11
Jun
08

On air: Is it still the greatest honour to die for your country?

This is a discussion which takes place in every country with servicemen and women at war. The parents of a British soldier killed in Afghanistan this week have been talking about the pride they feel that their son died for people he’d never met and for causes his country believed in. The word honour is used repeatedly by US military leaders to describe the efforts of those in Iraq. Ugandans told us when we visited Kampala that they were proud of their soldiers in Somalia as part of an AU force. But is that sense of honour increasingly misplaced, or as relevant and important as ever before?

Many of you tell us your frustrations at war being used to achieve goals that non-violent means could help achieve. We debated just that yesterday on the show when Adam Smythe made the case for military intervention.

Bearing all this in mind, is there still the greatest honour is being prepared to give your life to serve your country? Or is it an outdated notion of honour that misleads both those who die and those who celebrate their efforts?


257 Responses to “On air: Is it still the greatest honour to die for your country?”


  1. June 11, 2008 at 13:57

    lol, there is no honor in dieing for your country. There is honor in making the other poor schleps dies for their country.

    1) As a general rule a war should always start from just inside the border of your or your allies country. If the enemy (or his artillery shells) crosses, then you are protecting somebody. If they keep coming, then it will be required to make them stop in person.
    2) If your silly little war starts by entering the borders of another country see part one and figure out your role.
    3) Honor is a relative term, like pride. Some people take pride in winning a Nobel Prize; other people take pride in winning Special Olympic gold. Both are just as proud in their own eyes.

  2. 2 Brett
    June 11, 2008 at 14:02

    The word honour is used repeatedly by US military leaders to describe the efforts of those in Iraq.

    This makes me laugh out loud… honestly. The US military conducts itself with some of the least honorable behavior of the modern age. How they describe efforts in Iraq as honorable is beyond me.

    There is honor in those who die for their country, that honor is at the expense of the idiots who send them to die for said country.

  3. 3 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 14:03

    As Patton said, you don’t win wars by dying for your country, you win wars by making some other guy die for his country.

  4. 4 Tom (NYC)
    June 11, 2008 at 14:13

    No man ever gave his life for his country….He had it taken away.

  5. 5 Peter Dewsnap
    June 11, 2008 at 14:28

    There is no honour in dying for your country since that really is not the truth. You are dying to further the egos of arrogant politicians who know it will not be them who will die.

  6. 6 selenayvonne
    June 11, 2008 at 14:28

    @Brett

    That makes me laugh out loud too! 🙂

    But it isn’t funny!

    Soldiers join the Military for many reasons and not one of them is to die with honor for their country. It is a nice thing to say after they do die though. It is not their fault that they have been sold a pup!

    When they join the Military, young men and women don’t usually have any idea what they are doing. By the time they realize what they have gotten themselves into it is too late. Leaving, after committing one’s self, is not easy!

    In my opinion, if there is any honour it is in realizing that you have made a mistake and then deciding to leave the Military.

    I may be pillioried for saying this but, in my opinion, soldiers who leave the Military are the ones with courage and honour.

    Don’t talk about honour, or the lack thereof, unless you have been in the Military in a war zone. Don’t say soldiers should die for their country unless you have been that soldier in the thick of battle.

  7. 7 Eric
    June 11, 2008 at 14:30

    Brett said: This makes me laugh out loud… honestly. The US military conducts itself with some of the least honorable behavior of the modern age. How they describe efforts in Iraq as honorable is beyond me.

    Classic example of two things: (1) not knowing what is actually going on in Iraq; and (2) lack of historical perspective or understanding what sort of things other Armies have done in the past.

    The US Armed Forces police themselves better than any military in history.

  8. 8 Arnaud Ntirenganya Emmanuel
    June 11, 2008 at 14:32

    If I die for my country while fighting for JUSTICE, TRUTH, FREEDOM, and DEMOCRACY for all MY people then I would love to be honored after my death, rather than those who are honored after committing atrocities.

  9. 9 Keith
    June 11, 2008 at 14:32

    This is such a sticky discussion because there are good honorable men and women who have died in places like Iraq and Afghanistan believing they were doing it for their country and perhaps for people in those countries. For them, there is honor and there is valor, there are great acts of courage and selflessness that shouldn’t be discounted by those of us who will never understand it in an immediate sense.

    But with that said, of what greater value is that honor when their deaths were NOT in reality serving to protect their country or really to help anyone in another country. It all becomes pretty meaningless. I am a Mennonite (I would more specifically call myself a Celtic Mennonite) which supposedly makes me a pacifist, though I haven’t quite completely accepted it as an absolute. Nonetheless I have come to believe that it isn’t possible to have moral warfare with modern means. When war meant that human beings had to confront human beings with a weapon in hand, no video game delusions could keep the brutality of their actions at arms length. Maybe in those times, when people were defending their own territory or home….the violent acts needed to stay alive and intact as a people or nation…maybe that was morally acceptable war…but given the scale and enormity and complexity and dehumanization of modern warfare, I don’t think it is within the realm of possibility for it to be morally excusable.

    In any case, when world leaders are able to muster just a bit of humility (which for some reason always seems to be scorned as some kind of kiss of death, or show of weakness) and deal with one another as human beings…maybe, just maybe war wouldn’t have to be so immediately considered.

    But what do I know?

  10. June 11, 2008 at 14:45

    Is it the greatest honour to die for your country?

    HELL NO!

    A governments military create war and brainwash the people the war is just when it never is. Dismantle the military in every country on this Earth and there will be no wars. Creation and not destruction is what the world needs and armies are not needed. If governments weren’t corrupt there would be no need for any governments armed forces.

  11. 11 Uzondu Esionye
    June 11, 2008 at 14:47

    This is the same notion that suicide bombers go about killing themselves for,die for a cause/your country. yes service men and women die in service for their countries,but if the deaths can be minimized,that would make a difference.

  12. 12 Brett
    June 11, 2008 at 14:57

    @ Eric:
    The US Armed Forces police themselves better than any military in history.

    I’m still laughing… Even harder now.

    If you really want to get into this debate, we can. Though it may get a bit off topic.

    (1) not knowing what is actually going on in Iraq;
    I know perfectly well whats going in Iraq it’s how I arrived at my conclusion!, nice generalization about my involvement in following the war though, maybe if I followed Faux News as my only media outlet I would have a different perspective?…

    (2) lack of historical perspective or understanding what sort of things other Armies have done in the past.

    I’m sorry, in my comment specifying modern times, I should have noted post-WWII. And while the US Military conducts itself better than many, its not nearly as good as it should be, or more importantly as good as it thinks it is and portrays itself.

  13. June 11, 2008 at 14:58

    It’s a great honour for any serviceman/women to die for his/her own country! unfortunatly they are a few patriotic citizens in the world today especially here in kenya and Africa in general where people but first their own self-interest a head of their own country!

    It’s shameful not to be patriotic.I am a very patriotic citizen,and I love my country very much.as the saying goes ‘ East and west home is the best”.

    Even our Millitary is well known for it’s discipline and the service they offer in peace keeping missions a cross the globe.It’s such a huge shame to us that none of them are patriotic citizen and no one a mong will offer sacrifce his/her life for our country kenya.

  14. 14 Tom
    June 11, 2008 at 14:59

    Soldiers who were sent by their country voluntarily or otherwise and die in combat deserve honour.

    Soldiers who went into war for profit – mercenaries – deserve no honour and have no one to blame but their own greed if they’re killed / wounded / captured.

    Politicians who launched wars on falsified pre-texts for political or hegemonic gains have none.

    “The US Armed Forces police themselves better than any military in history.”

    I don’t buy into this especially when the administration permits the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” in extraordinary rendition scenarios, and perpetrators of the crimes in Abu Ghraib and Haditha are not held to full account – either through acquittals by military court or exemptions from trial on extraterritoriality ground.

  15. 15 Dennis
    June 11, 2008 at 15:04

    NO…

    Dennis
    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  16. June 11, 2008 at 15:07

    Wow, and what pray tell, is going on in Iraq Eric. I mean what pressing need was there that the US had to protect itself by entering Iraq, sparking a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands, chasing out the medical, educational, and business professionals, creating a “breeding ground for terrorist” (CIA’s words), leading to the economic ruin of not only Iraq but the US and many other countries who are entangled. As you answer you should know there are readers here from Iraq. I am sure you can explain to them how wonderful things are now that the US soldiers have been there 6 years.

    If the US military had “policed itself”, It would have questioned why it’s best proven source for information had come back with intelligence 180 degrees opposed to the trumped up 3rd hand documents it had gotten from a corrupt and disqualified former Italian intelligence agent. Heck It might have even considered the effects of selling weapons and propping up people like Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. “Policing” works best if you don’t create a mess first.

    It is not honorable to be forced to kill people you don’t consider a threat, yet the military has pursued, ridiculed, and punished people for refusing to return to a front that they don’t believe in.

    There was a time when boys joined the military to fight a cause they felt was right. Not to get out of poverty or to go to school. There was a time when you didn’t need $60,000 sign-on bonuses.

  17. June 11, 2008 at 15:10

    yes there great honour dieing 4 your country.but according to me in 21st century no country should be fighting each other.there have been so much progress since civilisation have developed so instead for dying 4 country we should think more towards making world a global village so that all the problem should be resolved by talking.so all countries should think about cutting budgets towards millatary.now it is high time we should value each and every human being.

  18. 18 Tino
    June 11, 2008 at 15:13

    We do police ourselves well, thank you very much. Soldiers who act out of line are punished, we try our hardest to prevent civilian casualties. The suggestion that we do not is baseless and ridiculous.

  19. 19 Sheldon
    June 11, 2008 at 15:14

    My Short answer/question is “Why don’t leaders die for their country? “ This is an outdated notion of honour that causes intense pain and hardship for those family members that are left behind. I would know because my friend’s stepson died serving in Iraq and he was the first Trinidadian to die there whilst on his way to be fingerprinted to become a US citizen. As a result of his death, a law was passed which enables/speeds up foreign born servicemen to become US citizens.

    I applaud the job that servicemen do but when looks at the history of war and the casualties, once asks “ Was this worth it ? “

    SQB

  20. 20 Colleen D
    June 11, 2008 at 15:16

    The whole concept of nationalism is quickly becoming out-dated. As a US citizen I fully respect and appreciate our servicemen and women, but at the same time, I would prefer to have no military at all. Maybe that it too idealistic, but I dont want anyone dying in Iraq or elsewhere in the name of “protecting” America, because I believe there are many other and infinitely more productive ways to “protect” America and the rest of the world at the same time. History has proven that war only leads to more war and conflict. I think throughout history politicians and national leaders have manipulated members of the military into thinking they are doing the honorable thing. Dying for the sake of protecting humanity is one thing (i.e. if there had been military intervention to stop the rwandan genocide for example), but dying for the political motives of one country is quite another. When leaders try to merge the two ideas it is not a fair question.

  21. 21 Arnaud
    June 11, 2008 at 15:17

    If I die for my country while fighting for JUSTICE, TRUTH, FREEDOM, and DEMOCRACY for all MY people then I would love to be honored after my death, rather than those who are honored after committing atrocities.

    Arnaud Ntirenganya Emmanuel
    Rwandan in Cameroon

  22. June 11, 2008 at 15:25

    War has always been a dreadful event to the weak party despite the pretence of courage. Soldiers are the first to pay for it with their lives. No soldier is ready to die gratuitously. No army likes to have its soldier die. The death of just one soldier in a war can shake the whole nation. It’s not like any other death. His death is for a whole country. The bigger is the number of casualties, the bigger is the grief of the nation. In the USA, there is an opposition to the war in Iraq because of the number of soldiers killed there. The USA has never suffered such a large number of deaths since the Vietnam War.

    Among soldiers, there are conscientious objectors, who see war as futile and inhumane. They see it as a disgrace to fight it and to die in it. They either desert or refuse to join the troops.

    A nation, without its courageous, well-equipped and trained army is defenceless in time of attacks. The soldiers’ role is to defend it and die for it. Death can be a great honour as dead soldiers are remembered by the nation as heroes. Some see accepting death as a matter of principle because they will die for a cause that can benefit the human race. So it’s no wonder if intellectuals also join the army. Among the US soldiers who died in Iraq, there were those with university degrees and multiple vocations who joined the army voluntarily.

    The soldiers’ lot is to face danger. They’re at war to face all possible dreadful consequences from capture, injuries and infirmity to death. At least, those who die in war should be honoured through memorials. Their families, especially their children should be taken care of. They shouldn’t be easily forgotten through the passage of time.

    As long as soldiers fight and die for a justified cause, their death should be a great honour. It is when they are made to fight a war to serve the interests of just a particular political class or to wage aggression against a weak nation refusing to submit to a strong one that their death becomes futile.

  23. 23 Mohammed Ali
    June 11, 2008 at 15:25

    The greatest honour is to live and fight more battles for your country.

  24. 24 Margaret
    June 11, 2008 at 15:27

    Was it ever?

    Wifred Owen saw the truth in 1918

    http://www.warpoetry.co.uk/owen1.html

  25. 25 Pangolin- California
    June 11, 2008 at 15:31

    You’re a sucker if you ‘die for your country’ and your boots aren’t standing on it’s soil at the time. On September 11, 2001, when the US was attacked by foreign terrorists the US military was mysteriously nowhere to be found. Well, except as targets anyway.

    US military forces are sworn to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Since the military has obeyed orders to torture people every single member of the US armed forces is dishonored if they continue to serve under George W. Bush. Torture is specifically detailed as unacceptable under the US constitution.

    Honor is a two way street. If you should be required to risk or give up your life for your country the country should hold your life just as dear in support and value. In the US, disabled veterans can find themselves homeless and without access to effective medical care. A soldier obeying orders from his superiors can find himself on trial and facing prison for following those same orders while those giving the orders go scott free.

    If the soldier is dishonored by a single crime then so is a nation. Look to how your country treats the least among you to decide if there is any honor in defending it.

  26. 26 Brett
    June 11, 2008 at 15:33

    We do police ourselves well, thank you very much. Soldiers who act out of line are punished

    Sometimes they are punished, and when they are punished it is either a slap on the wrist or a discharge. Find me instances where a US Armed Serviceman or woman was punished properly and adequately and for each of those instances you will find countless unpunished cases or cases where ‘punishment’ was lacking.

  27. 27 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 15:33

    Well, if you take the alternate approach, people would lose the will to fight at the first casualty. Imagine if people found it wasn’t worth fighting in WW2. What would the world be like? I realize that WW2 and Iraq are very different, but imagine if the America First types like Lindbergh had their way? Say if the allies gave up at D-Day after the first soldier got killed?

  28. June 11, 2008 at 15:34

    My brother was an Army Sgt. and an Army National Guard Lt. when he died of cancer in 1985. This is the way I reckon his chances of survival had he lived:
    He would have been deployed with the army in the first Bush war, ‘Desert Storm’ as a Sgt., one of the most dangerous jobs in both wars in Iraq, Pat Tillman comes to mind, friendly fire is as much a threat. If, and that’s a big if, he survived that war, he would have been just 40 at the start of the 2nd Iraq war, still old enough to be deployed as a helicopter pilot possibly, he was being trained. But since his aspiration was with the National Guard not the army more likely he would have just been part of the GI as a Sgt. It seems almost impossible to me that he would have survived 20/20 hindsight would say this, where’s the honor in that?

  29. 29 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 15:35

    @ Brett

    See the Eddie Slovik movie, he got executed for his desertion. Actually, as someone who considered being a JAG for a while, from the people I knew in JAG, soldiers get punished often.

  30. 30 Jan
    June 11, 2008 at 15:38

    Hi,
    this is very important to me, because my son has just inlisted in the Navy.
    I have decided to write a blog about it.
    I cringe at the status of “military mother.”
    But, it is one that I cdi not choose, rather it was chosen for me.
    I have a meeting that will take several hours and my transportation should be here soon, hence my quick writing and many mistakes.
    I will have to read all of your responses and continue in my response when I return.
    I will say this:
    if there is a way that we can support the soldiers, without supporting the war — does that sound like an oxy moron? — then, I will do it.
    I would have chosen the Peace vorps for him instead of the navy, but it is not my choice.
    And, part of me wants him to be successful in his career — yet, not successful.
    Well, I can’t wait to read the responses and will respond more when I return.
    It will be at 4:30, Eastern time in the USA, so well into the evening/night for Brittain.

  31. June 11, 2008 at 15:45

    Margaret has a point,

    but there was a time when going out with armor and chain mail gave one enough protection to feel honorable. That’s the definition, not some Patton slogan, with the intentional double entendre, even if it is cowardice to desert.

    You have to consider the weapons versus the armor, that’s the key here. England went marching into the crusades to get slaughtered but they had armor and weapons of equal strength to their enemies. If England had gone over and encountered a hydrogen bomb in France: there would have been no honor in that.

  32. June 11, 2008 at 15:50

    How about the story of Jamiel Shaw who we discussed last weekend, his mother is an army Sgt. serving in Iraq and she had to await leave to return home to honor her son who was gunned down 3 blocks from his home in LA. If you’re going to honor soldiers why not the kids shot on our own streets? How does the army honor that child who was killed?

    Do the children killed in the middle-east conflict get honored as well, I think not. They are just casualties. Modern war is a casualty. There’s no honor even in this question.

  33. 33 Cuauhtémoc Solís from Mexico
    June 11, 2008 at 15:50

    I do believe in serving my country against physical treats (e.g. invasion, bombardment), but not serving for subjective values crafted by politicians (e.g. sovereignty, democracy, free market, access to strategic resources).

  34. 34 Shirley
    June 11, 2008 at 15:50

    Dwight and Brett said at the top of this discussion almost everything that I could have wanted to say. “Honour” has been misused these days. The war in Iraq might have some honour attached if it actually had anything to do with defending our country against an attack. It isn’t. The war in Afghanistan has been tarnished by our tunnel-visioned push towards an oil-friendly infrastructur and support for political corruption.

    I attended a small-town Memorial Day service at the end of May. The speaker asserted that we are fighting for our freedom over there, made disparaging remarks against those who oppose the war in Iraq, and preached a sermon and conducted a Protestant Christian prayer. I was disgusted. And that is a reflection of how the whole thing has been presented to the American public from the beginning. It’s an insult to our intelligence – at least, for those of us who are intelligent enough t recognise it as such.

  35. 35 Mohammed Ali
    June 11, 2008 at 15:50

    If everyone were to die for their countries becauseof “Honour”, who will remain to inherit the earth. In the first place those leaders who advocate war and describe as good thing defending your country should be the first on the frontline and die for the sake of honour.
    It is just a stupid thing for some greedy politicians who are power drunk and want to show how powerful their countries send innocent people to senseless war with cliche that you are doing it for you country. Why should I die for any country when I have conflict with noone and will not have one.
    The best person to die for their country and will be honour are the politicians because they loot the country and enrich themselves at the expense of the poor and suffering masses.

  36. 36 Colleen D
    June 11, 2008 at 15:55

    And what about the surviving soldiers?

