Friday, January 30, 2009

The Fragility Of Life

As Bacchus and I were taking our morning stroll I watched as he climbed the highest snow berm he could find. He was my old mischievous pooch, his lips and gums were a nice bright pink and he had a familiar twinkle in his eye. It got me to thinking of the fragility of life.

In thinking about Bacchus's situation I realize how unprepared I was, even at his age, for the possibility of his instant demise. We don't always get the chance to prepare that I have been given. On the human level facing death, even if it's not our own or a loved one's, can have devastating results.

There has been a lot written lately about the increase in suicides in the Army and Marine Corp such as the article in the Chicago Tribune .

Even more disturbing was a story in this morning's Spokesman stating that the suicide rate at West Point has reached historic proportions.

While tragic, I think it tells us a lot about who we are as a people. Long and frequent deployments are being suggested as part of the reason for the unsettling statistics in the regular military. Stress and hazing at the Military Academy.

I think it is more than either. I think it's the nature of Americans. Unlike the people we are fighting, we have not grown up in a culture of war. Killing humans, for any reason, is not part of our mind set. Yet we ask our young men and women to do just that.

What must it be like the first time you realize a rifle round of yours has killed another human being. Do you ever get used to it? What must it be like the first time you see a buddy blown up or shot dead. Do you ever get used to it?

From the numbers of soldiers coming home with mental health issues I'd say not.

As for the West Pointers, hazing may be a part of it. Yet I wonder if anticipation of what they are likely to face isn't a greater part. Anticipation can grow within like a cancer and it can be just as deadly. One can steel oneself to the point of doing what is required, but getting over it once done is not so easy.

Unlike our furry friends who live in the moment, we humans do not have that luxury. We have to deal with anticipation and memories and all the emotions that fall in between.

Yes, we need a strong military for a strong defense. We don't need one for aggression. The youth of our nation is it's strength and future. The last thing they should have to face before they've had a chance to live is a "dead" end.

1 comment:

Sylvia K said...

You are so right on! Terrific post!I have been so appalled at the increasing numbers of suicides in the military and Wes Point and I think you are absolutely right about why. The differences in cultures -- ones who face death and have for years on a daily basis and our culture where young men and women don't even think about such things -- or didn't. I hate to see what is happening to our young people and have to admit I'm so thankful that mine are all too old to be called -- unless things get much, much worse in the next few years. And of course, we need a military for defense, but not as it is being used now.