The Problem with Sensationalizing the Military

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More than just in the media, movies and on social networks, we see the sensationalizing of the US military on the streets too. Whether it be getting out of a ticket for having a military ID, discounts in restaurants, or a general requirement for care and respect of those who serve. What would happen if you openly talked of your dislike of the US military in the presence of a solider, current or retired? Would you be met with violence? Is it necessary to show respect for the members of an organization when you do not believe in the organization’s cause or in the way it reflects on you as a citizen of the country that it claims to represent? I think that most of you reading this will say yes, even if you don’t want to. It is a requirement to show respect, and you will be looked down on or threatened if you openly bash it.

We must look at a few key issues in order to see the problem with sensationalizing the military. We must question the need for a strong military in general, and we must look at nationalism as a whole and the differences between the people of the different countries of the world. We must ask if glorifying the military also glorifies violence and killing, as it is not only involved in these things regularly but also uses them as a means to achieve many of its tasks. Is this the role model we want for our kids or the image we want to project to the rest of the world? We must look at who the military is really protecting and to what ends it will bring us. And we must look at the effect it has on our citizens who join the military. As stated early there is a huge respect for vets and currently employed men and women, we must ask if they are accountable for their actions, if they come out healthier in mind and body, and if failing to judge them fairly and accurately will further the system and put more men and women in harm’s way.

So let us begin by questioning the military as a whole and we can personally decide where the servants fit it. Servants being used liberally here as those who serve in the military, those who refuse to questions it, those who are angered by disrespect to it, and in general those whose mindset allows it to continue functioning in the way that it does now. So we must ask ourselves why we have a military, is it because we have to defend ourselves from a ground or sea invasion? Is it also because the people of our nation, The United States of America, are actually so different from the other peoples of the world? As we travel the world and meet others from different countries, societies and walks of life, there are very few who can say that their lives are any less important than our own. When we meet people of other nations we find good and bad people, just as the same exists in our own country. Some people will go out of their way to help us and be friendly to us, and others seem to emit a hatred for us and others around them for no particular reason. In many cultures there are differences and we may not like the social norms of politeness or etiquette but rarely can these be considered differences that make them deserve to die. In others countries there are mothers just like in our own, and children and old people. People all around the world bleed the same blood and cry the same tears when bombs are dropped on them. Sadly this is what the military does, it is inherent in the system, it kills people, that is its major function and what it devotes the majority of its training to.

Religion seems to be the grey area here, the place where some may question who deserves to die and who does not, for the beliefs of our mortality and what lies beyond it are frightening questions. In some religions the rights of women, and humans in general, or beliefs on what pleases God may differ but in the end we cannot expect others to believe what we believe, it is their freedom to be different. In the end we all share a lack of proof of what comes after life so it seems funny to fight merely for beliefs that cannot be proven till after death. In all religions we look up and ask for help, certainly the answer is not to give others reasons to need help as well. Maybe when we get so frustrated with the beliefs of others we can remember that at one time we were all born with the same innocent naivety, and unfilled set of beliefs. In the end we are all searching for the same knowing of unanswerable questions, and the same feeling of connectedness and lack of being alone in our hearts. We are all looking for answers to the questions of the depth of our person, which may or may not go much further than death. The conclusions we come to about our beliefs may differ but they are still a part of the same search, in the major details the religions of the world are not so different from each other, and the differences are not grounds for hurting other human beings to prove they are wrong or we are right.

When we really get to know others in the world, then we see more similarities than differences. If we look for enemies rather than friends we can find them too, for all over the world there are people looking for a fight, but there exists many more who are just looking for happiness in the world. They are looking for a family and want to make enough money to support one, they are looking to laugh, and to cry. They, like you and me, want someone to hug and kiss and lay with. They, like you and me, want someone to make them feel better when disaster strikes in their lives, someone to talk with and discuss ideas, and someone to sit quietly next to in times of silence. These people are not our enemies but tragically they will be the ones who pay the largest price in wars, they will be the victims, these people just like you and me. So is there a need for a military machine, a large scale killing machine? The answer is not so easy. If we look at the people we go to war with, and the victims of war, then no, we do not need to be encouraging, participating, flag waving our troops on their march into battle.