    Is it an even greater honor to go through the rest of life with the physical and/or psychological scars of war before one dies??

    The costs of war are so high that only in the most extreme crimes against humanity can it be justified.

  37. 37 Jester
    June 11, 2008 at 15:56

    Perhaps, the question should be directed at the leaders. They send other people’s children to kill and be killed. They keep their precious offsprings in ivory towers so they can all live happily ever after.

  38. 38 Mohammed Ali
    June 11, 2008 at 16:06

    Jesus alledgely died for mankind and not even quarter of the world population including me don’t even beleive that crap, why would I beleive that somebody is dieing for me because something called “Honour”.

  39. 39 Lamii Kpargoi
    June 11, 2008 at 16:06

    Honor or not, it sounds silly to lay one’s life down for a country that has been as historically unequal in its allocation of its wealth to its citizens as my country Liberia is.

    Never mind the talk of not asking what your country can offer you but what you can offer your country. That statement accounts for nothing if at the end of the day the person laying down his life is only going to be ensuring that other people’s foolishness continue in his country.

    Here in Liberia, only higher level state officials get the best pay. These people, like the ministers, legislators, supreme court justices are paid around 100 or more times what the lowest civil servant gets. The lowest civil servants are paid around 50.00 United States dollars. Can/should this in anyway motivate anyone to die for his country? I guess not.

  40. June 11, 2008 at 16:09

    Hello to all of you my Precious friends… Let me tell all of you guys a little amusing story that did happen to me on Monday… As I was entering our hospital, I was so surprise to see three US military vehicles standing near by the building, and I was even more surprised to see an American occupation soldier standing by the door of our hospital… He was heavily built, with an extremely red face and sweating heavily… At the time I said to myself “God ! He’s so young, maybe even younger than I am !”… I stood in the queue waiting for my turn to be searched by our hospital’s guards, and at the same time I kept looking at him from time to time to see how he’d behave… Everytime an old Iraqi lady passes infront of him, he smiles and nods his head to show respect… Everytime a bunch of Iraqi children pass infront of him trying to enter the hospital with their families, he waves his hand in the air and smiles to them, and they in turn do the same and shout “hello” at him… You could tell from looking at his face that he was feeling extremely safe, peaceful, and relaxed, as if he was quite sure that nothing wrong will ever happen to him at that moment ! From 2003-2008, I can tell you guys that as an Iraqi citizen, this scene will live with me forever, because it was so unique, so different, so individual, and so beautiful ! With my love… Yours forever, Lubna..

  41. June 11, 2008 at 16:10

    Yes, perhaps we should call the US President’s service record into question, was there any possibility of death, at a training camp, no. Was there a chance at honor, well, even if there was he didn’t take it, so if your military leader is a coward, how can you expect to have an honorable army?

    It really does come down to modern warfare, when Patton got so narcissistic on a soldier for having traumatic stress from the war was he defending the honor of the army? No, and he was reprimanded for it. But in the old times of war they would have chopped that soldiers head off and called it a good loss. It’s all in the proximity of the blade, if you can see it coming quick enough to duck the blow, that’s honorable. But if you’re getting bombarded by shells from positions you can’t even see and people are dying around you, ask anyone who was in that situation, there’s no honor, only survival.

  42. 42 John in Germany
    June 11, 2008 at 16:12

    @Jan.
    You have decided to become a sailor, with all of the responsibilities that come with being a part of the defence system of a country. If you have doubts about using weaponry to kill then you should have taken the Peace Corps offer.

    There is no way to avoid the possibility that you would need to kill or maim if you are a member of the services. Sorry but that is the case, even if you work in the supply department, or in the catering you are part of the defence system, and will be doing your part to keep the man up front, working and efficient. Remember pacifists only exist because there are active military men and women. Conscientious objectors, can only object because there are men and women willing to fight.

    Most of us lock the door when we go out of the house, if we don’t we are asking the thieve to come in. Our forces are the lock-take them away and all hell will be let loose. Those that object, or make our military criminal, are not immune from attack,
    it is only because of our brave military that they can be what they are. They have every right to be so, thank heavens, but they must decide For or Against there is no middle way.

    One thing , If i was your superior i would worry about your fitness to wear a uniform.., Your comrades will need to rely on you at all times, are you sure you wont let them down?.

    Wish you luck, and you will find the good exceeds the bad by a 1000%.

    John in Germany.

  43. June 11, 2008 at 16:14

    Is it really dying for my country or fulfiling the immoral ambitions of a dictator in power?

  44. 44 umoh,
    June 11, 2008 at 16:16

    It will become such an honour the day the Leaders and Commanders of such wars agree to go and do the actual fighting themselves (at the forefront in particuklar), rather than stay and give orders from the comfort of their office. Until that happens, NO ONE SHOULD WISH to be addressed as having been killed for his country…

    May I ask you Mr. Ros, “have you ever heard a soldier who went to war, survived and came back home” been addressed and his survival was said to be AN HONOUR to his Country? Maybe he wasn’t expected to survive after all!.

    The leaders of war will readily attribute the “death” of a soldier to Honour and the “survival” of another soldier to God knows what!

    WARM REGARDS from Nigeria

  45. 45 Brett
    June 11, 2008 at 16:16

    Is it an even greater honor to go through the rest of life with the physical and/or psychological scars of war before one dies??

    Unfortunately, the government doesn’t think so, what with the lack of medical and social care for its veterans and all.

  46. June 11, 2008 at 16:20

    Hi Lubna, good to hear you’re feeling better.

    I wonder how that soldier reacted to you who had knowledge, of medicine, that he wouldn’t understand right off. Was he nervous about that?

    In terms of the age, if your in your mid 20’s that is older than most of the average infantry, most are between 18 and 21.

  47. June 11, 2008 at 16:20

    I agree with you Zak about the honor in ancient warfare. The reasons for going to war have never changed – they are always to either take something that doesn’t belong to you, which unfortunately is human nature, or defend something that you want to keep. So in most cases, there are people who are justified to some degree by the fact that they are defending themselves. But modern warfare has eclipsed tribal or even international skirmishes and hand-to-hand conflict by so many miles that it has become something entirely different. I think many of this country’s young people have sadly lost much of the concept of honor.

    One of my closest friend’s younger brother has done several tours in Iraq as a marine. I knew him to be a confused, easily influenced mess of a kid before he joined the army to “learn some responsibility.” Now he is the same insecure kid who puts on a tough guy, arrogant front but is still desperate for approval and tries to earn it by talking about how he got to “kill some camel-f****rs.” He has not learned honor, and he is no better off than he was before, to say nothing of the people he has killed or maimed. I look at him and see a potentially ruined soul. It breaks my heart, and what’s it for? It has become senseless.

  48. 48 John in Salem
    June 11, 2008 at 16:23

    “Honor” is a word usually used in speeches to motivate and justify wars along with “glory”, “homeland” and “noble cause”.
    Don Quixote fought giants in the name of honor.
    He was also a fool.

  49. June 11, 2008 at 16:25

    John in Germany, you seem a bit confused. Jan was talking about her son joining the Navy.

  50. 50 Bob in Queensland
    June 11, 2008 at 16:26

    Was it ever REALLY an honour to die for you country or is that just the brainwashing to keep the troops happy?

    The politicians and generals talk about glory while the poor squaddies die in the mud and the blood and the gore.

  51. 51 Shirley
    June 11, 2008 at 16:28

    Colleen D,
    Are you fmailiar with Dennis Kucinich’s campaign for a Department of Peace?

  52. June 11, 2008 at 16:30

    Mohammed, what does Jesus have to do with this?

    Shirley, I share your sentiments but I sense beneath the surface a vitriol toward Christians that is married to your vitriol toward mindless war support. There are many many Christians in this world who oppose this war and many others, precisely because of our faith.

    This is a common conflation in forums like this and I find it frustrating. I am a mennonite, and we like Quakers are a peace church. We have extremely active and Christ-based organizations which deal with social justice and peacemaking. My wife works for Mennonite Central Committee who were instrumental in the controversial religious forum that Ahmedinajad (sp?) attended here a few months back. I would encourage all of you on here, as you vent about these frustrating issues, not to give in to the temptation of over-simplifying ANYONE, their beliefs, etc.

  53. June 11, 2008 at 16:31

    Yes it’s still a great honour to die for your country if only your will is positive.what i mean here is that ,if you know that what you are trying to archieve is for the betterness of you country then that is a good will.Because that will show dedication ,patriatism and devotion to your country.That is my opinion.

    DAVID

    LIBERIA,MONROVIA

  54. 54 Shirley
    June 11, 2008 at 16:35

    Abdi had a good point about how the concept of honour and fighting for one’s country plays out in Africa.

  55. 55 Al Blades
    June 11, 2008 at 16:41

    No matter the war, no matter the politics, when a soldier dies-we should honour them.
    Anyone who is willing to lay down thier life whether it be a firefighter, a police officer, or soldier should be given respect and honour.
    Whether or not you agree with the wars we fight-please stand behind your troops, as they are willing to stand infront of you to protect you. And that is honourable.

  56. 56 selenayvonne
    June 11, 2008 at 16:47

    @Jan

    Your son has to make his own choices. But I understand your anguish.

    I am part of a Royal Navy family. You are always one of the group. That’s the good thing, I guess.

    I would never want my sons to enlist but I would accept their decisions, without a murmur.

  57. 57 Colleen D
    June 11, 2008 at 16:47

    @ Shirley

    No I’m not familiar with it, but i will look it up. Just from the name it sounds like a good idea!

  58. 58 Shirley
    June 11, 2008 at 16:52

    Keith,
    I am sorry that I sounded hateful against Christians in post. That was not my intention. What angered me was the way that Protestant Christianity has become mixed in with a blind, tunnel-visioned support for the military and certain politicians. (Re-reading my statements earlier, I now feel that I want to add “Evangelical” to the adjective list.)

    I now realise that I would have been much more comfortable in a service conducted by those who share my political views. I do know that many Christians are also anti-war. Thank you for reminding me. Know that political views also vary in my Muslim community.

    My intention in attending that ceremony was to show my respect to the soliders who are doing what they are told and operating in such dangerous situations. In my naïvetée, I forgot that in such a small town, a certain brand of religion is tied in with honouring the troops and believing that one’s country and its religiously conservative political leaders are always right.

  59. June 11, 2008 at 16:56

    Ketih said
    they are always to either take something that doesn’t belong to you, which unfortunately is human nature, or defend something that you want to keep.

    That’s exactly right, or the common soldiers were taking wealth that brought prosperity to the families of the soldiers or the kingdom. There is nowhere near enough wealth now to justify the soldiers even being in the infantry.

  60. June 11, 2008 at 17:01

    The only honour is in being prepared to die for what you personally and authentically perceive to be worth dying to defend, and even then you need to scrutinize your own truth to see whether you aren’t being deluded by it.

    As I said on the previous page, I fought in the SA military to defend South Africa against the ‘communist threat’, including the threat of black rule, and back then, as a youngster in the 70’s, I was convinced it was the right thing to do. I could very easily have died ‘for my country’ then, as many others did. What a waste of young life!

    Now, having grown up a little, I know that I was a brainwashed kid, and would have died, not only for nothing, but actually for a misguided ideal. How would such a folly have been honorable?

    More often than not, soldiers die in a dehumanized mindstate because of the violence to which they have become inured. How can that be honorable?

    Dying for the temporal and cynical policies of the politicians is waste, sheer waste.

    But, because we can’t get rid of war, we have to have soldiers and some of them have to die, although most die for the wrong thing. I suppose the honorable thing to do for those who have given their lives in these ways is to say that they have died honorably, although they cannot benefit one whit from that.

  61. 61 Leonet Reid
    June 11, 2008 at 17:02

    Dying for ones country is one of the highest accolades one can achieve. His or her country represents everything he stand for, from Religious principles to family and cultural heritage. Defending these vital components of society is one civil duty of national pride. Many have fallen proudly along there brothers fighting to ensure that their opressors will never continue their opression. Such men are, Martin Luther king, Paul Bogle (Jamaican Hereo), Toussaint l’ouverture (haiti), St stephen ( first christian who was martyred) and coutless others. These men and women allowes their bloow to be spilt from their bodies so the soil could be fertile for their offsprings.

  62. June 11, 2008 at 17:07

    There is a military joke. A young soldier was stranding next to his general. Suddenly a general from the enemy side was moving towards them. The soldier tried to shoot the general when his general told him, “Stop! Generals don’t shoot at one another.”

    When there is a war, it is rare that high ranking officers die in the same proportion as low ranking soldiers who should be at the front. Generals are lucky as they must have survived the wars they took part in. In their current positions they give their orders from remote and secure areas through modern communication systems.

    It is still the dream of the American army to invent machines that can make wars by being remotely controlled by satellite. If that happens, the future wars will be a sort of video games and the notion of dying for honour will be a matter of the past. Only machines will be at the front.

    But still it is wrong to make wars because of its great cost in human lives and property. It is still a dream that Man can use his intelligence to “invent” tactics for peace. But as there is still literatures and movies glorifying past and imaginary wars, wars will still capture the imagination of many. For many soldiers fighting wars is their raison-d’être. As such, it is still debatable if dying in a war is for honour or just the consequence of mad decisions resulting from the inability to find reasonable peaceful solutions.

  63. 63 VictorK
    June 11, 2008 at 17:07

    It is always honourable to die in defence of one’s country and the safety of one’s people. Only a social parasite would argue otherwise (parasitic on the existence of men and women prepared to lay down their lives to ensure his continued freedom to carp and sneer at the military and at military virtues in safety).

    It is probably even more honourable to die trying to promote the safety and interests of those who are not your countrymen, but only when they are your allies. If we are honest Western troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are regarded by the bulk of Iraqis and Afghans with either indifference or hostility. There is no honour in dying for people who hate you or who regard your sacrifice on their behalf with a shrug. There is undoubtedly professional honour in dying in these places, but since there is – in Britain’s case – no British national interest at stake, and certainly none that could not be more effectively secured by peaceful means, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that British soldiers are not dying honourably for their country but pointlessly for other people’s.

    No country has a right to promote the interests of other people unilaterally and against their will, or in circumstances where their actions – however well-intentioned – are without legitimacy. The US and UK have less of a right to bring ‘freedom and democracy’ to Iraq and Afghanistan than the insurgents and Taliban have to resist them. There is nothing honourable in fighting a man in his own country without the pretence of a right to be there (the endorsement of governments that enjoy office by virtue of elections held under occupation doesn’t count).

    The British government has betrayed the country and the army by throwing away the lives of our soldiers and squandering the wealth of the nation in two conflicts that we haven’t so much as a glimmer of an interest in. If a soldier is to die let it be for the sake of Britain and Britain’s good, and let him be honoured for that sacrifice. But to die in the name of people who are practically our enemies, because politicians won’t admit they’ve made a mistake? There can be nothing more futile or foolish, or more dishonourable on the part of the worthless politicians who brought it all about.

  64. 64 archibald in oregon
    June 11, 2008 at 17:09

    To honor war as a solution to anything, is to give it a status it does not deserve. War is murder in place of diplomacy………..no shiny medals, uniforms or caskets alter the character of that task………….though in some cases there is no alternative, it still carrys no honor. Murder by any other name is still only that……..

  65. June 11, 2008 at 17:11

    Bob,

    I really do believe that when you combine adequate armor, equal weaponry before guns, and the promise of the ‘take’ that a common soldier might get did feel honorable. Feeling honorable defines honor to me. Especially because most often times there was not much of anything but squalor to come home to. So it was an all or nothing proposition and that does tend to bring out the best in Human kind.

    But look at the common soldier now when the urge hasn’t lessened, but he’s stifled in it, fighting against the odds of weaponry, and he’s more concerned then ever about keeping his home.

  66. 66 Scott Millar
    June 11, 2008 at 17:17

    Violence. War. Dieing for your country. Dieing for your religion. No country, religion or people should take the high-road on this. Dieing for God or dieing for geography, these are all foolish endeavors, which deserve no glory. Death is never glorious or honorable—it is rather matter-of-fact. If there is any honor in war, you would think it would be in getting the job done while staying alive. Romanticizing deaths of war is perhaps an irrational way of making the loss seem more tolerable. Well they aren’t. They are unfortunate! Perhaps, this patronization of death first began with Jesus, and it hasn’t left us since.

  67. 67 Trent West
    June 11, 2008 at 17:21

    A very big YES is the answer to this question. I think the problem is sometimes we get confused in thinking of soldiers in a political sense. To understand how truly heroic dying for your country is you have to think of a soldier as a human being. A father, son, brother, husband, or a best friend.

    Think whatever you want about the politicians that send these guys to wars, but when the shooting starts all politics goes out the window. The honor is in the choice of going into the military with the full knowledge that one day you might have to stand between a bullet and your fellow citizen or fellow soldier.

    Not all of those who join the military do not have better choices. One of the smartest person I know still a major in the marines. He has a masters degree in avionics, and if he was in the civilian world he would making north of US$120K a year. What drives him is to do the best he can for his marines, and country.
    He once said to me, “I am not into politics, I am into the dream that is this country. I believe in its system of checks and balances. I believe in its people being just and freedom loving, but I also know that we as a people are flawed. When or if that moment comes I will take a bullet for the biggest anti-military person we have ’cause I am the defender of freedom, that my job description.”

  68. 68 Katharina in Ghent
    June 11, 2008 at 17:22

    What did Lord Farquart in Shrek say? “Some of you may die, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.”

    That’s the point though, isn’t it? Politicians keep telling you how great it is to serve your country, but rarely are their own children in front line. The only example was Prince Harry, and he was pulled out of Afghanistan immediately after the press got wind of his engagement. (Rightly so, what a price target!)

  69. June 11, 2008 at 17:29

    Hello my Precious Zak and thanks a million for your kindness my good friend… Actually I doubt if he ever recognised me… He was keeping a very close eye on everyone coming in and out of our beloved hospital, but at the same time he did manage to make almost every Iraqi around feel that he’s actually a ‘guest’, not a ‘hateful occupier’ ! I usually I don’t like to generalise at all, but for once I wished that this kid would be a representative of the whole US occupation army in my Iraq ! And by the way my Precious Zak, I was born in 1986 ! :-)… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna…

  70. June 11, 2008 at 17:33

    Right on Zak.

    Shirley,

    thanks for your clarification. I apologize if I seem a bit reactionary about that issue. If anything we have a few things in common being in somewhat of the vocal minority as thinking people of faith on WHYS. I certainly understand what you were saying about the service. And, truth be told, I detest the aligning of God and country.

    Atheists and anti-religionists see separation of church and state (which come to think of it would make a great WHYS forum topic) as something which protects their government and life from religion. Looking back at how much the republican party manipulated and infiltrated places and hearts of worship during the last two presidential elections, I am grateful for such separation to protect the purer essence of the faith I hold dear from being co-opted and polluted by power hungry politicians.

    I guess that may seem off topic, but I think it relates because the “god and country” ethos has been used as a powerful propaganda tool to earn public support for the war.

