Today on Twitter, I was privileged to see this quote: “Wars are not won because of hatred for the enemy. They are won because of love for what is being defended.” from @Jennichad217. The quote is originally from “The Vampire Hunter’s Daughter III” by Jennifer Malone Wright whose Twitter handle that is.
There is a ring of truth in that, but there’s a knot of instant reaction in my gut that leaves a sour taste in my mouth about it, too. See, I’ve had long, detailed discussions with a professional, career Army officer who has a very, very different opinion about what war is. When you’re the one asked to point the gun at other human beings, you develop a different perspective.
When you’re “in the shit” ideology doesn’t matter. That just cause that propelled you to defend your tribe is lost. The high ideals debated in some distant Capitol are empty rhetoric. When you and your buddies are faced with the choice of imminent death or murder, you think of only one thing: survival.
I knew that old Army man very well. He was my father. I knew his core ideals. I knew he was a man of peace and it confused me why he chose the military as a career. So I had to ask him and the answer he gave me defined my perception of the military and military personnel for the rest of my life. He explained that the people asked to carry the guns are absolutely the very last people who want war. He said, “The reason for a military is to prepare for a war that you never have to fight.”
When yours is the life in immediate danger, the human response is to survive, to fight, to live. However, if we live life to the fullest first, we truly don’t fear death. If the ideals you are defending are the core of your soul, you have no need to fight. Gandhi proved that pretty well. So did my dad. They approached it from different angles, but achieved the same outcome.
Wars are won by not being fought. No, I won’t let someone take what is mine or hurt my loved ones, but they will know well before they try that I’m willing to escalate the incident to mutually assured destruction and that is usually enough avoid the altercation.
Sun Tzu wrote “All war is deception.” Whether he meant the actual tactics of conflict or the events that lead up to a conflict, I’ll let you decide. I’ll believe the latter. Life is like a big Poker game. Sometimes you bluff. Sometimes you go all in. In either case, you win not by conflict, but by making your opponent believe they will lose.
Man, I miss that old Warrant Officer.