The distinction of the peoples of the world is called Nationalism and is a large debate. It is doubtful that more could be said about it than has been already said. We are one nation among roughly 200 others, and certainly the more our country stands together and works together the more we can prosper and defend ourselves if need be, but there must be a limit to how important it is to unite as a nation rather than a world. If we create too many barriers from the rest of the world we may find that we are cutting ourselves off from more benefits than we are protecting ourselves, and that we are creating enemies rather than friends. The benefits may lie in ideas, beliefs, culture and technology from other parts of the world. In the differences of others we may find the answers to the things missing from our lives. In accepting and viewing other cultures with an open mind we may see new ways to live that bring us happier lives, or new systems of government that provide a healthier, more sustainable life. It is an undeniable result that as we cling to nationalism, and push away nations other than our own, we become more close minded and naive. Thus our severely honesty lacking media, our low number of passport owning citizens, poor standing as world travelers, and  the large number of ongoing military conflicts we are involved in.

There are a countless number of countries in present and recent history where our military has ground troops killing people, drones bombing, and spy networks collecting information, most all of which we are unaware of, or mildly aware of and seem to prefer it this way. We really must ask ourselves how this helps us, and why do we need it? Our government runs itself for the benefits of the rich to get richer, and in some cases, though rare, the poor to get richer. We are a capitalist society and money is our major focus. The military is the gun used to keep the money coming in. Wars are extremely profitable, and if we question our country and view its history we see that the military and the fighting they do is for monetary gain, not for defending our citizens. There is an old saying that the best defense is a strong offense, but this seems clearly untrue in many of the wars we are involved in, stuck in. We are creating enemies, not winning football games. We must make this more personal for it is people who are paying the price. In all of the 200 other nations can we really say that we are better than any of the others? No, but we can try to unite and make ours stronger. The problem is that the military may not actually be making us stronger. It may be closing us off from the benefits of good relations with the other countries of the world and it does this under a guise that it is for our good, when really it is all economics, most of which affects us on a very low level, but they make the wealthy of the world super wealthy. These people have no use for nationalism in their own live, they see it only as an idealism use to enslave us and make them more money. Watching the money, spent and made, is key to seeing who benefits and who loses in wars, and is probably the common people, of our country or any other. The money made in wars is unjustifiable cause for the harm they creates.

Another reason the military is considered so important and deserving of respect is that they are considers to be our protectors from those that would hurt us. The last invasion on the US was nearly 70 years ago when the Japanese bombed Pearl harbor, before that it was the Mexican war in the 1840’s and then all the way back to the civil war where it was actually us invading ourselves. Potential large scale war on US soil seems to be a driving force in believing we need a large military but this fear is ungrounded. The events of the September 11th invasions by private individuals cannot be left out, but we must consider how much we contributed to this attack, as we, our military, had already been involved in the life of many Arabic cultures, and our thirst for oil seems unquenchable. The individuals who bombed us were created by us, they were retaliating for the tens of years of destruction we caused in their lives. Through government meddling and oil searching we have contributed to many fatherless families and the death and hardship of so many. This information is well known at this point and the idea that America is hated by many for the death and misfortune we have caused in other culture’s lives is unconcealed. Those that wish to attack us harbor revenge, not greed. Our government and military created them.

The rest of the world is violent for sure, but we are as well, we may even top the chart on violence. Many countries would attack the US if they had the chance, possibly even some do attempt to attack our home, but our defense system has kept them out. It is unknown how many countries or private citizens would come here to attack us because they are too afraid to do so. It seems that the only real way to attack the United States is through private convictions, and the willingness to kill yourself in the progress. It is unreasonable to believe that it is sustainable to keep making the world too afraid to attack, this can only last for so long, and as more and more enemies are created around the world the job will become more and more difficult and our military will continue to grow. As of right now we are the second largest military in the world, second only to china which has a twenty-two times larger population than us, how much larger do we want it to be? What percentage of our citizens do we want to me military servants.