  71. 71 Prince Awele Odor in Lagos
    June 11, 2008 at 17:39

    Som kyn dye na fulish man dye (Nigerian English), means: “Some deaths are foolish”. If Americans see the death of an American soldier in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Kosovo as honourable, despite the criminal violations of international relations, natural, religious, and human rights laws, conventions and treaties, why not see “suicide bombing” and the celebration of the killing of American and Israelite soldiers as honourable?

  72. 72 selenayvonne
    June 11, 2008 at 17:39

    @Keith

    How do you define people of faith?

  73. 73 Mark in Ohio
    June 11, 2008 at 17:40

    IT DEPENDS!

    IS IT AN HONOR – OF ANY SORT – TO DIE IN THE MISTAKE CALLED THE IRAQ WAR? “MISTAKE” IS THE MOST DIPLOMATIC DESCRIPTION THAT CAN BE APPLIED. IT IS LIKELY MUCH WORSE THAN A MISTAKE – MUCH WORSE… IT IS ARGUABLY A CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE.
    PLEASE UNDERSTAND THE DICHOTOMY HERE: THE SOLDIERS (VAST MAJORITY) ARE ACTING HONORABLY AND MAY HAVE GONE WITH WHAT THEY THOUGHT OF AS HONORABLE INDIVIDUAL INTENTIONS…AND A SENSE OF DUTY – HOWEVER BLIND.
    THAT INDIVIDUAL HONESTY IS (I’M SORRY), IRRELEVANT IN SITUATIONS LIKE THIS…
    I LOVE MY COUNTRY AND HONOR IT’S SOLDIERS…I DESPISE LEADERSHIP THAT MISLEADS AND THEREBY ERODES AND CORRODES THE VERY HONORABLE, DUTIFUL SPIRIT THAT MAKES OUR NATION WHAT IT IS…. THIS IS JUST TERRIBLE – IF IT IS NOT CRIMINAL IT SHOULD BE

  74. 74 Jo in Chico, California
    June 11, 2008 at 17:41

    ho, people,
    I stand with Wilfred Owen against the ancient lie, ‘dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.’

  75. 75 DeEtte in oregon, USA
    June 11, 2008 at 17:42

    I think political leaders have manipulated the definition of honor to encourage young people to risk their lives for causes that the leaders are not willing to sacrifice for. George W. Bush used political influence to avoid being a soldier, yet he has sacrificed more than 4,000 young lives in his war for oil profits.
    It is more honorable to serve others by working alongside them to make the word a better place, not to be killed or to kill others. I can’t be part of the on air discussion because I will be at a vigil in support of fair working conditions and justice for immigrants. That’s the example I give to my children and grandchildren, not going to war.

  76. 76 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 17:45

    @ DeEtte

    George Bush was in the Air National Guard. Every time he got into a jet his life was at risk. 4,000 lives? Do you realize that in wars in the past, there would be tens of thousands of people killed in a single day? Do you realize that during WW2, there were attacks on ships where more people died in an hour?

    As for your vigil, you mean fair working conditions nad justice for ILLEGAL immigrants?

  77. 77 Scott Millar
    June 11, 2008 at 17:48

    VictorK said: It is always honourable to die in defence of one’s country…

    So the dead Nazi’s are honorable? How quickly your argument became invalid. Always? Really?

  78. June 11, 2008 at 17:48

    selena,

    that’s a very good question. I suppose I should clarify that I am particularly referring to folks that believe in some spiritual absolutes – faith traditions that often seem a bit archaic in the post-modern designer spirituality culture. The only reason I mentioned this was the heated discussion you might remember that was regarding Atheists and Christians. I felt there was a rather strong surge of voices that were quite dismissive, hostile, and more than anything condescending. If I remember correctly, you and I had a good exchange when all was said and done, and I appreciated your sensitivity and maturity on the matter.

  79. June 11, 2008 at 17:48

    Hi Ros, Akbar here in Tehran
    Courage the greatest virtue, you have it or you don’t: But then again, having the pluck to speak out when things are blatantly wrong; or when the weak are down-trodden, like the Afghan labourers who are buried alive on building sites every day in Tehran because of the lack of supervision and insuficient safety measures being enforced.
    The courage of the soldier to take the plunge against tall odds, yes, it is admirable.
    Unfortunately too many of our lads served as stool-pigeons in the Eight Year War with Iraq. Their blood is on the hands of prelates, may they live to regret it. Amen.

  80. 80 selenayvonne
    June 11, 2008 at 17:56

    @Keith

    Thank you for your response.

    I was wondering if we could discuss what constitutes FAITH and if the characteristics of FAITH could be applied to a kind of spirituality, outside of a concrete belief in a particular God.

  81. 81 VictorK
    June 11, 2008 at 18:01

    @Prince Awele: an American soldier dying in Kosovo to prevent Albanians being bullied and murdered by Serbs, or an American dying in Afghanistan to liberate women and girls from gender apartheid and to free ordinary Afghans from religious lunatics and give them the opportunity to live their lives according to their wishes and not the whims of some armed, Koran-thumping bully, or an American soldier dying in Iraq so that Iraqis have the opportunity to live in a free and democratic society whose wealth is held and used in common and not as the personal property of one man and his family – do you really think there is any point of comparison between American, British and other soldiers dying in these circumstances and a civilian mass-murdering suicide bomber?

    Western troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are undoubtedly engaged in a good cause. My objection is that sometimes the goodness of the cause isn’t enough. Because it’s not the business of the UK and US to rescue and bring good things to Albanians, Afghans and Iraqis there’s no compelling reason for their armies to be in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. And where a cause has no justification I think deaths in its service also lose something of the honour they would otherwise attract.

    A suicide bomber conducts himself dishonourably, and in a cowardly fashion, from the start. When he is murdering people in order to advance a worthless cause like establishing an Islamic state or keeping women and girls enslaved and ignorant, then it becomes a matter of dishonour heaped on dishonour. There is no comparison between honourable soldiers fighting on behalf of a worthy but futile cause that is not their own, and honourless terrorist murderers trying to extend the empire of darkness.

    George Bush is deeply mistaken about many things: he is not evil. Al Quaeda and the Taliban really are evil incarnate. That’s what too many people have lost sight of.

  82. 82 Jan
    June 11, 2008 at 18:01

    My meeting was canceled and I am back home just in time to read the responses and listen to the show.
    I am not speaking as an intelectual or a theorist.
    Speaking as a mother:
    there are somethings that we consider “honorable” and worth dying for.
    We say that our soldiers are dying for “freedom and democracy.”
    Is this true?
    In other wars, yes, our soldiers died for the freedom of others.
    And, that is commendable.
    But, what about now?
    If my son actually dies to protect America from a threat and because of his death, our lives have been changed, then, it is honorable.
    Tell me, how have the deaths of the soldiers within the last ten years, benefitted my life?
    What would be different if just “one” of them had not gone to war?
    I am a passivist feel much like Keith. And, yes, I am an ardent christian. Unfortunately, I am met with many “christians” who believe that God’s will and American Government’s will are one in the same — at least when it comes to the military.
    But, I know that my son does not share my views.
    Not only do I not want my son to die,
    I don’t want him to KILL.
    I am not just a mother who wants her son alive.
    I don’t want him to have to go through the psychological and spiritual challenges that plague someone who kills another soldier.
    I want him to be clear about what he is risking his life for.
    And, I don’t want him to be disillusioned by a Government and heckled by some antiwar supporters who are quite one-sided when doling out compassion.
    It is easier to theorize and be an armchair activist.
    which brings us to Corey Glass.
    Corey said that he was told that he would not be fighting, unless it was on American soil.
    Did he get it in Writing?
    Everyone knows, nowadays, not to always trust the american Gov. This does not make it right.
    But, there does seem to be a bit of naivity on his part.
    He made an oath.
    He needs to honor that oath and if he feels that he has been misled, then, he should come home and fight against it.
    What good is he doing now?
    If his conscience is so strong to leave the military, wouldn’t it be equally strong in standing for his beliefs so other potential soldiers will not fall into the same trap.
    Whether I agree with my son’s choice or not,
    I have been quite upfront with him about his role and the Government’s selfish behavior.
    Ultimately, it is the soldiers who pay the heaviest price. It is not the leaders who send them off to fight. And, most often, it is the Government leaders that are causing the most havick in foreign affairs.
    He knows this and still desires to sign up.
    I have not made him watch “The Battle of Haditha,” which I am still haunted by.
    But, he has signed.
    I encourage him to honor his Government commitment, only second to his commitment to God.
    When the two clash: choose god.
    Yes, some may be saying that his signing is a perfect example of the clash.
    He decided to be a medic… … maybe it was to appease me and maybe not.
    But, I pray that he will be saving and not destroying lives and that God will direct his steps.
    What more can I ask?

  83. June 11, 2008 at 18:06

    Steve,
    Seriously?! Do you really believe Bush’s life was in danger flying around this country in his ‘Champagne Unit’ never leaving American air space logging a total of 336 hours? No, wait you’re right, he was in grave danger having received the lowest minimal passing score on his pilot aptitude test, he could’ve crashed at any moment!

  84. June 11, 2008 at 18:08

    Selena,

    if you are asking, or for what it’s worth – I think you can define it in various ways, but I think this one from the bible is a pretty eloquent one: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

  85. 85 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 18:11

    @ Zak

    He was in a machine that used an explosive liquid as means of running the motor. At high altitude, and high speed. It’s not like he was sitting in a desk when he was flying.. Flying airplanes is dangerous. If he wanted some cushy job he could have worked in a kitchen. Even the “lowest minimal passing score” on a pilot aptitude test is still much more intelligent than your average person.

    336 hours is still a lot of time in the air, when every second of it means being in a small plane with running jet engines.

  86. 86 Edward Ibrahim
    June 11, 2008 at 18:13

    I think it is better to distinguish the circumstances under which people die for their countries. where soldiers die to ward off pending invasion to their homelands, such deaths can be said to be honorable. But when soldiers die in wars that can hardly be justified,then whatever honor claims on these deaths are simply misleading. For example, no amount of millitary honors bestowed on the dead soldiers of the Iraq war really means anything……What did they die for? some body remind me please.

  87. 87 Shirley
    June 11, 2008 at 18:13

    A Disappointment: I’m at the library, where I normally catch the BBC stream online, but the headphones are all in use. I can catch the posts here but will have no idea what on-air comments others are responding to.

  88. 88 devadas.v in Kerala, India
    June 11, 2008 at 18:14

    Definitely, yes. I am a civilian but my schoolmate is a national defense academy product and now a major with indian army. He always says he serves with pride and how he wants to lead the indian army on the battlefield. He says an example to him was one of his superiors who, on the battlefield, lost an eye battling against three men from point blank range in kashmir. This story inspires him to date.
    Parents pride is genuine and they can always remember their proud son forever giving for a countries cause.
    i am in awe not only for the son but also for the parents attitude in this extraordinary circumstances.

  89. 89 viola anderson
    June 11, 2008 at 18:14

    The definition of honor that I like is “adherence to high standards of justice and responsibility; ethical conduct,.” as in the movie, “Rob Roy,” the hero tells his wife that, “Honor is a gift I give to myself.” Hope that quote is accurate–it’s been awhile since I saw it.

    Christianity is based on the concept of a savior who gives his life for humanity.

    Islam elevates the status of martyrs because they are seen to be dying for the honor of Islam and fellow religionists.

  90. 90 Scott Millar
    June 11, 2008 at 18:15

    How do the honor promoters resolve the two-sided question? If the American or British troops who die at war are honorable what about the people they are fighting against? Are they honorable also? Why are two honorable groups fighting against each other in the first place? It clearly and very much, depends on the individual and the reason with which they are fighting. This collective honor labelling is inaccurate.

  91. 91 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 18:15

    I still don’t get how spineless society is becoming. 100 British soldiers have died in Afghanistan in SEVEN years of being there. Look at this, on the FIRST DAY ALONE of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, 58,000, yes FIFTY EIGHT THOUSAND British soldiers were killed. IN ONE DAY!

    http://www.firstworldwar.com/battles/somme.htm

  92. 92 CarlosK
    June 11, 2008 at 18:16

    Hi All

    This red herring usually surfaces whenever the USA and its allies engage an unpopular war. It is very effective and classical psychological warfare used by warmongering rightwingers to attempt to justify the indefensible such as the Iraqi conquest.

    It is a great honour to fight ones country. But none of the soldiers who die in Iraq have die honourably because they unknowingly and some unwilling engaged in a dishonourable war and you can’t get honour from a dishonourable thing.

    JUST FOR THE RECORD. The greatest honour is in fact to die for ones friend. Not country. The best examplar of this is Jesus Christ. Who died the most ignominous death on a cross in order for us to be free to choose or refuse His offer of salvation. An offer if refused will lead to eternal death.

    Carlos, Kingston-Jamaica.

  93. 93 Matthew Godwin
    June 11, 2008 at 18:16

    Dear Ros,

    I think that the remembrance of sacrifice is relevant, but the glorification of soldiers elevates war to something admirable, which it is not. War should always be considered a failure no matter who wins. Glory in death and war is an archaic concept.

    Thank you.
    Matt
    Halifax
    Canada

  94. 94 Bob Macdonald
    June 11, 2008 at 18:17

    I served in Canada’s special forces and felt very proud to do so. But the proviso is this: we saw our role as directly defending Canada and our allies. I think people’s lives are being wasted on people and countries who do not deserve such high quality life to be wasted on them: they do not appreciate it.

    As for Afghanistan and Iraq: those are two countries who deserve only a fleet of Repear drone bombers flying over their territory to ensure they do not attack us again. Putting troops on the ground in those countries has been a big mistake. You either capture and hold territory, or you don’t bother. Our governments have betrayed our troops by doing this in half measures, with the lunacy of taking and losing territory, all at the expense of young people’s lives. I don’t think there is a single member of the Labour cabinet who can walk around with pride.

  95. 95 jason
    June 11, 2008 at 18:17

    I never understood why DYING for some cause or another can be so great. Why not LIVE for the cause instead? Death takes what? A couple minutes. Living for something can take upwards of 80 years. Isn’t the greater honor that which lasts longer and has a more prolonged impact? Who was the greater hero? Benjamin Franklin or Jessica Lynch? Who will be remembered 200 years from now?

  96. 96 VictorK
    June 11, 2008 at 18:18

    @Scott: you wrote – “VictorK said: It is always honourable to die in defence of one’s country…

    So the dead Nazi’s are honorable? How quickly your argument became invalid. Always? Really?”

    In DEFENCE. The Nazis were aggressors in almost every instance. They weren’t defending Germany. When war was declared on them it was in response to their latest act of aggression re Poland and the future acts of aggression that it was natural to expect given their record. If the Nazis had not annexed Czechoslovakia and attacked Poland, and if they had instead – let’s say – been attacked by Russia, then German soldiers would indeed have died with honour in defence of their Nazi homeland.

    Sorry to disappoint you – I know that for some people the words ‘Hitler’ and ‘Nazis’ are supposed to clinch every argument just by being mentioned. Oh, and for good measure, the Germans suffered very real injustices at the end of WWII, re the loss of territory and the expulsion of ten million Germans from their ancestral lands, injustices that cannot be justified however many times the words ‘Hitler’ and ‘Nazis’ are repeated.

    To die defending your country from unprovoked and unjustified aggression is always honourable.

  97. 97 damali ayo
    June 11, 2008 at 18:19

    I think the worst thing about all of this is that people mostly get labeled as “hero” only when they die. this creates guilty feelings in the ones who survive, and also tells our children that you can only earn respect and honor through death. and what about all the people working for our countries who are not dying- teachers, doctors, janitors, artists….perhaps none of us are heroes. we are all people doing our jobs and each of those jobs has a different requirements, but all contribute to “the country” equally.

    perhaps if we could see things in that more realistic sense, we wouldn’t glorify war and we wouldn’t drag it out for so long….people should not have to die in the course of their job, even if they are a soldier- if we start to see this we would be more outraged when they do and put an end to all of it.

    damali ayo
    portland oregon
    listening on OPB

  98. 98 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 18:19

    @ CarlosK

    Sorry, when you die, you are 6 feet under, rotting, and you’ve ceased to exist. There’s no afterlife, just like there was no Jesus, and no God. It’s all part of the fairy tales because you’re simply afraid to die, and deny the reality, that you go back to nothingness. It will be exactly like the billions of years that went by before you were born. Nothingness, that’s what you’ll find yourself in, regardless of your fairy tales.

    Oh, and just say this religious stuff is true, what does it say about a “God” who has everyone who lived before Jesus in hell? Why would you worship someone who made things so that everyone before Jesus goes to hell? Some nice fellow eh? I’d just love to be friends with someone who is so insecure he demands to be worshipped. It’s wonderful what human traits we gave God when we created him.

  99. 99 shaun
    June 11, 2008 at 18:20

    Politicians and world leaders will always find excuses and reasons to go to war. With the demise of the conscript army, citizens can now make a choice to become professional soldiers. Now whether or not the war is right, or moral, or honorable is beside the point. As a Canadian citizen, I thank my lucky stars every day that there are individuals among my fellow countrymen who volunteer to go to these conflict zones to get shot at and killed so that I don’t have to. The only thing I can do about a conflict as a citizen is to lobby my government to bring the troops home in as timely and safe a manner as possible. To that end, I give our soldiers all the respect and dues they deserve and try to thank them for serving whenever I can.

  100. 100 mason in Washington state
    June 11, 2008 at 18:21

    I believe that any nation or state that wishes the abillity to defend itself, now, and in the future, MUST give the people who defend it the highest of honors and accolades, lest no one be willing, or think it worthy, of defending. A nation or state not willing to give these things to its fallen soldiers would not find many soldiers to die in its defense.

  101. 101 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 18:21

    @ Jason, that was Patton’s view, better to make someone else die for their country. Jessica Lynch was a shameful page in the history of the military, and I’m glad she finally came out and said she was no hero. A friend of mine who heard from people in the military that were on the rescue mission said she was crying like a little girl when they rescued her and she heard a gunshot.

  102. 102 Mason in Utah City
    June 11, 2008 at 18:23

    As a former US Naval Officer and graduate of the United States Naval Academy I can certainly understand the call to serve your country and to be prepared to sacrifice your life for freedom.  I honor those who make that choice, and abhor those who make the decisions to sacrifice their lives for less than honorable causes, like Iraq.  Throughout human history we have glorified the warrior, is it a surprise then that our world is always at war?  We need to change the focus of our admiration: teachers, scientists, doctors, thinkers, artists, musicians deserve our admiration to a much greater degree only then will we recognize that we are one race and will be able to create a world dedicated to peace, dedicated to building not destroying.

  103. June 11, 2008 at 18:23

    It makes me sick to hear Bush and honor mentioned in the same sentence.

    Less people die in airplanes than cars and the military crash rate is even lower. Bush set an example that is not worth the honor of a flight across the pacific ocean to Iraq. I have f-18 jets flying over my house almost everyday on the Pacific coast corridor returning from overseas. I have a military family, and I’ve been in planes of all kinds, with no pressure it’s simple flying a plane. Bush is a lousy pilot and an even worse strategic leader, his actions bereft the army of honor of a real commanding officer.

