On the Military: In the End, We Are All the Same

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nr7DcJdbCS0&w=500&h=350] [This video on military reunions went viral earlier this week. It moved me a lot because it showed me how fundamentally alike each of us are as humans. We all love, and when our loved ones -- especially those whose lives have been in danger -- return home, our immediate response is to smile, and to cry, and to embrace them. It is a response, I believe, that transcends country or continent.]


I have to confess that I have been struggling to know how to regard military servicemen and servicewomen these days.

It used to be that I could see those in military uniforms and give them a smile of gratitude. I was in awe of their service and commitment, even no matter the country they served. Though I was never as brave as my husband, who can walk up to American individuals in uniform and shake their hands and thank them for their service, still my gratitude and awe ran deep whenever someone in uniform crossed my path.

But ever since I started walking this road of nonviolence, I've become awkward with all of this. On the one hand, I still hold all military servicepersons in quite high esteem. Anyone willing to put their own life and safety on the line for anything they believe is worth dying for -- and to do it, what's more, for the benefit and safety of others -- garners my complete respect.

But in other ways, the violence standing at the core of all military presence feels stifling, painful, and overwhelming to me. The truth is, we train our military men and women to kill. We train them to distrust the "other." We train them to live and respond defensively and offensively as a way of life. We recalibrate their makeup for violence.

This bothers me.

I am still working through what I think about these things because I know the realities of life in this big, wide world prevent most of my ideals from ever seeing the light of day. I wish that wasn't the case. I wish that we could, collectively, see that we are each human, no matter our nationality, and that we carry the same basic needs and desires. I wish the citizens of earth could care more about nurturing life than denigrating and ending it.

And maybe that is still possible here. Maybe someday the whole world will find the enlightenment that leads to lovingkindness as a way of life. I suppose that's why I keep walking this path, seeking to learn from the masters who have gone before us, the prophets who saw beyond the circumstances surrounding them and led others to freedom and change. Perhaps someday, in some small way, God will use my own life to help the wider world find life and peace.

I hope that is the case.

But until that day, I will keep struggling and wrestling and asking the hard questions I don't quite know how to answer yet.

I'm curious: Do you have any thoughts on this?