Why would a man fight for his country? And it is false to say that he fights for his country because earth, rivers, trees, bacteria, atoms, flora and fauna, the molecules of air have never commanded him to do so. And even his own government, like some butcher with a meat axe, considers him nothing more than blood to be spilled. Soldiers, in their esteem, are even lower than rapists, robbers, necrophiliacs, gangsters, perjurers, pedophiles, traitors because even these criminals don’t have their lives dumbly taken from them. They get to live. They get life, not a death sentence.
So why would a man take up arms? Why would he submit himself to the degradation of his humanism, allow himself the indignity of letting another steal his free-thinking mind, rob him of mercy, grace, compassion, snatch away his own personal freedoms and weigh him down with another’s irons?
And does this soldier still actually think it heroic, noble, to be a militant? Hasn’t he read the Iliad? Read the War poets? Beowulf? Morte d’Arthur? The Bhagavad Gita? The Nordic myths? Celtic myths? Everybody dies and there’s nothing noble or heroic about death — not unless you can do it peacefully in your own bed. And champions can only be found in comic books or on online video games.
And in society it is highly suspect if a man takes an unusual interest in violence, guns, or any delight in killing and yet those same moralists are quick to whittle not a new stake but a cross if a man suddenly announces an interest in soldiery. Why is that? Mostly because they, the moralizing shoal, are happy it’s not them but another sorry sucker — so much for their support! And when did the notion blossom that freedom and democracy can be won by force? The Tao Te Ching speaks often about the right force is that which acts like water, not by fire. Freedom is not achieved by force, either spiritually or materialistically. It is achieved by not doing. It is achieved by resisting and giving in. It is achieved by mind as well as by body. It is achieved when life is stronger than death. It is achieved when we are not self, but more than self.
And democracy? Can it be trusted to an army? Can they administer peace, hope, dreams, truth, beauty? Can they make you love more? Can they make you respect more, tolerate more, understand more, become the other, emphasize, have compassion? How can democracy flourish in the hands of an automaton who takes orders? Democracy is about thinking for oneself. It’s about, as Voltaire succinctly says, defending to the death the right to have your say. It is not about being the vessel through which others wish to control you. That’s religions job.
An army does not create democracy or freedom, it is the individual who creates both. Even a government dictating to be such is simply a piece of string attached to the man and woman who believe it with all their hearts. If we put our trust in democracy and freedom to those who think nothing of life and who can take it without conscience, then we are complicit in the crime of murder and are also butchering freedom and democracy. We are slicing into both their jugulars with our knife-edge refusal to act, to speak out.
Are we going to allow democracy and freedom to go to the charnel house? Are we going to allow them to be slowly strangled by corpses hands? Are we just going to stand back and watch the bloodbath fill up? Are we content to let shadows grope and twist and gut these words as if they were carcasses only good for carrion?
Life, which is the union of democracy and freedom, should not be trusted to those who so casually take it. It is not theirs. And since soldiers are not even servants to death like the rest of us but henchmen of death, then it is even more imperative that we wrestle democracy and freedom away from them. Their hearts are already ash, their fingers charred to white bone. They are skulls where the smoke from the burning pyres of democracy and freedom roam, unchecked.