  104. 104 Scott Millar
    June 11, 2008 at 18:24

    CarlosK,

    I thought death was eternal? Know? No? Bring it on baby!!!

    I gotta say one trip around the block was definitely enough for me. One life—then bye, bye—I’m outta here.

  105. 105 Chuck Paugh
    June 11, 2008 at 18:25

    Why does it always seem that those who say that it is an honor to die for one’s country are the people who have themselves never served in the military and use such an “honor” as a means of manipulating the masses into fighting a dishonorable war? (Chuck from Portland, Oregon)

  106. 106 Don Waters
    June 11, 2008 at 18:25

    No. It’s not honourable – it is put like that for the benefit of the bereaved relatives – you can judge the way the “Country ” feels by the way it treats the woundedwho are left dissabled mentaly as well as physically- we should return to the ancient way of war when the laeders led from the front – we would have no more wars

  107. 107 Roger in Ohio
    June 11, 2008 at 18:26

    As long as young people are willing to serve as cannon fodder, people like George Bush, Dick Channey and other such morally depraved leaders will be able to declare their wars and use those misguided individuals to execute their immoral plans.

  108. 108 Shirley
    June 11, 2008 at 18:27

    Keith, Selena,
    I can’t wait for TP 12 June. It is very interesting to see how the discussion has progressed from the concept of honour and military service to religion and its involvement in government.

    I was talking with my family the other day about the kind of patriotism that we so often see expressed by members of the military. I asked whether it was indoctrinated into them as part of their training, and the response seemed to point in that direction. Does anyone have experience with this? If there is a certain patriotic indoctrination in military training, is there any religious aspect to it, as well?

  109. 109 VictorK
    June 11, 2008 at 18:27

    @Steve: spinelessness isn’t the issue – it’s the pointlessness of the British deaths that angers some of us,

    What happens in Afghanistan (and Iraq) is of no interest to Britain. Therefore it is an outrage for the life of even a single British soldier to be lost there. The whole, ‘We must fight them there, so we don’t have to fight them here’ line is nonsense. When you have an immigration policy – as the UK and US both do – that lets Iraqis, Iranians, Sudanese, Algerians, Pakistanis, Egyptians, Saudis, Afghans, Somalis, Syrians. etc settle in your country each year by the thousand then you can be sure that sooner or later you’re going to have to fight them ‘here’, while making fighting them ‘there’ absolutely futile.

  110. 110 Neil in Dallas
    June 11, 2008 at 18:27

    I don’t think being a soldier is any different than being a construction worker. There are occupational hazards associated with every job. If you are in the armed forces, death is one of them. Unless the person is forced into military service there is no reason to glorify military service as compared to any other profession which contribute to society.

  111. 111 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 18:29

    @ Roger, are you suggesting there was no such thing as an unjust war before George Bush? I’m sure all the millions killed in WW1 over the assasination of an unelected royalty member in the Austro-Hungarian empire was well worth it…..

  112. 112 kalypso in Vienna
    June 11, 2008 at 18:30

    Better than to die for your country is to live for your country

  113. 113 Ed in Oregon
    June 11, 2008 at 18:30

    What is a country but our way of being civilized? War is the ultimate breakdown of civilization. When our citizens make every effort to kill others without due process of law, and do this as a matter of daily survival, we need to think hard about whether we are still civilized.

  114. June 11, 2008 at 18:30

    Here we go again.

    Steve, you have just perfectly displayed the scorn and condescension I was referring to earlier. I won’t bother going overmuch into the particulars of your statement. You are guesstimating about theologies and intricacies of the Christian faith for which you clearly hold no respect. Also, not many historians would suggest that Jesus didn’t exist.

    Why do you have such bitterness towards our “fairy tales.” Why not just let them be?

    Finally, I think it’s important to point out that many of us do not believe simply because we are afraid of death ending in nothingness. I would actually be quite comfortable with that eventuality if I believed it to be true. I may not be on the same page with Carlosk about this, but we are not all obsessed with the afterlife. Some of us happen to find that their reason, purpose, and even intellectual gratification in our faith here in this life. I’m sorry that you clearly have never met, or at least listened carefully to, a believer who could articulate these things. If you had, you wouldn’t need to continue attacking them and assuming that we are all intellectual infants.

  115. 115 Tino
    June 11, 2008 at 18:30

    “I never understood why DYING for some cause or another can be so great. Why not LIVE for the cause instead?”

    Because somethings cannot be achieved by ‘living’. We enjoy our freedom in this country because people are willing to put their lives on the line to secure it. So many of the rabidly anti-war people do not seem to understand that you cannot just live in peace when someone has set out to destroy you. It doesn’t work if someone wants to kill you in the street – you going to ‘talk’ to him while he is shooting you? So why should it work on a larger scale? When someone is determined to fight you, you can either bring the fight to them or get the hell beaten out of you.

  116. 116 Lara
    June 11, 2008 at 18:32

    Listening in Belfast

    I was told growing up that anyone who says they will die for their country (which ever side they are on) really means they will kill for it. There is no honour in killing.

  117. 117 Ruben
    June 11, 2008 at 18:32

    There is no honor in death; however it comes!

    There is something dignifying & dignified in making sacrifices (howver great) for a cause one genuinely believes in, whether it would be for work, for pleasure, or for others.

    When I look up “Honor” in the dictionary, I see such synonyms as: Integrity, Dignity, Reputation, Pride, Distinction …

    I am still searching and I still haven’t found the word “Death” as determinant of honor.

  118. 118 Goodwin in Malawi
    June 11, 2008 at 18:33

    Its a BIG “NO” for me. The small,greedy heartles people who start these wars are the ones that say so because they benefit from it. All that matters to them is achieving their goals. Dying while spreading and doing the work of God faithfully thats when u will be honoured with eternal life. The devil has decieved alot of people with fake honours. Peace and not honours is what the world needs.

  119. June 11, 2008 at 18:33

    The confilcts we experience today are basically resource wars, from Afghanistan to Africa. Follow the natural gas and oil pipelines! The armies are part and parcel of the multinational oil and military companies who have bought the politicians needed to promote their narrow agenda. The US’s Number One export is military hardware. All this is painstakingly laid out in Chalmers Johnson’s trilogy “Blowback”, “the Sorrows of Empire” and “Nemesis”. Soldiers and civilians alike are dying for corporate greed and profit, not “duty honor country” or even freedom.

    imbillorightsmanandiapprovethismessage in CLEVELAND OH

  120. 120 Justin in Iowa
    June 11, 2008 at 18:33

    It is the greatest honor to serve and love your fellow persons. That is the ideal that all truly good peoples aspire too. Dying for your country is, to many people, the ultimate expression of that ideal… as what else is the greatest sacrifice, than that of the potential of life? Is death good? No. A long life and the fulfilment of that potential would always be better. But sometimes that is not an option.

    Now if you will excuse me, this debate has reminded me of what I can do myself… I am going to go fill sandbags and try to save some businesses here in Iowa.

  121. 121 Robert in Leuven
    June 11, 2008 at 18:34

    “My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
    Pro patria mori.”

    Wilfred Owen

  122. June 11, 2008 at 18:34

    There is a clause in the US draft which allows for a sole remaining son of a family after the death of another who served not be compelled to enlist. I fall into this category. So is that not an honorable choice for me to honor my life more than the possibility of death as it benefits my family? I can tell you there’s more honor in me alive for my family, that’s already lost a lot in my 2 siblings.

  123. 123 Colleen D
    June 11, 2008 at 18:34

    I think two of the most admirable influences in modern history are Ghandi and Martin Luther King — both of whom stood for non-violence and humanitarian civil rights. These leaders are of the highest caliber of character. Yes they died in the name of their cause, but their cause was much greater and more universal than simply a country — and look at their legacies. They show us that it takes more courage and honor to face violence with non-violence than to face violence with more violence.

  124. 124 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 18:34

    @ Keith

    This is off topic, but the answer is simple. So long as people get killed over these fairy tales, religion is not legitimate. People are getting killed over it. Until this stops, religion should be outlawed. What do you value more, your fairy tale or life?

    If jesus truly had no father, then he didn’t exist, or Joseph was the biggest pushoever who ever lived, as he bought the “I swear I was a virgin! God must have done this!”.. Please…. Show me anyone who was born to a virgin. Is impossible, hence Jesus didn’t exist, or if he did, he wasn’t divine. How could he be killed if he were God anyways?

    Dying for your country is very permanent. It’s not something to take lightly, hence why we hold those who have in high regard.

  125. 125 David Baxter
    June 11, 2008 at 18:35

    I have the greatest respect for our armed services (British) and sympathy for all wives and families of service personnel (all nations) who have died in combat.

    Iraq and Afghanistan are not our concern and we should not be there. The British labour government just cannot help poking its nose into matters that do not concern it.

    If I was a serving member of the armed services, I would feel distinctly aggrieved. Forty years ago, the majority of the labour government were (and probably still are) fully paid up members of CND and probably protested on the barricades at Greenham Common.

    The British government now send our brave servicemen and women out as cannon fodder; they don’t really care and as the parent of a son in a regiment in the British territorial army which has sent a unit to Afghanistan, I feel distinctly uneasy.

  126. 126 Michael in Portland
    June 11, 2008 at 18:35

    I served 4 years in the U.S. Marine Corps of which 20 months included serving in Viet Nam. We had many sayings in Viet Nam of which one of the favorites was:
    “We are the Unwilling, Led by the Unqualified, Doing the Unnecessary, For the Ungrateful”

    There are no high ideals on the battle field for which people are willing to die. On the battle field your goal self survival and the survival of your buddies.

    However, the responsibility for placing people in a position for which they may die in the service of their country rests with the people who elect the leaders of that country. People have a thousand reasons for voting or not voiting but few consider the potential decisions leaders may make which results in the death of fathers, sons, uncles, brothers, friends. The voting choices people make is usually about their own private concerns and welfare. For most, unless they lose someone to hostile conflict in the service of their country, the death of a military person is an abstract political concern.

    Once you commit to wearing the uniform of your country you are also committed to executing the policies of that country’s leaders via following the lawful orders of such leaders. It the leaders are wrong in the adoption of polices which leads to the death of military personnel it is the obligation of the citizens to quickly rebute such policies and leaders in such a manner as to effect the immediate savings of the lives of additional military personnel. The duty of military personnel is to the citizens of their country not the leaders. Leaders are impowered to only speak for the collective citizenry of a country. If there is a failure in policy and it is allowed to continue then it is the citizens who have failed their military.

    In this regard, any and all military personnel deserves to be honored and remembered by ALL of the citizens of their country for whom they surrendered their life. Those who have served in a combat zone and lived should also be honored. Citizens can do no less and remain worthy of anyone putting on a uniform.

  127. 127 Scott Millar
    June 11, 2008 at 18:36

    VictorK,

    Thanks, for revising your argument in the last sentence of your response—not for all the fluff in-between.

    Yes, many think “Nazis” clinch every argument, I’ve often said the same—but so often they do, in this case they did! It certainly was a cliche, but not a counterpoint.

  128. 128 Vijay srao
    June 11, 2008 at 18:36

    Well yes ,It depends on the context,I knew someone who in the first Gulf war, stood in the desert and directed trucks ,if he had got run over It would not have been honourable,just an accident.
    Is it the soldiers fault that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been mismanaged and wrongly prioritised,No”Their’s not to reason why Their,s but to do and die”.
    One has to be careful of “makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep” .

  129. 129 Jonathan - San Francisco
    June 11, 2008 at 18:36

    A tough one, this. It certainly takes courage to be a soldier and face death or injury.

    But danger is not inherently noble. The mythology of honor and glory of war is a vile lie that substitutes for reason. Both sides in every war are convinced of thei honor of their cause. The myth of glory is a dangerous delusion. A relative few wars in all of history have been truly necessary and honorable; the rest have been tragic, obscene wastes.

  130. 130 viola anderson
    June 11, 2008 at 18:38

    For better or worse, no one acts in war or in peace because anyone wants to act dishonorably. Everybody acts from what they consider honorable motives. That is the issue that needs to be addressed if this question is to be answered in a meaningful and useful way.

    Heaven help us if honor becomes an archaic, outdated concept. Evil would truly gain the upper hand if no one even tries to be honorable.

    Soldiers who rape and deliberately kill innocents do not deserve honor even if they die in battle. If they die honorably, they deserve huge honor from those of us who do not fight our country’s battles.

  131. 131 Anthony
    June 11, 2008 at 18:39

    I have total respect for those who died in the revolutionary war, war of 1812, WWII, certain conficts, stuff like that. With this “war”, I feel like saying, “Oh well, what can ya do?”. I feel like because were in there with a horrible hidden agenda.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  132. 132 Heather-USA
    June 11, 2008 at 18:40

    of what consequence is this question or the many possible answers?

    Military service has morphed from a generally knee-jerk reaction as an outlet for anger of some percevied agression by another country into a way for poor, lower-class, often wayward citizens of the US to get a job, $ for education, bonuses for reinlistment.

    This is the ultimate exploitation of the lower-class.

    How can you claim honor for serving in a system which exploits weaknesses in out enemies?

    No, there is honor in national guard, disaster recovery, police, firemen, and those who serve in a just cause in helping or defending a DIRECT threat.

  133. 133 Andrew
    June 11, 2008 at 18:41

    Don’t forget that during the days of the British Empire, such anti-war sentiments were in the minority and viewed with nationalistic scorn, even the press were largely on the side of the government and “patriotic”.
    Once upon a time people were sent white feathers.
    Thankfully, we live in a more enlightened age, an age when the press like BBC is less gagged and people are more informed.

    How did BBC cover the second world war–as impartial as it is today? BBC, ask yourself. Masses believed in propaganda, radio broadcasts too.

  134. 134 John
    June 11, 2008 at 18:41

    Having been a USAF Pararescueman, I know many people who have served and given their lives for their country and countrymen. We are all volunteers (yes, there are Pararescue in Iraq and other places still). We were willing to go into very dangerous places to retrieve the injured and sick, treat them, and bring them out (evacuate them). Our motto was “These things we do, that others may live.” We did not kill, but if fired upon, would return fire. We saved people. There are many people alive today because of our activities, who would not have survived a typhoon, hurricane, being buried under the SF freeways, lost in the forest, an astronaut who missed his landing (Scott Carpenter), and many, many others who owe their lives to our activities.

    Saying that, we know how actually awful (in the full meaning of that word) war is, as we pick up the pieces of people affected by war. I personally was against our getting into Iraq, but know some in Pararescue who are serving there with great honor.

    I have now been in the safety field for about thirty years, which is a continuation of the work I began in the USAF, only on the other side of the injury equation. We need to work more in prevention of wars.

    John

  135. June 11, 2008 at 18:44

    Steve, you are just tossing scattered arguments. If you really want to have the whole debate I could respond intelligently to each of your gotcha points, but I am guessing based on a bit of history with you on here, that you are not interested in listening to anything I have to say with an open mind.

    Outlawing religion is the answer to world peace? Remember Stalin?

    Asking whether I value my life or my “fairy tale” more is not an answerable question. I believe it is best to hold on to your own life with a loose grip, and value the lives of others more highly then your own. So, while I love my life and am not interested in seeing it end prematurely, I don’t value it tremendously in an ultimate sense. But again, I’m sure you’ll just respond with more piss and vinegar instead of thoughtfully, so I don’t see the point continuing this with you.

  136. 136 Shirley
    June 11, 2008 at 18:44

    Damali Ayo brought up a good point: this…tells our children that you can only earn respect and honor through death. Doesn’t the way that we treat honour in association with militarism only promote a culture of death?

  137. June 11, 2008 at 18:44

    Shirley, what is TP June 12 that you are referring to?

  138. 138 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 18:46

    Too much antiwar sentiment on the show today. can antiwar people tell me any war in which they feel was justified?I honestly think the Iraq war is far more justified than WW1 is. Why was the US even in WW1? Were the millions of death in WW1 worth it? What was it even about? My treaty obligation says I have to go to war with someone else becuase you do? how stupid was that?

  139. 139 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 18:48

    @ Keith

    Why?Because you know you cannot answer my questions? How can jesus exist if he didn’t have a father? Something’s not right there. It’s either untrue that he was of virgin birth or instead he never existed.. Sorry. But it’ sYOUR job to prove it. If you don’t like it, then just admit it’s a fairy tale. So long as people get killed over that rubbish, religion, then it should be outlawed. I value life over someone’s belief in the supernatural. Maybe you should too.

  140. 140 Tino
    June 11, 2008 at 18:48

    Steve

    It isn’t even worth it. Religion is brainwashed into children when they are too young to question it. By the time they are older, society basically leaves religion as a ‘do not go there’ zone. Even scientists believe it, in spite of no evidence whatsoever. Normally rational people refuse to turn said rationality backwards unto their religion. To quote Sam Harris:

    “George Bush says that he talks to God every day, and people make him president of America for it. If he’d said he talked to God every day through his hair dryer, they’d call him insane. Why does the addition of the hair dryer make what he’s saying any less sane?”

    The answer is – it doesn’t. The things religious people say would commit others to a mental hospital. It is as if a portion of people believe it, that makes it less ridiculous. The fact that religion is still regarded as something you do not criticize drives me nuts, when as you say, it is getting people killed everyday. I think it just might be time we started criticizing the hell out of religions until they change for the better or disappear completely.

  141. 141 Stefan in Prague
    June 11, 2008 at 18:49

    What about the opposite question? is it an honour to kill for your country? all of those that have died were trained to kill, other people, in their countries, and these days more and more for corporate interests.

  142. 142 Peter
    June 11, 2008 at 18:50

    War is brutal, war is horrible. There’s nothing honorable about war, and there never was. But sometimes, sometimes, wars are necessary, when all other measures have failed.
    I believe that what you would call “honor” is just a measure to cope with the loss that parents and families experience. They don’t really feel honor inside, they feel sadness and emptiness. The “honor thing” has been sold to the people so that they put up with war. Nowadays, because of governments misleading people into unjust wars, most parents and families just feel anger instead of honor.

  143. 143 Fred
    June 11, 2008 at 18:50

    After 20 years in the US Navy, I am really fuzzy on what it means to “die for one’s country” means. When I joined I really felt that I was serving because I believed in the ideals of freedom of speech, defending the rights of me and my countrymen. in 1993 when I retired I did so because I didn’t see any rational connection between defending peoples’ rights and serving in the military.

    I don’t think anyone should ever die for a piece of ground, a piece of cloth. If you have to die do so in defense of your beliefs, or to protect those that can not do so for themselves. I feel that’s an ‘honourable’ reason.

  144. 144 Tom D in Oregon
    June 11, 2008 at 18:51

    Most wars are not fought for a country they are fought for some wealthy persons to gain some more wealth and property. So a large part of the question ought to be:
    “Is it still the greatest honour to die for some GLOBAL CORPORATION?”
    Is it honorable to kill and die for BLOOD OIL?
    In a word, NO! Buy it or do something different.

