it really is a coincidence that i write this post the day after memorial day. it's been bumping around in my head for a few weeks, but is finally spilling out here. and really, it is just spilling out as a bit of process. comment if you like (please do) but realize that i'm not necessarily proposing answers or expecting them.
in a class i teach we were going over a story from scripture that begins like this:
"The following spring, the time of year when kings go to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to destroy the Ammonites. In the process they laid siege to the city of Rabbah. But David stayed behind in Jerusalem." (2 sam 11:1, nlt).
you see, the king/leader played a special role in the ancient world. the king governed, the king played a religious role, and the king lead the people into battle. the king may not always have been the chariot right @ the front, but the king was on the battle field. so, that verse from samuel really stands out because king david isn't where he is supposed to be. instead, he is letting others do the dirty work. now, this doesn't cause him to sin, but because of his location (@ home) he ends up falling into a bigger mess of deceit and murder. why am i telling you all this?
well, i realize that warfare has changed dramatically over the last 2500 years. and really, it continues to change. at some point, we decided that it probably wasn't the best idea to have our top officials out on the battle lines. perhaps they aren't the most skilled fighters. or, maybe we want to protect their mental facilities. or, maybe they are too precious of a symbol as leader to lose in a battle. whatever, i realize we've moved past the idea of the king/leader being out on the field.
but do we care if he's playing golf? our leader decided he won't play golf as long as we're at war. okay, that's fine, he's giving up something symbolic. but it's not like he's sitting in sack clothe and ashes because we're @ war. his daughter got married, i'm sure that was a joyous event. i don't doubt that he is still mountain biking on his ranch in texas. i don't expect him to be out fighting, or not watching football. really, for him to give up golf is just silly because it's as if we're supposed to pretend that somehow a game of golf is going to cheapen the sacrifice of life happening @ war. if so, none of us should be playing golf, going to movies, eating dinner out, or doing anything that isn't a part of the war effort. i thought the idea was that we needed to carry on as normal or the terrorists win. then again, i thought we were "victorious" in iraq about 5 years ago.
then today, i see that over 28000 army soldiers have been diagnosed w/ptsd since 2003. that's over 5k a year, and that is only the army. 40,000 total have been diagnosed and the numbers took a dramatic jump in 2007. and, officials suspect that more are keeping their mental condition a secret. troops are serving longer, the battle has increased in the last year, and we are engaged in a war on terror that conceivably could never end. is the president not playing golf doing anything to help the mental state of our soldiers?
i won't suggest that if bush, obama, clinton, rupaul, mccain or whoever where out on the battlefield it would be going differently. honestly, mc cain was in war and he seems most apt to not only continue what we're doing in iraq as he does to invade iran, north korea or anyone else that may be developing nukes w/o our permission. at least mc cain seems willing enough to get back out and run with the dogs of war. the others vary in their positions, but i don't imagine any of them really want to be flying a fighter jet into battle.
so where do we go from here? would our leaders consider war differently if they had more on the line? if they were back out in the chariot? should we carry on with life despite the fact that a growing number of our citizens are becoming mental shells of who the were as the wrestle with the horror of war?