Another problem with sensationalizing the military is that it promotes violence. If we hold violent acts and perpetrators of violence as monuments and heroes, we are clearly encouraging more of them. Children look to heroes as idols for what they want to become in life, even adults can be swayed by this idolization. As we cheer for military success around the world, we fail to encouraging ourselves to handle our problems with conversation and diplomacy. The more we clap our hands for those who use guns to solve problems the more we consider it right to use violence in our homes and personal lives. Child and domestic abuse in our culture can be linked to this, as can the violence we see on the streets of our home country, which is more than in many countries around the world. Most people agree that we should teach children to handle their problems without violence, beating up someone on the playground because you don’t get along, or because they have something that you want, is not the answer. Children should be taught to talk out their problems and come to peaceful solutions, to accept each other’s differences and to get along, but the military clearly does not act in this way or hold these as organizational values, and yet we hold them is such high esteem. We must ask why people who change the world without violence get less coverage, in the media and in conversation, than those who take what they want at the expense of others. When lives are taken for lower oil prices and it is accepted by the nation, why should we not take what we want from our neighbors by force. When the media and our citizens glorify revenge, killing, and success, even at the cost of human lives, American or foreign, we set violence as an acceptable courses of action, rather than a last resorts. If we don’t stop to question our military and to empathize with those hurt by it, we are not role models for our children or peers. The military is not a role model and should not be idolized. It should be questioned openly, without fear of an angry recourse.

The US military system seems to be put in a different category from those that hold its guns and die for it. It is sometimes ok speak badly of the military but not those who willingly volunteer to fight for its cause, and fight is very literal here, life and death in many situations. The problem with doing this is that it seeks to take all accountability away from the people in the military and possibility even credibility. Credibility because how can we think someone is credibly if they don’t make their own decision, if they follow orders even in the most character defining situations like taking a life. The two categories of military and soldier are certainly different but they achieve the same goals, one as master one as servant. In order to truly question the military we must also question those who carry out its ends. So as not to offend those with a deep respect for military men and women, and those in the military, that there is a difference between those who follow orders and those who call the shots, but why would anyone follow an order to take a life.

From the very start when a person decides to sign up for the Army, Navy or Marines, they may not know what exactly to expect. The recruiter may have told fantastic stories and built and unrepresentative images of what military life will be like, but certainly there is an understanding that you may kill other human beings, and may be killed. No one can hide this, it’s at the heart of the military. There may even be a want to go out and use guns and drive tanks or other powerful killing machines. It also seems reasonable to do serious research before you sign your life over to an organization for 3-5 years. Much of the time those joining are young and impressionable, though legally considered old enough. Claiming ignorance when joining the military can only be accepted to a certain point. At the age required to join the military people are old enough to be responsible for their actions, but without proper parenting and role models they may be naive to how much the military will alter the course of their life.

The military has an amazing training program, they know what they are doing. They tear you down and rebuild you into what they want, into a soldier that follows orders. They are extremely successful at this. That is why our military is so good. But the outcomes are not as great as they sound. People leave the military with horror stories and psychological disorders. They leave with lifelong injuries and sometimes they leave in a body bag. Sometimes our government doesn’t even take care of these people or their families when they come home broken in some way. When they return home they are different in mind and body. There is a chance they will have seen things that cannot be erased from their memory no matter how much it is desired. They may find themselves more prone to violence and more emotionally closed up. There are certainly skills learned in the military and a possibility of a better future for some, but there is also the possibility of negative outcomes on the soldier’s life. We must really ask if the positives outweigh the negatives, we must bring it close to the heart. Would you want your son or daughter in the military, would you want your husband or wife, your father or mother, would you want yourself in the military, holding a gun, defending your life for nationalism, in another country defending our country, to continue driving a machine that more than likely will only benefit a few rich people who don’t need the help in the first place?

Oxford dictionary defines sensationalism as:  “the use of exciting or shocking stories or language at the expense of accuracy, in order to provoke public interest or excitement.” Is this what happens with our military? Yes it is. It is what happens when we believe that we are protecting ourselves from outside threats while making a handful of new threats for every one defended, and failing to view the victims of wars as more similar to us than different. It is what happens when we treat our country and the citizens of it as better than any of the other human beings around the world. It is sensationalism when we glorify the use of violence to solve problems, and it does teach others around us, especially children, that this is an acceptable way to act. We are sensationalizing the military when we idolize those who keep it running, working and killing, when we congratulate their loss of humanity and loss of self, rather than morn each person’s personal or mental loses and alterations by the military complex. These are all proofs that we are sensationalizing the military and that it has a negative impact on our loved ones, countrymen and fellow human beings. Lastly it is sensationalism when we fail to see the government’s true goals with the military, who they hurt and who they help, and who is behind the strings profiting from the wars we die in.

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