  145. 145 Don in Madrid
    June 11, 2008 at 18:52

    Is this a question about serving or dying for one’s country or dying for the interests of a select few who benefit from these world conflicts? The leaders of countries such as my own, the U.S, are twisting the notion of honour for their own gains. People like George Bush need to be held accountable for their lies if we are ever to restore the notion of honour to the military and focus on the real problems facing our world.

  146. 146 Mason in Park City, Utah
    June 11, 2008 at 18:52

    If you join the military at this time, you are expressing your support for the current policies, that is why all of the US armed Forces are struggling to meet their recruitment quotas…additionally I agree with your caller, the US Education System at the Primary and Elementary system teaches how great this country is and how great we always act, the military then uses these beliefs for recruitment, and once you are in it is very difficult to resist the brainwashing that promotes these beliefs and glorifies war

  147. June 11, 2008 at 18:53

    Too much antiwar sentiment on the show today

    I’d like to hear that said to an Irish person victimized in the war with England. But as long as we can hide behind the supremacy of our killing machine that won’t be in this protected forum.

    Never too much antiwar sentiment!

  148. 148 Mark
    June 11, 2008 at 18:53

    I believe that the very question, “Is it honorable to die for your country?” – prompts the image of suicidal insanity. this stands the actual definition on its head. Honor is involved in the sense of duty and a belief that what is being fought for is right. If it is right and justified, then honor is in making your enemy die for your country. Those who answer their countries call are the most honorable of a nation. They are also usually the poorest. It is the leaders of a country that determine whether they have used the honorable honorably or usurped them for a sinister or dishonest end.

  149. 149 Sunny in Canada
    June 11, 2008 at 18:54

    I recall on the train seeing a soldier with his huge bags, looking exhausted and wondering if he really felt like he was serving his country or if his views had changed from the time he signed up till now…
    I noticed not one person gave their seat, to an obviously exhausted soldier.. Inchina I recall seeing a soldier at a bus station and he was treated with respect, asked of where he was going, where he had been and told “thanks”
    honour depends on what your countries armies are doing and why!!

  150. 150 Genevieve
    June 11, 2008 at 18:55

    this is a great conversation, but ultimately it comes down to a matter of perspective. i personally think there is no honor in dying for your country, but if the soldier fighting believes there is honor, then his or her death is honorable. if they don’t believe fully in what they are doing then for them there is no greater honor.

  151. 151 Alan in Portland, Oregon
    June 11, 2008 at 18:56

    two points:
    1. Focusing on the “honor” of our soldiers can perpetuate an unjust or impossible mission. Iraq is not the first conflict in which Americans have been told that we must fight on because withdrawl would “dishonor those who sacrificed their lives.” That is not a mission.
    2. I have a hard time with this word “sacrifice.” Few if any soldiers “give” their lives. They risk their lives trying to kill the enemy, and do everything to minimize that risk. Now the USA is using drones controlled from the Rocky Mountains to drop bombs in the Middle East.

  152. 152 Ayo
    June 11, 2008 at 18:58

    I have always said that there are 5 reasons people join the army or go to war.
    1) Racism and a desire to annihilate a different group of people
    2) Mental illness/Suicidal tendencies and a feeling that ones life is not useful and so one may as well be killed since one doesn’t have the courage to do it by oneself
    3)Force; one was drafted and had no choice as is the case of many a child soldier
    4)Stupidity; actually believing that one is joining the army because one will get to go to college tuition free afterwards, only problem is you may die and never come back
    5)Ignorance; you actually think there is honour to be achieved from self sacrifice for an issue which is both mundane and is only orchestrated by greedy politicians
    None of these reasons is honorable, so therefore what is the honor in killing yourself for your country. Let other idiots do it for theirs. Living to see another day when you can build up your country, now that is honorable.

  153. 153 Jonathan Rasmussen
    June 11, 2008 at 18:58

    Let’s bear in mind that half a century ago, the Nazis and Japanese (especially the Japanese) were absolutely convinced of the honor of dying for their country. Their cause was simply wrong, as today’s Germans and Japanese know so well. This mystical code of honor is cynical, dangerous brainwashing.

    It takes nothing away from the courage of those who die, and those they leave behind, to say that most wars would be better not faught. Some are truly necessary; in those cases soldiers fight and die for a good cause. Combating true evil is worth risking death for. Cynical political endeavors are not.

    Don’t die for your country. Fight for a good reason, if there is one.

  154. 154 Tom in Oregon
    June 11, 2008 at 18:59

    One of the smartest people who ever lived said this about it:
    “Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how passionately I hate them!” – Albert Einstein

  155. June 11, 2008 at 19:00

    Ok Steve, if you insist I will try to answer your questions. I certainly didn’t refrain for lack of confidence. However, there is a fundamental difference here that makes our conversation a bit pointless. If you don’t believe in anything that is not empirically provable, then I can’t answer your questions in a way that you would regard with anything but contempt. My faith is experiential more than it is empirical. I believe, which you will regard as ludicrous of course, that God was the father of Jesus. It isn’t my job to convince you of anything. I’m simply asking you to exercise a little more civility and to respect my intellect even though I believe differently than you do. I don’t have a burning desire to prove you wrong. I don’t even have a burning desire to defend myself.

    You didn’t respond to my note about Stalin. While there are people dying over religion, there are many who die over greed for land, resources, etc. Meanwhile the world’s religious also work for peace in great numbers. It is a wildly simplistic view to pin the world’s endless cycle of war to religion.

  156. 156 Shirley
    June 11, 2008 at 19:00

    Bob Macdonald referred to monitoring Afghanistan and Iraq “to ensure they do not attack us again.” The problem is that they did not attack us in the first place. There were no Iraqis on those planes. While Afghanistan provided a location for al Qaeda jihadist training camps, their average citizens had nothing to do with 9-11. There was no al Qaeda in Iraq until we went there and basically opened the door for them. Iraq had no plans to attack the U.S. In fact, they lacked the ability to attack anyone. The fact that we are bringing our war to those who had nothing to do with attacking us is dishonourable.

  157. 157 Mike
    June 11, 2008 at 19:00

    Because we in the US have a volunteer army it is impossible to do as so many want… claim that soldiers are honorable even if a war is dishonorable. Those who sign up for military service, even if young, bear a moral responsibility for their decision to become professional killers or to assist professional killers.

    If there was a draft, we might speak of honor. If the U.S. was fighting a just war in Iraq we might speak of honor. But, those who volunteer and volunteer again have made a choice and it is a far less honorable choice than that made by those who resist or refuse to serve.

    I feel great sympathy for the parents and children who allow themselves to be caught up in war, but we cannot escape the fact that a choice was made and it was, at root, made with foreknowledge of the American imperial agenda and it was a bad choice.

    People want to believe that lives are not being wasted without purpose, but they are. That is a terrible and hard truth that few want to face… and so we speak of honor. There are elements of honor in an individuals life, but to some considerable extent they are balanced against the dishonor of associating one’s self with a dishonorable cause.

  158. 158 james
    June 11, 2008 at 19:00

    You have made a serious error on today’s program. Your host said that the men who attacked New York on 911 were trained in Afghanistan ! HOG WASH, they trained in flight schools in Florida ! Should Bush not bomb those flight schools or perhaps shut them down?

  159. 159 SSOlomon in Salt Lake city, Utah
    June 11, 2008 at 19:01

    The experience of fighting a battle or administering a war demands its replay in the mind and its expression in the printed word in an effort to grasp its meaning. To the soldiers of the UK and the US, I said thank you for your honor.
    It was the courage of the people of the United Kingdom that kept their people free from the tyranny of Adolf Hitler and together with the US, they brought freedom not only to their people, but to the rest of the world.
    This is the honor and the ultimate price of war, to give a life in order to save a generation of people. The greatest honor of all.
    Survival is not an eye for an eye.

  160. 160 Zack in Plainfield USA
    June 11, 2008 at 19:02

    Those who serve and who have served are truely noble and Honourable, so are those who lost their lives serving. But, political leadeships, wage the wars for their selfish interests (read the Iraq War) It is not honorable to lie, put innocent soldier’s lives in line, selfishly kill innocent civilians in the name of fighting terrorism. Yes, it’s noble to kill, to defend one’s country, the Iraq war brought more suffering and senseless loss of lives on both sides of the isle.
    Bravo to the veterans, but let us be careful, about what we wedge war for.

  161. June 11, 2008 at 19:03

    Tino, where does your notion that war is something you don’t criticize come from? People like you and Steve are all over me like white on rice as soon as I so much as mention my faith in the context of a forum discussion.

    Feel free to criticize away, I just wish you could also learn to listen with an open mind…and I don’t mean so that I can convert you, I mean so that we can actually have dialogue and work at understanding one another. Steve is clearly not interested in this, are you?

  162. 162 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 19:04

    @ Keith

    So a fictional entity, whom there is no proof of its existence other than that written in a book fathered a child? interesting. As for stalin, he was a megalomaniac, like most politicians. Religion, or the lackthereof, had nothing to do with his brutality and evil.

    Again, I value life more than I value “beliefs”. If everyone else did, there would be world peace. My “words” don’t get people killed, but religion does. Perhaps you should value life a bit more, and if more people did, we’d probably have world peace.

  163. 163 Alan
    June 11, 2008 at 19:04

    World War I and II and all the wars before and since are all about one country trying to dominate the other and obtain or keep control of the world’s resources. Forget those honorable reasons mentioned by your guest. For Britain it was to save it’s empire. For the Americans it was to create one of their own or expand on what they had already conquered. For the Germans it was to expand its control of Europe and get the Middle East oil, then controlled by Britain and France. Every empire since Alexander The Great has tried to conquer Afghanistan for geo-political reasons. They all failed. This present attempt by America using NATO will also fail. The war on Iraq was not to save the Middle East from Saddam Hussein but to consolidate America’s presence in the Middle East. Hitler took on more than he could handle and lost. America and the West are doing the same.

  164. June 11, 2008 at 19:05

    Well said, Shirley.

  165. 165 Jessica-NY
    June 11, 2008 at 19:05

    This is a difficult thing to answer in today’s world.

    I have and know people in the military and have lost loves ones in war. It is a brave thing to criticality analyze his/her country’s political motives that put military and other people’s lives in danger. One should believe and understand what they are doing, and not just because they are taught to follow orders. I want to commend all the service men and women who dare examine their roles and action in war and at the service of their country.

  166. 166 Gerry in Berlin
    June 11, 2008 at 19:06

    Talk about defending democracy is pure propaganda. Our so-called leaders have consistently stifled emerging democracies since WW2 and before. Wars are about valuable resources, and the war in Afghanistan is no different: it’s principally about gas and oil pipelines out of the Caspian region.

  167. 167 Brian in Seattle
    June 11, 2008 at 19:07

    In response to the woman from the UK who sadly lost her son in Afghanistan and said something to the effect that only the best and brightest would choose to serve in the military, my dozen or so aquaintances and friends (special forces and officer training excepted) in the armed forces have proven to be the ones lacking life direction or career interests, having been persuaded by the lure of recruiters promising travel, college benefits and, quite plainly, the chance to carry a gun or drive a tank.

    While that’s not the case with every soldier, to hear my friends’ reasons for joining makes the idea of a valiant young man devoting his life solely for the lofty ideals of defending freedom and love of country seems a tad disingenuous.

    That said, those who perish or suffer in battle for their country should be highly honored, no matter their initial motives.

  168. 168 Douglas - Canada
    June 11, 2008 at 19:10

    My father fought through all of WWII and in the Middle east beyond that, but he did not do so for queen and country. Like many in his poor Yorkshire mining village, he was recruited by local politicians promising greater social benefits and equality for all once the war was fought and won. The truth, he came to realize afterwards, was that WWII was all about economics and politics rather than any great cause for justice, and the world did not change. We used to fight about steel, and now we fight about oil whilst our leaders continue to try and whitewash the picture with tales of democracy and justice.

  169. June 11, 2008 at 19:12

    Steve, you completely missed my point about Stalin. The point I was getting at was that the communist ideal of a religionless utopia has a fatal flaw which can be equally as deadly, and it is, as Stalin illustrated, humans’ propensity for dealing death to others to elevate themselves.

    As to my belief about the virgin birth, yes. You are simply illustrating what I predicted, that you would have utter contempt for my response. I am continuing to ask you to attempt a civil discussion where we both might be able to learn something, yet you respond with bitter invectives. I just said to you that I openly admit to believing in things that are not provable and you respond with “So a fictional entity, whom there is no proof of its existence other than that written in a book fathered a child.” What’s the point?

  170. 170 James in northern Uganda
    June 11, 2008 at 19:17

    its never realistic to honour someone who dies tryin to kill someone. If he was not killed, he was goin to kill without mercy. Human should not kill human. I do honour people who respects human life. Thanks

  171. 171 Janai Calluy
    June 11, 2008 at 19:17

    http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/.

    Make sure your country itsself is honorable.
    Watch this movie, I dont believe it all but it makes you think.

  172. 172 James in Oakland, California
    June 11, 2008 at 19:18

    Once a person becomes a soldier, there is no choice or decision to make except to obey orders. The question of justification or reason for sending young men and women to die rests with the political administration. In the current Iraq-Afghanistan quagmires, the quoted reason of “defending one’s country” is non-sensical. To this day, neither the US or UK have provided a response to Cindy Sheehan’s highly justified question: For what noble cause did my son die?

  173. 173 Dennis
    June 11, 2008 at 19:18

    I think it is a honour to die for your country, if the war is a necessary….

    Dennis
    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  174. 174 George Zubaty
    June 11, 2008 at 19:20

    I think that “honour” is a much misused concept. The honour in being a soldier is in doing his/her duty. That duty is served by being true to the values of bravery, truthfulness, humility and love. Three generations of men in my family have killed other men in wartime. My grandfather killed Germans, my father killed Vietnamese and I most likely killed Iraqis. None of us killed for “God and country.” Rather we killed for the men to our right and to our left. Sometimes we killed out of fear, sometimes we killed because the mission demanded it but in all cases we killed because the men and women we trusted to govern our country made the decision that it was necessary.

    In the first case I have little doubt that my grandfather’s war was justified, but at the same time I have little doubt that my father’s war and my own were not. My actions were mostly honourable, I am not a saint. But the actions of my government in the 1960’s and the current administration today are entirely dishonourable. In fact the two houses of congress are in strict deriliction of duty because of their failure to utilize the legal means at their disposal to hold the Bush administration accountable.

    The soldiers in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq are for the most part honourable but their service is sullied by the dishonourable and illegal actions of the government.

    I continue to serve my country by demanding accountability from our leadership. Bush, Cheney, the war profiteers and collaborators must be held accountable before the law. One cannot wrap himself in the flag and wipe his bottom with the constitution and call oneself a patriot.

  175. 175 Scott Millar
    June 11, 2008 at 19:20

    PRIDE? PATRIOTISM?

    The root of this problem is patriotism. There is no reason to be proud of the geographic boundary in which you are confined and generally don’t have a choice about. I like the country in which I live and at the same time I don’t like it. It is simply a place—not something to be proud of!

    Pride is an endorsement or advocacy. And, why advocate for one country over another? It makes sense to say there are things I like, about this place and that, or things I dislike about others. But to truly be proud and have patriotism for a place, because it is your area of residence seems arbitrary. Where do you draw the line: My city? My county? My state? My country? My continent? My planet earth?

    Pride can be very dangerous—especially when it is broadly, collectively and always used to rationalize death in the name of patriotism.

  176. 176 Tom in Bend, Oregon
    June 11, 2008 at 19:21

    A Great Warrior who learned the hard way said this after WW2:
    “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who are hungry and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” – Dwight Eisenhower

  177. 177 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 19:22

    @ Keith

    So we should just accept that there will be people killed over religion on a daily basis, because the Soviet Union failed to eliminate religion?

    It’s funny about the “virgin” birth, in the original greek, the word translated into “virgin” means “young” in greek. Even different version of the bible cannot agree on whether there was a virgin birth. Let me ask you, are you saying it’s possible for virgins to give birth today? Do you think God will “father” another person in the future? Say if Jesus’ DNA were found? Let’s assume he actually existed, he must have DNA, and they would be able to do paternity tests if they had a sample from Joseph.. What would happen if it turns out Joseph really was his father, given the translation of the word in the bible is subject to question?

    Give me one shred of evidence there is a God, and only then, at that point will my mean mean words be 1/100000th as bad as the people on a DAILY BASIS getting killed over religion.

  178. 178 lupie
    June 11, 2008 at 19:23

    I dont think that soldiers join for honor. I have been in the army for 5 years. I help new soldiers in process to our unit (a combat support hospital) and I always ask them in the inital counsoling ‘why did you join?’. I have never heard ‘for my country’ or ‘because it’s honorable’. It’s always ‘for school money’ or ‘i was in a bad way, and needed to get out’.

    I just volunteered as a medic for a recruiting event.
    same same

    If only the military did not offer all these benefits. If the only benefit was a job and honor, I think there would never be a dishonorable war. Quite possibly no war at all.

    I am not against benefits for soldier or supporting our troops. Of course I want money and school and health care. Look down on me if you want, but I am one of the soldiers that joined for the benefits only…
    Who didn’t?

    Patriotism? I hardly know what that means…
    Does it mean I should go to Iraq?
    Does it mean I should go to Canada if I am called to Iraq?
    I share the confusion about our intentions in Iraq.
    If I need to take that 18 hour plane ride, I want to know that I am doing it for more than school and health care and my comrades. I want to know it’s for a better reason. I am not sure I will get that.

  179. 179 VictorK
    June 11, 2008 at 19:27

    @Scott: I’ll be generous and say that you are either a little confused or very inattentive.

    My very first post stated: “It is always honourable to die in defence of one’s country and the safety of one’s people. Only a social parasite would argue otherwise.” In other words to die not as the aggressor but in defense of one’s land and people (seems clear enough). You chose only to quote the first eleven words, allowing you to misrepresent my position as something along the lines of ‘it is always honourable to die in defence of any country…even if it is one like Nazi Germany’. Some people would call your approach to argument disingenuous, but I still prefer ‘careless’ or ‘confused’. My later re-statement of that position was largely for your benefit, though a more careful and less confused disputant wouldn’t have needed it at all since most people understand the difference between defending one’s country and attacking another’s. The ‘fluff’ was just to explain to you how your Nazi reference fitted into all of this, i.e. not at all, being nothing more than argument by intimidatory propaganda (as so many unwarranted references to the Nazis turn out to be).

    “To die defending your country from unprovoked and unjustified aggression is always honourable” i.e. ‘it is always honourable to die in defence of one’s country and the safety of one’s people’ – now that that’s finally clear I take it that you agree, and if you don’t please state what your position actually is?

  180. 180 John in Portalnd, Oregon
    June 11, 2008 at 19:29

    As an American vet of the Persian Gulf 1, I can safely say that any military service is honorable. However, the nationalistic, “God and Country”, aspect has become simply a punch line. A perfect example of what we are told and the reality of the situation is a simple look at how the US government treats its veterans. Those in power willingly send men and women into combat treat them like used equipment after their job is done. If service to one’s country is honorable, then the country must revere that commitment with more than patriotic songs, folded flags, and platitudes on Veteran’s Day.

