I watched Saving Private Ryan yesterday. I watched it years ago when it first came out and haven’t watched it since because, quite frankly, it was incredibly disturbing. I don’t like seeing the insides of people on their outsides. I don’t like watching people die horribly. I don’t like to see men wasted and war wastes men.
We have a friend in Iraq right now. He volunteered for his current job. It’s the most dangerous job in the Air Force right now. He opted out of a mission a couple of weeks ago and the two guys who went instead were both killed. He had to identify their remains and guard them until they were evacuated. I don’t like that.
My husband is in the Air Force. He will probably deploy this year. I don’t like that. Many of my friends are spouses of military members. Their husbands also deploy as do the fathers of my daughter’s friends. I don’t like that. I don’t like my loved ones being placed in harm’s way, for any reason, no matter how noble.
But John Stuart Mill said something many years ago that I agree with, even though it means that my husband, my daughter’s father, my friends, my friends’ husbands and their kids’ father must all place themselves in mortal danger. He said:
“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of men better than himself.”
I agree. There are things worth going to war about. There are things worth fighting for and against. There are things that are more important than my own personal safety and the personal safety of my loved ones. I agree with that. But I also agree with Jimmy Carter when he said:
War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.”
And that’s a fact.
So I am divided. On one hand, I absolutely believe that war is sometimes a necessary evil. On the other hand I believe absolutely that war is evil.
Damned if you do; damned if you don’t.