The bombing of Pearl Harbor. I find myself asking, "What have we learned?"
It would appear that for a time the wars bred an empathy in the general public that unfortunately did not not endure.
I watched a documentary on WAR over the weekend. One Veteran made a most compelling statement. He said, "In a world without Evil, there would be no need to construct Gods." I don't think one can confine the 'need' simply to Evil, but it still forced me to think. The Veteran went on to discuss the impossibility of the eradication of Evil, simply due to the fact that humans are, quite frankly, inherently animals. Animals, I might add, most certainly with an consciousness that has a tendency to be influenced by Nature, Nurture, Society, or all of the above.
I thought about the horrors wars have visited on families throughout history, I thought about the Nazi War Trials, which never cease to confuse me. Granted, those men who went to trial had visited unspeakable horrors on innocent victims. Yet when one witnesses the blood lust of the public en mass, demanding death for these War Trial Criminals, their behaviour has a tendency to echo the criminals actions.
Echoing, without being under direct orders to carry out instructions or be shot on sight, tried for treason if you will, consequences the War Trial Defendants had to measure. The animal always chooses survival as a priority.
As anyone who has worked in a military, or para-military environment will tell you, the deal of the day - each and every day - is 'follow orders, no matter the consequence, or your personal feelings towards them; question later.' With the exception of the few, rarely officially reported, cases of direct insubordination to either mechanically or morally flawed 'orders,' following the orders ensures the survival of the individual.
Which is why when I see films of the War Trials that never cease to include scenes of the public outrage at the time, I cannot help but be sickened. The consciousness of the groups appear to melt into one barbaric animal demanding death to the offenders. The question has to be asked, "What does that cry for the punishment of death make those who ask for it?" For the objectors of death, the question will always be asked, "What if it - whatever it may be - occurred to a relative or child of yours?"
No, I don't believe in my heart of hearts, no matter what has occurred, I could turn into a barbaric animal demanding death, an eye for an eye if you will, no matter who or what the crime entailed. That would make me into something less than the criminal, as I did not inflict the act, nor suffer through it, simply one who was connected in some way, or made a moral judgement concerning it.
This is not to say that I do not demand justice in it's entirety. I am of the belief that unlike insane asylums of old, prisons should not be pleasant, bearable, comfortable places for those who have inflicted horrors on others. Prisons should not be places mimicking society in a microcosmic version. Criminals have violated their victims 'rights' to live in peace. Criminals should have no 'rights.' Prisons should be simply that. No libraries, no computers, no on-line access to obtaining 'jailhouse' law degrees among others, no TV, you get the drift. A cell with four walls, a place the offender is forced to confront his own mind, the only conversations he is able to have is with his own conscience, if he has one.
Which leads me to the horrific home invasion that occurred in this state last year. A doctor's wife and two daughters were brutally murdered after enduring unspeakable events. The court room was packed for the trial of the first defendant. Crowds outside screamed for the death penalty, en mass. Individuals that were interviewed by reporters were nearly feverish in their miasmic wish for 'death to the criminals.' I certainly do not condone the languorous attitude of 'forgiveness' either. But I refuse to be drawn into the crowd clamoring for 'death to the offender.' It is reminiscent of the abortion protesters, killing doctors who perform abortions. Today the husband, - the only survivor of that home invasion - will be on Oprah's daily program. He has endured the first trial, has yet to endure the second. He is still in shock and loss mode. He sincerely believes the death penalty is warranted. I wonder what he will think in twenty years? What will the jurors think of themselves, and will they remember they too, will have blood on their hands?
On a day like today, as Veterans of all the Wars past are dwindling in number, along with the Patriotic Fury that enabled them to survive to this day, I not only think about them, but the innocent immigrants, Japanese and otherwise, who were placed in internment camps here, until the end of the war, simply due to the mass paranoia. Many of those individuals had fathers, husbands, and sons fighting for our side in the War. Thankfully they were, for the most part, treated humanely.
When I visited the site of the Arizona, as well as the National War Memorial, I left my father's name in the guest book, for without him, and all the others like him, I seriously believe the lust for power and supremacy would have taken over back then, backed by the group behaviour we are all able to witness now, under one circumstance or another.
And so, today I pay my respects to all those who died defending Freedom, when Pearl Harbor was bombed, as well as those around the world at the time, whose soldiers were fighting as well, for something they believed in. Right or Wrong. It makes no difference to those following orders.
THANK YOU to Veterans around the world still among us who fought for their country, no matter what country.
What does make a difference is that we are free to make choices, thanks to those who have fought.