  181. 181 lupie
    June 11, 2008 at 19:30

    ps i am American… but I am not sure what that means either.

  182. 182 Sarah in Indiana, USA
    June 11, 2008 at 19:31

    The fight for the ideological values of the US was very clear during the World Wars – values of freedom, etc. Many young men and women who join today desire to fight for and defend those same values, but find they are policing and monitoring a territory where the U.S. merely has special interests; often economic interests. The emotion connected to defending the ideological foundations of our country is cheapened when one finds they are only fighting for materials and knowledge of materials. People, on both sides, should not have to die for this.

  183. 183 Mason in Park City, Utah
    June 11, 2008 at 19:32

    Theoretically having a volunteer military allows the people to determine the strength of that military, if a person does not agree with the aggressive policies of the country they can choose not to join…unfortunately socio-economic forces leave the military as one of few options for many, that is why it is always the rich man’s war and the poor mans fight, which forces many of our young people into service….why haven’t Jenna Bush and Chelsea Clinton serving in the military?  Both of their parents have made votes, and supported our current wars, and they both have campaigned in favor of their parents, and their policies?

  184. 184 kathi25
    June 11, 2008 at 19:37

    @ Defending Nazi Germany:

    I’m Austrian, my grandparents were Nazi-party members who realized somewhen around 1942 that they were wrong. Yet, even after the war, when all the attrocities of the Nazis came to light, not just my grandparents but EVERYONE despised deserters and honored the soldiers who gave their lifes, even though it was entirely for the wrong cause. To make matters worse, I recently read in my fathers school book, Grade one (he was born 1933), where they glorified being a soldier and going to war.

    The big point is that times have changed. Today, with all the information around and everyone having a free choice (at least in the western world), it shouldn’t be so easy anymore for politicians to send their soldiers into unjustified wars.

    You know what Hitler said on the radio on September 1, 1939: “Seit 5.50 wird zurueckgeschossen.” “Since 5.50 am we shoot back.”

  185. June 11, 2008 at 19:38

    Steve, again I’m not trying to prove anything to you. That is an interesting point you raise about the greek for virgin. Honestly, if someone proved that Joseph was biologically his father, that wouldn’t particularly challenge my faith. It doesn’t change the larger picture of what I believe.

    Re: communism – “So we should just accept that there will be people killed over religion on a daily basis, because the Soviet Union failed to eliminate religion?” I don’t ask you to accept anything. I am just questioning your logic of cause and effect, that somehow eliminating religion would stop senseless killing. I think something like 6 million people were killed under Stalin. I only offer that to illustrate that some of the popular alternatives to religion for conducting society can also end in violence. My belief is that people have a tragic propensity to kill one another, whether religion is part of the equation or not.

    I don’t pretend to be a great apologist for the Christian faith, so I am not terribly interested in finding shreds of evidence for the existence of God. There are plenty of debaters out there who can do it better than I can. If you and lived nearby I’d invite you out for a few beers, have us both read the latest books by Dawkins and the like, and some counterpoints by Christian scholars and then discuss. But I would hazzard a guess that you have such hatred for Christians that you’d avoid such an interface with a ten foot pole.

  186. 186 Jan
    June 11, 2008 at 19:40

    So,
    I ask,
    Was Corey Glass’ decision to flea to Canada an honorable one?
    And, I ask to those who believe that there is no honor in fighting a war.
    I have already stated my own opinion on his case, but would be interested in hearing others.

  187. 187 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 19:43

    Nah, I would have no problem with that. I don’t hate christians, I hate religion. ALL religions. Can I ask you something else? Given all the people that have been killed due to religion over the years, do you think religion is worth it? Would you tell to all those people who have been killed due to religion, if there were an afterlife, that religion is worth it?

    I’m not saying there would be no war if there were no religion, I am saying there would be no killing over religion. I’d personally rather get killed over oil or my watch than be killed over someone’s belief in a fictional deity.

  188. 188 lupie
    June 11, 2008 at 19:53

    I agree with Mason. I think that those who ‘support the war’ should do more than flap their gums. They should put their kids in the Infantry. They should put themselves in.
    Please, please… those with ideals about how Iraq is a breeding ground should either replace me when my 18 hour plane ride/ 18 month tour comes up… or convince me why I shouldn’t bounce to Mexico with the ol hubby.
    One or the other. Dont leave me flappin in the wind.
    Dont leave me with visions of mangled bodies and blood-covered hands and no reasons for it but money and oil.

    I joined when I was 17. Not knowing what the heck I was in for. Politics? I couldn’t even vote.
    dont even know how to now honestly.

    not an excuse, but nonetheless, here I am…
    On a moral rollercoaster with no way off.
    Left and right I am pulled and pushed…
    always zipping faster and faster toward a ’09 tour…
    who knows where…who knows why? who can i believe?

  189. 189 Scott Millar
    June 11, 2008 at 19:58

    VictorK,

    Why restate it at all if it was clear and correct the first time? I didn’t misrepresent anything.

    You could just simply say “yes, sorry I made an error” and it would be done with. I am not confused at all. I read your post in its entirety the first time. Reading it again – it still, ISN’T: always honourable to die in defence of one’s country and the safety of one’s people. Clearly people sometimes need defending because they are being attacked for their own abominable actions—which could make dieing in their defense dishonorable.

    I didn’t re-quote your entire post because it was unnecessary for the sake of brevity—and the rest of it I generally didn’t disagree with.

  190. June 11, 2008 at 20:01

    Do I think religion is worth it? For me that’s like asking if I think the passage of time is “worth it.” If I say I don’t think it’s worth it, that wouldn’t make time stop for me or anyone else. I don’t think anyone should be killed because of religion but if God exists, then God exists…whether or not I think belief in him or her is irrelevant.

    Also, I’d like to make a distinction Steve. Religion and belief and corresponding practice or relationship with God are not necessarily the same thing. I hold a good bit of distrust and great deal of frustration with organized religion. I find that a truer practice is less conspicuous and less organized, and also less self-righteous and less likely to spur some deluded fools into being willing to kill over it.

  191. 191 VictorK
    June 11, 2008 at 20:01

    To those who claim that war uses the poor as fodder to advance the interests of the ruling class: not in Britain, where the country’s traditional elite has always led and been overrepresented in the military, and has been equally overrepresented in the losses suffered in military conflicts (no British leftist dares to criticise the war record of the ruling class).

    @Shirley: the Taliban shielded bin Laden and his followers and refused to hand him and them over to the US (which was in some ways an honourable position to take – not to surrender a guest). But in the wake of 9-11 the US was perfectly entitled to act against the Taliban, and no one can claim that it didn’t give them an opportunity to avoid a military attack. The mistake was in converting the overthrow of the Taliban – which was as much of a warning as anybody needed who was minded to assist America’s enemies – into a long term mission to bring ‘freedom and democracy’ to the people of Afghanistan. That was well-intentioned but unmerited and a misuse of the US’s military and financial resources.

    Several reasons were given for the attack against Iraq. Some we now know were outright lies. Others shouldn’t be so easily dismissed or forgotten. Pre-emptive action to remove Saddam before he began to act in concert with terrorists like al Quaeda was plausible. And while, in retrospect, the Coalition can’t ever have had hard evidence of WMDs, the fact remains that Saddam – for reasons that went to the grave with him – chose to act as if he did, when he could have averted war by simply giving UN inspectors free and unfettered access to the country. Saddam’s behaviour, which suggested that he did indeed have WMDs, even in the absence of hard evidence to confirm the point, was sufficient to warrant military action. Again, the mistake lay in transforming what should have been an oust-and-replace operation into a long term utopian strategy to bring democracy, freedom and increased sunshine to Iraq.

    BTW, it’s all very well saying that it was wrong to attack Iraq and Afghanistan because they weren’t involved in 9-11 (regardless of the fact that there were other reasons for attacking them). But as you know, most of the 9-11 terrorists were Saudi nationals: would you, then, have endorsed US military action against that country?

  192. 192 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 20:04

    @ Keith

    You’re saying you would rather that person be dead, who was killed over religion, than there be no religion? If you have no religion, nobody will kill over religion. You’re saying their life was just a price to pay for other people’s religious beliefs? I would say to that person that religion is not legitimate if you lost your life over it. That it has lost all worth, even if a small minority are crazy, so long as there is ONE person willing to kill over religion it needs to go. Control you loons. If you cannot, then get rid of religion.

  193. 193 Colleen D
    June 11, 2008 at 20:17

    @ steve

    It’s not religion in and of itself that causes problems. It is the extremeist members that manipulate the messages of various religions to justify deplorable acts. It has happened many times through history in many different religions.

    It’s the same way that political leaders manipulate various ideas (i.e. freedom, liberation, nationalism) to justify similar deplorable acts.

    In both cases it is the flawed character of leaders who use social constructs of religion, nation, or anything else to pursue self-interest and greed and influence the minds of their followers or citizens. The constructs themselves aren’t necessarily the problem.

  194. 194 ADISA LANSAH
    June 11, 2008 at 20:19

    In Ghana, there’s a saying that all die be die. it is better to die with honor and for honour than to be killed by armed robbers in broad day light. there s something about honour that goes beyond the physical. if one died while fighting for country, even the bones in the grave will freel honoured.

  195. June 11, 2008 at 20:20

    No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that if I believe something to based on a reality (even if it is intangible and therefore obviously by your definition non-existent), then there is no point talking about whether or not is “worth it.” It is or it isn’t. I don’t quite understand your all or nothing approach – as if all religion is equal. That a mother theresa who spends her life quietly helping the most destitute among us is apparently of no greater or redeeming value to the world than Jerry Falwell.

    There is plenty of “religion” that is destructive, based on and playing into insecurity, judgemental, etc. etc. But all those things exist in other systems too, and they are the ultimate reason that people are killed over ideas, not the ideas themselves.

    The New Testament suggests that “Religion which God finds pure and faultless… is to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Does this sound like the spirit behind the mass killing machine that you are describing? If people completely followed the teachings of Christ we would have a world full of people who deferred to others and always looked to lift the lowest up and keep the powerful and greedy in check. Does that jive with your personification of the monolithic “religion” that you are speaking of?

  196. 196 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 20:31

    @ Keith

    But even Mother Theresa did what she did for something. she wanted people to convert to christianity, whereas athiest will do such work with no expectations. She had a covert contract, I help out the poor, and they consider christianity in return. Covert contracts are in a way, dishonest.

    Didn’t christ say “I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword”?????

    So long as there are some people willing to kill over those ideas, the ideas need to go away until people can be mature enough to not kill over things.

    It’s the 21st century. We just launched a telescope that can see gamma rays. That people still kill over “religion” is absolutely pathetic, and shameful.

  197. 197 VictorK
    June 11, 2008 at 20:43

    @Steve – you wrote ‘Didn’t christ say “I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword”?????

    So long as there are some people willing to kill over those ideas…” I think you’re being unfair.

    As you know Christ taught in parables and with the use of metaphors. In no part of his teaching, literal or metaphorical, did he ever endorse violence or instruct his followers to harm anyone. More orthodox Christians than me can give a proper account of the particular text you mentioned, but it certainly wasn’t an injunction to be violent or to kill. Christianity, as far as its teachings go, is an extremely pacific religion, much like Buddhism. Even when Christians have been violent, there have usually been other Christians to condemn that violence because of its being contrary to the spirit of the gospel (and it’s an important point, that liberates Christianity from the often fatal literalism of other creeds, that Christ also taught that the ‘the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life’). It is the spirit of what Christ taught that counts most of all, and violence has no part at all of that spirit.

  198. June 11, 2008 at 20:45

    Steve,

    It is sad that you can’t have the maturity, to use your word, to see the acts of someone like Mother Theresa as having value. She certainly wasn’t doing anything covert. Man, you really must have a chip on your shoulder. Mother Theresa did what she did out of selfless love, and I am sure she also shared her faith as well, but one was not a covert tactic to get at the other.

    The context for those words of Christ were about religion and ideas funnily enough. He was referring to the way in which his radical change would divide the dogmatically religious from those truly after God’s own heart. His way of a vital faith built on compassion and self-sacrificing love would come as an assault to the self–important law obsessed religious establishment. It had nothing to do with physical violence or killing.

  199. June 11, 2008 at 21:07

    thanks victor, that was very well put.

  200. 200 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 21:10

    @ Keith

    I didn’t say she didn’t do any good. What I’m saying she wasn’t as selfless as you claim. Are you saying there was no proselytizing involved with the work she did? Just gave aid, no questions ask, no sneaking them a bible, anything like that?

    “His way of a vital faith built on compassion and self-sacrificing love would come as an assault to the self–important law obsessed religious establishment. It had nothing to do with physical violence or killing.”

    So if you can’t take that literally, then you can’t take the virgin birth, or God, literally either, can you? Which parts do you have to take literally and which parts can you say “oh, what he really meant was…..”

  201. 201 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 21:17

    @ VictorK

    Given how violent middle age christians were, if they had 21st century weapons, the world probably would have come to an end. They would make the islamic violence done todya with modern weapons look like a walk in the park. we are LUCKY that christianity’s violent phase occurred when weapons technology was primitive.

    So christ taught “believe in me or go to hell”. Nice threat. But if he can read this, I say “no thanks”.

  202. June 11, 2008 at 21:17

    Steve, I’m not a literalist. Not all Christians are. I don’t believe Genesis is a scientific account, I believe it is a poetic one. And, yes, the bible has very differing kinds of literature. Even the words of Christ vary. Most certainly some portions were literal, and some were metaphor, and parable. I’ve already said, that it doesn’t even matter to me if the Virgin birth is true. That is incidental.

    So, to answer your question there are some very clear, and some not so clear, lines about what is literal or direct and what is not. When Jesus said to love others more than ourselves, even our enemies I think that is pretty straightforward and he meant it as such. There is context for all of this my friend. You can just grab a potentially damning (pun intended) line like the peace/sword bit and expect it to work as a counterpoint.

    Let me illustrate: I could quote you as saying about mother theresa “she didn’t do anything good.” however that would misconstrue your words because it’s only part of what you said.

    I’m sorry but this discussion is not nearly as simple as you would clearly like to make it.

  203. June 11, 2008 at 21:22

    Well, Steve I’m signing off for now, gotta go. I might suggest getting a massage or smoking a joint or something. You’ve got some serious anger going on!

    In any case, if you’re ever in Lancaster, PA I’ll be happy to make good on my offer to go out for a few beers and chat.

    Peace,

    Keith

  204. 204 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 21:24

    @ Keith

    But isn’t the bible written by God? If so, you’d think God would be able to write a little better, and keep it interesting, maybe, since he’s all powerful, he couldn’t manage to make it an interesting read.

    How can the virgin birth not matter? It completely matters, if it’s NOT true then Jesus cannot be the son of God, but rather the son of Joseph and Mary, completely disproving that he was divine.

    In all likelihood, say if there was a person named Jeshu would lived 2000 years ago in Judea, who claimed to be the son of God, do you think it is more likely than not that he was Not the product of a virgin mother and perhaps had a human father and probably wasn’t who he claimed to be?

    If someone today said that they were the son of God and were born from a virgin mother, they’d be locked up. But we trust, by blind faith the words written by people that would drill holes in heads to release evil spirits? People that you would rather die than take the medical advice from? People that thought the world was flat? People that couldn’t even figure out how to fly? People are absolute idiots back then, yet we gotta just trust them on this one?

  205. 205 steve
    June 11, 2008 at 21:26

    @ Keith

    Night. Twas interesting. I don’t make it up to PA much, but if I do, I’ll take you up on your offer.

  206. 206 Scott Millar
    June 11, 2008 at 21:41

    There are all kinds of Christians or so we are repeatedly informed. Are they all kinds of right? Or all kinds of wrong? Some are the good ones, who supposedly aren’t extreme. Then they label the extremists as the problem group. All the while saying it isn’t the religion just the people that cause the problem. No joke. What else could it be but the people?

    I think the time is well past to make the distinction between the beliefs and the application. It’s not a knife that can cut veggies or kill, it’s a religion, that supposedly guides and directs peoples’ lives. It isn’t just the people that are to blame. The religion itself needs to take some blame for at least being murky and left up to way too many interpretations. I would like to think that god didn’t need history or time to pass for his communication and language skills to advance.

  207. 207 Colleen D
    June 11, 2008 at 22:09

    I see what you are saying but think of it this way. Take an American citizen who opposes the current administration and the Iraq war. He/she does not believe that the current administration is actually promoting the true ideals of democracy and other American values such as freedom, civil rights, etc. But the current administration is in fact the legitimate leadership of the American democracy and was elected by the American population. So is it the construct of the American democracy that is to blame? Or is it how it is being administered? And some citizens would disagree with those who opppose the war. Are both of these groups American citizens even though they have very different ideas about how the American democratic system should work? Can multiple groups interpret the Constitution to mean different things? Now insert Christian for American citizen, Bible for Constitution, democracy for religion and religious leaders for administration….

  208. 208 Tino
    June 11, 2008 at 22:21

    “Tino, where does your notion that war is something you don’t criticize come from? People like you and Steve are all over me like white on rice as soon as I so much as mention my faith in the context of a forum discussion.”

    I never said you cannot criticize war, ever. I am on faith like white on rice because it does much more harm than good in the world. It has no business entering the real world, thank you very much. It is impossible to prove/disprove, to discuss rationally, etc.

    “I openly admit to believing in things that are not provable”

    But you would never believe these things if you were not indoctrinated as a child. I mean come on, do you not demand rational proof for everything else you come to believe in life? The only reason religion still exists is because parents force it upon children at a young age. People demand proof for every single thing in the entire world – except God.

    “It is the extremeist members that manipulate the messages of various religions to justify deplorable acts.”

    They dont manipulate anything. They take a literal interpretation of religion, huge difference. There has to be a problem with the faith itself for the extremists to also be a problem.

    “The New Testament suggests that “Religion which God finds pure and faultless… is to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Does this sound like the spirit behind the mass killing machine that you are describing?”

    No, but perhaps the old testament: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deuteronomy

    Religion is a prime source of violence. It divides people into sections, even more so than nation states because no country is above criticism but religion is generally taken to be. It is considered ‘offensive’ to make comments less harsh than the ones you people dish out towards the US, for example. The Quran is far worse than the bible, and the results of such a situation are readily apparent in today’s world. Look at how Muslims group together – over the boundaries of nation states – and see the problem yourself. The worst Muslim is considered better than many of the best infidels. Saddam killed far more Muslims than we have and yet the second we touch Iraqi soil we become the bad guys – all because of religion.

    “Most certainly some portions were literal, and some were metaphor, and parable.”

    And who gets to decide. More importantly, how do they know? Talking to God? Give me a break. The only reason Christianity is better than Islam today is because people finally decided to cut certain parts out and ignore them – with no real reason (but thankfully they did, time to cut the rest).

    @ Scott

    Fully agree, about time we started admitting religion is the problem. If you took it out of the equation – for example, suicide bombers – then their actions no longer make sense.

  209. 209 Scott Millar
    June 11, 2008 at 22:22

    Colleen D,

    I’m on my way out, but at first glance: there is a huge difference between someone who decides to be a Christian and someone who happens to live in America. I’m not proud to be an American I just happen to live here—I always question patriotism. There is really no similarity between a resident of a geographic location and a member of a religion—except maybe if they are a child or overly patriotic.

  210. 210 Tino
    June 11, 2008 at 22:23

    “And some citizens would disagree with those who opppose the war. Are both of these groups American citizens even though they have very different ideas about how the American democratic system should work?”

    Yes, but being a citizen has nothing to do with what you believe. You can either be born or naturalized here, but once that happens you are a citizen regardless of beliefs. Religion, on the other hand, is set via certain beliefs. For example, Christianity requires belief in Jesus or else you are not Christian. The situation is different.

  211. 211 Emile Barre
    June 11, 2008 at 22:46

    In a globalised world, countries have little relevance. Continents are what matter. Then naturally the cause must be just. Incidently, I like the photo of Roz Atkins.It reminds me of the Sphinx at Giza and a line from a WB Yeat’s poem indirectly related to it <> 🙂

  212. 212 Arden
    June 11, 2008 at 23:07

    Honor? What is that? Something found in early 20th century pulp novels not along ago regurgitated into black and white TV adventures? It is not honorable to be exploited by the exigencies of the interested few who dictate our national priorities. Dying on a battlefield for for those who claim your sacrifice is crucial to the preservation prime time TV viewing schedules is sheer stupidity. In an age of mass communications there is less honor than ever as minds are molded and remolded with the never ending march into our homes of adverts for products that cultivate our self-absorption. The sense of one’s honor is an expression one’s narcissism. Soda pop has more “honor” than the cannon fodder young recruits become. At least throw-away beverage containers get recycled.

  213. 213 Colleen D
    June 12, 2008 at 00:18

    @ Scott & Tino

    I was not saying they are the same things by any means, but they can be analogous. The frist point was that there can be a wide diversity of ideas and perspective under one label.

    The second point was that to make such a broad statement to the effect of “religion needs to go all together” is not realistic or a viable solution. Just as saying the whole concept of government needs to go is not realistic. Yes religions have led to some very horrible things throughout history. So have governments. But both of these things have also led to some very good things throughout history (it’s easy to focus solely on the negatives in these debates). The core concepts of religion and governemnt are not at fault, but when they are practiced in the extreme (religious extremism or extreme patriotism) or used as excuses to hurt others that is wrong.

    Humanity is clearly flawed so unfortunately history keeps repeating itself. But until there is an peaceful way to completely remove social structures and the history and traditions that go with them as you suggest… education, acceptance, and tolerance will be the only things that can curb extremism in any aspect of society.

  214. 214 Colleen D
    June 12, 2008 at 00:24

    and even if religions and nations were gone, from the lessons of history, it seems as though humans would just find something else to use to form separate groups and create conflict between those groups. figuring out why this has always happened would get to the true root of the problem.

  215. 215 Tino
    June 12, 2008 at 02:20

    “The frist point was that there can be a wide diversity of ideas and perspective under one label.”

    Yes, but not in religion. If the entire point of the religious designation is that you share a set of beliefs – and it is, or else how do you define a religion – then there cannot be a diversity of ideas and perspectives. The diversity of ideas and perspectives is what causes break offs/sects and then, no surprises here, infighting between the old and new group. See the Reformation for a historical view and for a recent one: http://in.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idINIndia-33975020080609

    “Thousands of hardline Indonesian Muslims rallied outside the presidential palace and Jakarta police headquarters on Monday to urge the president to disband a sect branded by many Muslims as “deviant”.”

    “Today is the beginning of our fight. We are ready to die for the Ahmadiyya sect’s dismissal,” said Abdurrahman of Indonesia’s Muslim Forum (FUI). “If SBY ignores us, we will bring him down.”

    And for what you say:

    “The Ahmadis refuse to accept the Prophet Mohammad as Islam’s final prophet, and say their founder is a prophet and messiah.”

    Do you see the difference now? Difference in opinion as a citizen in America is perfectly fine, as we promote difference of opinion. We even have two (real) parties in politics, not just one bloc of opinion. Such things are not tolerated in religion.

    Maybe humans would find something else to fight about, but at least it would be REAL. Like land, resources, etc.

  216. June 12, 2008 at 03:01

    Almost all of the wars that have been fought in the latter part of the twentieth century were started by old men who had the young die for their stupidity. The young were told that their country’s honour was at stake when the thing that was really at stake was the power or wealth of the old men who sent off their sons and their neighbour’s sons to die.

    In more recent times the old men who send of the young seem more prone to be doing so for simple financial gain.

    The young are often brainwashed by the modern education systems in perhaps a majority of countries so that the young are taught to believe that their local country is the centre of the universe, and that nothing is as important as having their (often ignorant) ideas dominate–not only within their own country, but in neighbouring ones, and even the entire world.

    One might look back at past wars through the whole wretched history of mankind and ask what was really accomplished by most of them! Some wars temporarily enabled the aggressors to force their ideas upon the conquored. Some forced various petty human religious superstitions upon their captors. Aggressors seem particularly devoted to claiming that their version of God demands that they kill and pillage in His name.

  217. 217 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 12, 2008 at 03:36

    @Scott — i’ve often thought the same thing myself that you posted at 7:20 and 10:22 p.m. Greenwich time: How odd a concept to be “proud” of something that one had no hand in (i.e., country of birth). One can feel fortunate, or jealous, or smug, or whatever, about being born in this country or that, but an accident of birth is hardly an object of pride, let alone death-defying devotion or fanatical allegiance. Globalization is making national borders less relevant, and in my view that’s all to the better.

    I have to admit though that my cool logic was shattered a few years ago when I learned that my United States was committing horrors in Abu Graeb and Guantanamo, kidnaping people, secretly imprisoning them, torturing them, and murdering them, including large numbers of clearly innocent people (though it would be indefensible for anyone). When I read the memos dismissing the Geneva Convention as “quaint” and confecting tortured, absurd excuses to violate it, along with Habeus Corpus, and any number of implicit and explicit rules of conduct governing the behavior of decent people in a legitimate country.

    To paraphrase Michelle Obama, that was the the first time I felt genuine patriotism–that is, I realized in my heart as well as my head just what a special important and noble thing America is, and how robbed, betrayed, violated, angry, and unutterably sad I was to see the soul of my nation besmirched and pissed casually away by people who are unworthy of it, who don’t understand it, whose temporary custody of its operation is a solemn responsibility that they treat as a cheap toy, who have no right to squander it.

    Being American is sheer luck of the draw for me, not anything I earned (unlike the millions who risk everything to come here from all corners of the world). But I felt, and feel, robbed of a birthright that I’d always taken for granted.

    If this country were truly threatened, there would be no shortage of people volunteering to save it–an excellent argument against a draft, and for that matter a standing army, never mind the behemoth hypermilitary we’ve spawned. Those people would indeed be honorable and noble–risking life and limb for a concept and for their fellow citizens. Those who fall in misguided, useless wars are no less honorable, no less brave. Their families have every right to be proud of them. But their nobility is ultimately wasted.

    I’ve strayed, at length, from the proposition of the day. Sorry. At least I didn’t get into religion. (sheepish grin) I’m out of here for the day.

    Can we talk about virginity tomorrow?

  218. 218 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 12, 2008 at 03:44

    Oh, except to remind Colleen D. that the current collection of cynical fiends running the U.S. administration are neither “legitimate” nor “elected.” OK, good night.

  219. 219 Brett
    June 12, 2008 at 03:47

    Clearly people sometimes need defending because they are being attacked for their own abominable actions—which could make dieing in their defense dishonorable.

    A VERY good point! I was trying to think of a way to say this earlier, and couldn’t have said it better!

  220. June 12, 2008 at 03:56

    As student and teacher of history, World History, I cannot think of a single time or period when war, killing, or dying for one’s city, city-state, country or nation could be rightfully considerered ‘an honor.’ The Greeks, the Romans, the Crusaders, and others, and us modern folks have considered killing and dying for one’s patrimony and inheritance an honor. I deny that it ever was! Making war, killing and death an honor is nothing but an attempt to make palatable a reality we abhor and fear but find ourselves helpless to overcome. Certainly today, with the American dream in shambles, shamed by the mess we’ve made in the world and America’s credibility, integrity and honor glaring at us from their utter absence, it is no longer possible to say or maintain that dying for this nation is an honor. Ditto, ditto for the UK AND ALL OTHERS. An honor would be to raise the consciousness of Peace, to stamp PAID on all war and killing, to find truly honorable ways to resolve differences and conflicts. An honor would be to serve one’s nation and the world in ousting the evils of EXCESS, ABUSE, CRUELTY, VIOLENCE. An honor for citizens of the United States would be to oust a corrupt government and its abrogation of Laws, its undermining of the national character, its destruction of our standing in the eyes of the world–and our own. An honor would be to restore America to the standards upon which its Founding Fathers created us, ‘One Nation … with Liberty and Justice for all.’ An even greater honor would be to enlist oneself in the pursuit not of personal happiness but of liberty, justice, and well being FOR all peoples in all places. For unless we find a way to make the world work for EVERYBODY, it will not continue to work for anybody for much longer.

  221. 221 viola anderson
    June 12, 2008 at 04:31

    @Shirley re: your reply to Bob MacDonald.

    Our fellow WHYS poster, Lubna, when discussing the Israeli/Palestinian issue said “we” when speaking to it. In doing so, I suspect she was expressing the solidarity she feels for her fellow Muslims in Palestine.

    That is the reason non-muslim peoples say, “They” must be prevented in making further attacks like 9-11. Muslim people in the middle east clearly face the rest of the world as one entity, even though most of them, like Lubna, are peaceful in nature.

  222. June 12, 2008 at 04:38

    When is Valour Not Valour
    The Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaklava on 25 October 1854 has come back to houd me again and again.
    Led by Lord Raglan, it was the supreme act of courage. Why would men of wealth and title, who lacked nothing, lead a hopeless charge into the fog, unsuspecting that the enemy would mow them down on the other side.
    For all the modern knowledge and discoveries today, we still don’t know what measure of courage, intelligence, greed and ambition each man has, and who give it! But courage is the one quality that gives man insight, only to whisk him away, as if he had never been.

  223. 223 Colleen D
    June 12, 2008 at 05:30

    @ jonathan

    i don’t disagree with you! but somehow they got there — and have been there for 8 years… and some people still support this administration’s ideals (i.e. mccain supporters)… and those supporters’ opinions are just as valid as my opposing opinions because we are in a free and equal country… i think i was playing devil’s advocate to some generalizations that were made previously and got misunderstood along the way.

  224. June 12, 2008 at 05:51

    I am very proud of the young people from the West, mostly the Americans who are serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. The crazies attacked America’s innocent citizens on 9-11. The Islamic wackos have been repeatedly attacking American, embassies, ships, citizens and our allies for over 30 years, and finally there is a point where you really do have to start defending yourself.

    With Iraq, that Arab Hitler had a sad history of attacking neighboring nations, and using weapons of mass destruction. He was a genocider and was truly a threat.

    Bush is really a great President in that he made a difficult decision to quickly attack those who attacked us, and simply could not do so without dealing with Iraq and the nut case who had already supported terrorists against our Allies.
    There is no way he could send in troops to target Middle Eastern enemies with a snake in the grass like the Arab Hitler. He was defiant for some 12 years after Desert Storm; not to mention he tried to kill Bush # 1, and fired upon American planes some 500 times after Desert 1 war, and kept killing Kurds and Shiites. He openly defied all UN sanctions and litterally laughed at everyone as he stole that oil money, built palaces and bought weapons. He pushed his luck and had two horribly cruel sons to torture and subjagate the Iraqi people after he was to leave the planet.

    The fact that, that dictator and his sons are dead and gone was one of the great fortunes of the Iraqi people.

    The crazies offer not much to the Middle Eastern people. Bush has remained steady at the helm in spite of all the truly ignorant people who stand their in odd views, that Bush was somehow wrong.

    I was drafted against my will into the military. I served in the Marine Corps as an infantryman,in Vietnam 68, 69, and 70. I was in many true blood baths. I ended up an Officer and adored the Marines who I served with. There was no glory in war. Just loss, mistakes, dissappointments, pain and loss of hope, true fear. Honor?…….only what one can rationalize from their own imagination to make it all have some meaning and purpose.

    When I came home after 3 years over there; I visited all the families who lost a son in my rifle platoon. There was an attempt to let the families know their son was with good Americans who tried their best to take care of each other, but war and the infantry has the basic mission to find, close with and destroy the enemy.
    Sometimes and actually quite often…..they kill us. That is war.

    The cause matters not much. When you are in a war there are those who want to kill you, and it is your business to survive and preside. So it is the skills, the tactical movements and basics that you concentrate on to live and fight by.

    If causes are important I would say the Americans in their wars with both Aphganistan and Iraq have been the most worthwhile of any war I’ve ever heard of.

    In WWII our enemy mostly attacked military targets, Pearl Harbor…..and the other guys in Europe who did not attack us pretty much were bad guys; attacking our allies and rated being wiped out.

    The only thing I am not impressed with regarding Bush is he is not being tough enough, and it should be a total war to end it decisively so it does not drag on for several decades. Here is the one mistake Bush is making.

    Wars….all wars are a series of mistakes, the ones who win usually have the leaders who have the resolve and the character to ignor the masses who think they know something about wars, but actually all they know is the things they chose to dream up as reality ……by cherry picking the news.

    The Americans and their Allies will win this war, they are right and the dumb crazies, the Jihadists will realize that they actually are the enemies of Allah when they end up see so many of their dead friends.

    troop

    Nehalem, Oregon

  225. 225 Tino
    June 12, 2008 at 06:23

    “That is the reason non-muslim peoples say, “They” must be prevented in making further attacks like 9-11. Muslim people in the middle east clearly face the rest of the world as one entity, even though most of them, like Lubna, are peaceful in nature.”

    Exactly, the infidels are wrong/bad no matter what – Iraq is case in point. He killed many many more Muslims than we have but we are still the bad guys.

  226. 226 Pangolin
    June 12, 2008 at 07:15

    As I sit here reading this a line of firefighters maybe eight miles away is putting there lives on the line in the dark, facing a wind-driven hot fire. The pilots who drop fire retardant on the fire lines to save crews and houses face far more risk than the average soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan. These people are literally buying minutes so the people at their backs can evacuate. Should they die, THAT is death with honor.

    In Iraq and Afghanistan our soldiers face enemies who had no interest, intention, or ability to attack the US or it’s citizens prior to Sept. 11th, 2001. The people who attacked us that day were from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates. So we go off and attack Iraq and Afghanistan?Sure some Al Qaida were trained there but they also had flight training in Florida. Should we attack Florida too?

    The fools that think attacking Iraq deters Saudi terrorists really need to go back to logic 101 for a refresher.

    US and “Coalition” soldiers and mercenaries who die in the current war have earned Darwin Awards, not honor.

  227. June 12, 2008 at 07:27

    I have particular trouble with people who say “I hate” when it comes to religion, and then question why there’s war over it. Hatred of religion in non-belief is the same as hatred by believing in one religion over another and it will always cause war. I similarly don’t like people who think it’s OK to proselytize, ‘just a little bit’ by placing their idol symbols higher than another. Lastly anyone repeatedly using the common term for the 3rd reich repeatedly is doing nothing but invoking it, either through overzealousness or just plain ignorance and lack of respect for the fallen.

    Ultimately Heather spoke the truth to question how that discussion benefited anyone: of what consequence is this question or the many possible answers?

    I know personally it only made me miss my brother more. One very small voice spoke louder than any in my mind:

    Lara in Belfast
    I was told growing up that anyone who says they will die for their country (which ever side they are on) really means they will kill for it. There is no honour in killing.

    I bring this up to say how much more I’d like to hear from Ireland about the conflict they had from England, I can’t imagine how agonizing it must have been to have a former ‘occupier’ in the N. Ireland conflict on without any contrast in Ireland.

    I’m not surprised; the whole topic as all of them are meant to benefit Britain and the BBC’s Royal backing first and foremost and it’s really only because we have freedom of speech that there is any consequence sometimes apart from Heather’s statement. But that’s not a complaint it’s a service to us and they have to make money on it.

  228. 228 David
    June 12, 2008 at 11:37

    10 Lee Roy Sanders, Jr.

    June 11, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Is it the greatest honour to die for your country?

    HELL NO!

    A governments military create war and brainwash the people the war is just when it never is. Dismantle the military in every country on this Earth and there will be no wars. Creation and not destruction is what the world needs and armies are not needed. If governments weren’t corrupt there would be no need for any governments armed forces.

    Good on you lee.

    …………………………………………..

    22 Abdelilah Boukili

    June 11, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    I like this:

    “War has always been a dreadful event to the weak party despite the pretence of courage. Soldiers are the first to pay for it with their lives. No soldier is ready to die gratuitously. No army likes to have its soldier die. The death of just one soldier in a war can shake the whole nation. It’s not like any other death. His death is for a whole country. The bigger is the number of casualties, the bigger is the grief of the nation. In the USA, there is an opposition to the war in Iraq because of the number of soldiers killed there. The USA has never suffered such a large number of deaths since the Vietnam War. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>…

    “As long as soldiers fight and die for a justified cause, their death should be a great honour. It is when they are made to fight a war to serve the interests of just a particular political class or to wage aggression against a weak nation refusing to submit to a strong one that their death becomes futile.”

    But think of this: Can some one consciously tell me how many civilians have died in Iraq since the coalition of the willing went blindly to wage war in that country?.

    IN MY VIEW, THERE IS NO WAR THAT IS JUST.

  229. 229 David Bonet
    June 12, 2008 at 11:53

    I live in a violent country whose government is always making campaigns for peace and having people wear T-shirts that read I AM FOR PEACE and other similar messages. I think it would be preposterous that this same country expect that I would throw my life away in a war.

  230. 230 steve
    June 12, 2008 at 12:59

    Pangolin:

    “In Iraq and Afghanistan our soldiers face enemies who had no interest, intention, or ability to attack the US or it’s citizens prior to Sept. 11th, 2001. The people who attacked us that day were from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates. So we go off and attack Iraq and Afghanistan?Sure some Al Qaida were trained there but they also had flight training in Florida. Should we attack Florida too?

    The fools that think attacking Iraq deters Saudi terrorists really need to go back to logic 101 for a refresher.

    US and “Coalition” soldiers and mercenaries who die in the current war have earned Darwin Awards, not honor.”

    Um, al qaeda trained in Afghanistan, and they were based in Afghanistan. You might want to check your facts. And you should be ashamed of your last comment. Absolutely ashamed of it.

  231. 231 David
    June 12, 2008 at 14:10

    10 Lee Roy Sanders, Jr.

    June 11, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Is it the greatest honour to die for your country?

    HELL NO!

    A governments military create war and brainwash the people the war is just when it never is. Dismantle the military in every country on this Earth and there will be no wars. Creation and not destruction is what the world needs and armies are not needed. If governments weren’t corrupt there would be no need for any governments armed forces.

    Good on you lee.

    …………………………………………..

    22 Abdelilah Boukili

    June 11, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    I like this:

    “War has always been a dreadful event to the weak party despite the pretence of courage. Soldiers are the first to pay for it with their lives. No soldier is ready to die gratuitously. No army likes to have its soldier die. The death of just one soldier in a war can shake the whole nation. It’s not like any other death. His death is for a whole country. The bigger is the number of casualties, the bigger is the grief of the nation. In the USA, there is an opposition to the war in Iraq because of the number of soldiers killed there. The USA has never suffered such a large number of deaths since the Vietnam War. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>…

    “As long as soldiers fight and die for a justified cause, their death should be a great honour. It is when they are made to fight a war to serve the interests of just a particular political class or to wage aggression against a weak nation refusing to submit to a strong one that their death becomes futile.”

    But think of this: Can some one consciously tell me how many civilians have died in Iraq since the coalition of the willing went blindly to wage war in that country?.

    IN MY VIEW, THERE IS NO WAR THAT IS JUST.

    …………………………………………..

    62 Abdelilah Boukili

    June 11, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    “There is a military joke. A young soldier was stranding next to his general. Suddenly a general from the enemy side was moving towards them. The soldier tried to shoot the general when his general told him, “Stop! Generals don’t shoot at one another.”

    When there is a war, it is rare that high ranking officers die in the same proportion as low ranking soldiers who should be at the front. Generals are lucky as they must have survived the wars they took part in. In their current positions they give their orders from remote and secure areas through modern communication systems.

    It is still the dream of the American army to invent machines that can make wars by being remotely controlled by satellite. If that happens, the future wars will be a sort of video games and the notion of dying for honour will be a matter of the past. Only machines will be at the front.

    But still it is wrong to make wars because of its great cost in human lives and property. It is still a dream that Man can use his intelligence to “invent” tactics for peace. But as there is still literatures and movies glorifying past and imaginary wars, wars will still capture the imagination of many. For many soldiers fighting wars is their raison-d’être. As such, it is still debatable if dying in a war is for honour or just the consequence of mad decisions resulting from the inability to find reasonable peaceful solutions”

    What a truth this is Abdelilah.

    I have never known a President’s son/doughter or a General,s son dying fighting an unjust war or in any war. Why?

  232. June 12, 2008 at 14:28

    Ok, I am back on today and I don’t know if anyone is still engaging on this one but I want to respond to several things so here we go with several posts. And by the way, I would be very interested in continuing these conversations in a more direct way if anyone’s interested – my email address is

  233. 233 David
    June 12, 2008 at 14:31

    I fear for my children and grant children’s future. The world has never been this terrifying

  234. June 12, 2008 at 14:47

    First to Steve –

    Your first question – “didn’t God write the bible?” Again you are sort of assuming I am a literalist. I believe that the bible is essentially a narrative which is the story of the Creator and the created. It’s a messy story. Actually it’s not boring at all. I have been re-reading the old testament for the first time in years recently and find the stories pretty fascinating. But I don’t believe that God wrote the Bible. I believe people in relationship with God wrote the Bible, and their humanity and foibles made there way in. I am probably an apostate to many for saying this, but I think it is an imperfect book because it was written by imperfect people.
    Your second question – “How can the virgin birth not matter? It completely matters, if it’s NOT true then Jesus cannot be the son of God, but rather the son of Joseph and Mary, completely disproving that he was divine.” It is not of fundamental importance to me, because the story is a spiritual one which makes the physical particulars less important. What I mean is that God chose to establish an empathetic interface with human beings to restore a troubled relationship. God chose to do this in the person of Jesus Christ. The question of whether he accomplished it via a mystical sperm, or via a spiritual intervention into natural sexual reproduction does not bother me. Again, I don’t think there is any way to prove OR disprove the divinity of Christ. I don’t presume to try.

    Your next question about the likelihood of Christ being the son of God – Yes! of course it is wildly unlikely! If it were likely it wouldn’t be especially remarkable. We hold it as the most unlikely and undescribable events (I won’t say “in history” because it is not a matter of historical record)

    Your last paragraph – First, I don’t think Christ himself ever makes the claim to have been the product of a virgin birth. The gospel writers include that part. It is a tremendously narrow statement to position modern people as wise or smart and people in times past as “idiots.” Technological and scientific advancements and wisdom about life, truth, human interaction are two very different strands. One is about knowledge which can increase exponentially into infinity but it will never save us from our own weaknesses and vices. Only truth, beauty, wisdom and other intangible qualities can do that. We do not have any leg-up on ancient peoples in this area in my opinion.

    Can you clarify the bit about people drilling holes in heads? I’m not sure what you are referring to. But in any case, your question is about blind faith and trust in words. Here again, you are running with the assumption that I or maybe all who call themselves followers of Christ are literalists who hold the Bible up as the be-all-end-all for their faith. This is not so for me. I have experienced God in various ways, and in fact the Bible is one of the lesser of these ways. I take issue with Christians who are bible obsessed and in fact I have coined a term for it – Bibolatry. I think it is damaging, fear-based, small-minded, and perhaps even leads to the kind of religious violence that inspires you to attack my faith in such a broad and presumptive manner.

  235. June 12, 2008 at 14:58

    In 1915 my Father lied about his age (he was seventeen) to join the British Forces and went to fight in France. His heart was full of country-love. His Mother’s heart was in her mouth. By the end of it he was so disillusioned, seeing his contemporaries die in their thousands; later he went to see the film ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ and had to leave the cinema in tears.

    I was born in 1937 and the Second World War was the screen-saver of my childhood.

    In the first Gulf War my five sons were just the age to be called up (in England) – the scenario that had always terrified me. More British casualties in that war resulted from American Friendly Fire than from combat. Did that count as an honourable death? Fortunately the government did not resort to conscription.

    I brought my sons up with this advice: It is OK and honourable to be a Conscientious Objector.

    It takes eighteen years to raise a soldier and seconds to snuff him out. I echo all those bloggers who pointed out the futility of this war and let us never forget the thousands of Iraqis who have died through no fault of their own. Where is the honour in any of that? When did a politician behind his desk die honourably for his country?

    The sooner the world’s young people refuse to fight, the better for all mankind..

  236. 236 steve
    June 12, 2008 at 15:02

    @ eileen

    being afraid of getting killed is not being a “consciencous objector”. If you’re going to get into the friendly fire thing, read up on the Cap Arcona, where the British sank a german ship filled with holocaust survivors and allied POWS, killing thousands. Worst naval disaster in history.

  237. June 12, 2008 at 15:11

    @Tino

    Tino, I have to first apologize. I didn’t get to clarify a typo in my note to you which completely misconstrued my meaning. i quoted you as saying that WAR is something you don’t critize. I meant to say “faith.” Sorry about that confusion.

    I agree with you that faith is impossible to prove, but it is not therefore impossibleto discuss. You say it has no place in the real world, and if by the real world you mean legislation and other government activities I agree. I mentioned before that the maintenance of strict separation of church and state is vital to a good democracy that will protect the rights and freedoms of atheists, agnostics, and beleivers of all stripes. The conflation of faith and power has always been a dangerous and corruptable combination. The temptation to wield power either corrupts the church, or the temptation to manipulate the faithful (again about power) corrupts the government.

    You said, “But you would never believe these things if you were not indoctrinated as a child. I mean come on, do you not demand rational proof for everything else you come to believe in life? The only reason religion still exists is because parents force it upon children at a young age. People demand proof for every single thing in the entire world – except God.” That is a very narrow assumption that everyone who believes something only believes it because they were indoctrinated as a child. My parents were extremely open and allowed me to find my own path. It was a meandering one that lead me, entirely of my own volition and after my own seeking and intellectual consideration, to where I am today. Obviously we are very different kinds of people in the way that we view the world and reality. I do not demand empirical proof for everything. My friends, my wife, my family tell me that they love me and I choose to believe them, ususually from the subtle and intangible clues that this is true not based on any proof. My approach with God is the same, the clues, the hints, the intuition are far more important the a physical proof. I think the most valuable religious belief and expressions come from a place that is absolutely the opposite of what you describe – something forced on children. That is of little value. But you are quite wrong in saying that it only exists because of this forcible transmission. There are many of us who have experienced quite the opposite.

    You said, “They dont manipulate anything. They take a literal interpretation of religion, huge difference. There has to be a problem with the faith itself for the extremists to also be a problem.” This is not true. If you would sit down and read the bible from front to back (and the Quran I would imagine, though I have not read it) you could interpret vastly different agendas and mandates. The words of Christ are quite a bit simpler and produced less mixed messages. I’m not even sure what “a literal interpretation of religion” means. If you are referring to the bible, then I agree with you. Those who attempt a fully literal interpretation of the bible (which in my opinion is not even possible because it produces too many contradictions) can be dangerous as a result. But there is selective use and manipulation required. Because if they simply interpreted it literally they would run into problems when Christ commands us to not only love our neighbor but our enemy as well.

    “no country is above criticism but religion is generally taken to be. It is considered ‘offensive’ to make comments less harsh than the ones you people dish out towards the US, for example.” I still don’t know where you base this notion that there is a social taboo on criticizing religion. I hear it all the time, and not just on the WHYS blog. Maybe you live in a very different place with different rules, but he circles I travel in don’t hesitate to criticize away.

    I can’t really respond to your comments about Islam because I don’t know enough to speak intelligently on the matter and I don’t want to pit my faith against another, as that is precisely the problem you are apparently concerned with.

    “Most certainly some portions were literal, and some were metaphor, and parable.”

    “And who gets to decide. More importantly, how do they know? Talking to God? Give me a break. The only reason Christianity is better than Islam today is because people finally decided to cut certain parts out and ignore them – with no real reason (but thankfully they did, time to cut the rest).” Again you and Steve are stuck on talking about literalists because they are the clear and easy target for your rage. As I said before, my faith is relational and experiential as much as it is based on a tradition which includes texts such as the bible. As far as who gets to decide? Well I’m not Catholic and I don’t believe in a “supreme earthly authority” such as the pope. So, yes that leaves us with many questions, many grey areas and many disagreements amongst ourselves. But that is hardly different than any other group of people anywhere, working to do anything. Even scientists frequently don’t agree on things that ARE empirically provable, so I don’t understand why you would ridicule Christians because they can’t agree or figure out who gets to decide the ultimate truth, etc. There is no such thing as “cutting the rest.” No one has “cut” anything, different people choose to focus more on certain elements, or to see certain elements as relics that are less relevant because they were contextual in a different time.

  238. June 12, 2008 at 15:20

    Colleen D,

    thank you for your analogy, I think it is apt. I find it frustrating that religion’s attackers like Steve and Tino are not terribly willing to recognize that religions are systems of thought in the same way that communism or the U.S.’s early vision of democracy (based heavily on Scottish enlightenment philosophists, many of whom were more humanist than anything else) are systems of thought. People who chose to dogmatically and ferociously defend these ideas and ideals often eventually lose perspective and become violent. Whether they are 11th Century Crusaders or Osama Bin Laden or Stalin or Mao. It is an unfair simplification to refuse to recognize the parallels.

  239. 239 Shirley
    June 12, 2008 at 16:21

    Steve, have you ben able to find a situation in which Keith did not value life? You know that he bases his pro-peace principles on his religion, right?

    Hello, Viola
    I objected to Bob’s statement because he advocated having “bombers flying over their territory to ensure they do not attack us again.” As I said on June 11, 2008 at 7:00 pm, “The problem is that they did not attack us in the first place. There were no Iraqis on those planes. While Afghanistan provided a location for al Qaeda jihadist training camps, their average citizens had nothing to do with 9-11.” In America’s quest to attack those who attacked us, we are ignoring those who attacked us and attacking innocent civilians while leaving wide open the borders of the countries that we attack for the entry of various kinds of terrorists and extremists: those who want to kill people from other sects, those who want to rid an area of a foreign occupation, and those who want to attack Americans. If, as you suggest, “
    Muslim people in the middle east clearly face the rest of the world as one entity
    ,” then our attacks on civilians in Muslim lands would be justified. The fact remains, however, that Muslims in the Middle East are not a united front in sentiment or mentality against the rest of the world. The “us vs them” argument that is spewed so often on Faux News is a fairy tale.

  240. 240 steve
    June 12, 2008 at 16:27

    @ Shirley

    He said he would tell those killed over religion that religion was still worthwhile, despite those people’s lives got ended due to someone’s belief in the fictional deity. My point is saying that life is more important than anyone’s beliefs. And if you think beliefs are more important than life, then your priorities are wrong. So long as religion is used by some, even if it’s one person on earth, to kill, or to hate, then it needs to be eliminated until people can be mature enough to handle it.

  241. 241 Tino
    June 12, 2008 at 16:48

    @ Keith

    “So, yes that leaves us with many questions, many grey areas and many disagreements amongst ourselves. But that is hardly different than any other group of people anywhere, working to do anything. Even scientists frequently don’t agree on things that ARE empirically provable, so I don’t understand why you would ridicule Christians because they can’t agree or figure out who gets to decide the ultimate truth, etc.”

    Scientists disagree before things are conclusively proven. Religious people disagree on things that are unprovable by default. You guys simply pick and choose which parts of your religion to believe – based on nothing concrete or rational. What a ridiculous situation. I mean religion will denounce any scientific fact that stands against it but stand behind any that ‘proves’ it. Is that not strange? Virgin birth – science is wrong. Attempts to date shroud etc – if it had actually turned out true they would be like SEE WE ARE RIGHT. Makes no sense.

    “I still don’t know where you base this notion that there is a social taboo on criticizing religion.”

    Most religious criticism is followed by: I find that offensive and that pretty much ends it in the public sphere.

    “Those who attempt a fully literal interpretation of the bible (which in my opinion is not even possible because it produces too many contradictions)”

    How is this not a problem? So you get to arbitrarily decide which parts are right? Makes no sense.

    “My parents were extremely open and allowed me to find my own path.”

    So they did not raise you in any religion whatsoever? No church, temple, mosques, etc? I for one find that hard to believe. If someone was born, and raised to ~18 with NO religion, but received the same education we get nowadays I think you would be hard pressed to convince him there is an all powerful, all knowing, 100% benevolent god in the sky watching his every move. Then tell him if you disobey this god you will burn in hell for all eternity. Also, explain to him that the god sent himself down to earth – born through a virgin – and that this man died and was resurrected for our original sin of eating a piece of fruit. Try not to be offended when he laughs in your face – unless you think he will somehow believe such a ridiculously impossible story. Also, why was god so active in the past but now he is nowhere to be found? Cannot be getting old or tired, obviously, so why?

    “You say it has no place in the real world, and if by the real world you mean legislation and other government activities I agree.”

    Yeah to clarify – I mean anywhere in public. Keep it at home/place of worship.

    “There is no such thing as “cutting the rest.” No one has “cut” anything, different people choose to focus more on certain elements, or to see certain elements as relics that are less relevant because they were contextual in a different time.”

    So you believe, to some degree that:

    # The worship of God must remain pure, uninfluenced by neighbouring cultures and their ‘idolatrous’ religious practices. The death penalty is prescribed for conversion from Yahwism and for proselytisation.
    # The death penalty is also prescribed for males who are guilty of all of the following: disobeying their parents, profligacy and drunkenness.
    #An order for parents to take a stubborn and rebellious son before the town elders to be stoned.

    Deuteronomy pretty much set the stage for the Inquisition. Since nothing gets ‘cut’ as you say then you must still agree with those principles to a degree. The only reason Christianity is not as out of control as Islam today is because they reformed themselves and no longer regard such passages as the teachings of Christ.

  242. 242 VictorK
    June 12, 2008 at 17:15

    @Shirley: I think Viola is correct. The notions of Umma, Dar al- Islam, Dar al-Harb, Dar al-Kufr, Dar al-Ahd, and Dar al-Hudna all point to a coherent ‘them and us’ view of the world that Muslim scholars have developed and articulated over the centuries. Jihad – the military, bloody, murdering kind that is, and not the modern, contemplative ‘inner struggle’ that some Muslims try to plam off on us – only makes sense on the basis that the unbelievers must be conquered by Muslims (as commanded by the Koran).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dar_al-Islam#Dar_al-Islam

    Americans and other Westerners have – out of pure altruism since there’s no oil in Somalia, Bosnia or Kosovo, and the oil in Kuwait was handed right back to the Kuwaitis – acted on several occasions to aid Muslims, including protecting them from our nominal co-religionists. Muslims have NEVER acted and will never act to protect non-Muslims from Muslims (millions of Sudanese Christians and animists were slaughtered over several decades by an Islamic fundamentalist government without any of Sudan’s Muslim neighbours or any Muslims anywhere in the world batting an eyelid or expressing the slightest concern).

    Here in Britain many young Muslims openly state that they would never join the British army because it might at some point be involved in a war with a Muslim country. The merits of that war are never an issue, just the fact that they will not fight against fellow Muslims, however wicked and depraved (e.g. Saddam or the Sudanese regime). It’s quite possibly the case that more British Muslims have volunteered to fight for the Taliban and the Iraqi insurgency than have joined the British army. Pure Muslim solidarity, regardless of issues of morality, right and decency.

    Re 9-11 and the origin of the attackers: is it your view, then, that the US would have been justified in attacking Saudi Arabia?

  243. June 12, 2008 at 17:41

    @Tino,

    Once again, I find myself on WHYS trying to deal peacably with people who have a vicious sarcastic and spiteful attitude towards me though we have never shaken one another’s hands, looked into one another’s eyes and had a decent shot at truly understanding each other. I am a person, and every person that holds religious beliefs is a person. We are not a monolith that is represented by “religion.” That is so incredibly reductionist to speak about what “religion” does as if it is some easily quantifiable thing. It seems as if the only way you are able to dialogue on this issue is to use someone such as myself as a strawman who can represent your broad generalization of people of faith. Unfortunately, at every turn you’ll find your assumptions challenged because it is so far from being as simple as you and your arguments would have it be.

    You said, “I mean religion will denounce any scientific fact that stands against it but stand behind any that ‘proves’ it. Is that not strange?” What religion, whose religion? You would presume that my particular faith operates this way? I don’t presume to know what you believe. How could I? My mode of thought and belief does not denounce any scientific fact that calls things into question. I prefer to examine things carefully and thoughtfully and then either come to a conclusion or decide that the matter is inconclusive.

    You said – “Most religious criticism is followed by: I find that offensive and that pretty much ends it in the public sphere.” Examples? Evidence? That’s what you are all about, but this statement is vague and unsupported. I do not find it to be true in my context, and I am curious to understand what in your context brings you to this conclusion.

    You said – “How is this not a problem? So you get to arbitrarily decide which parts are right? Makes no sense.” I am not surprised that it makes no sense TO YOU, can you allow that there is anything in the universe which may not make sense to you but legitimately does to someone else? The thing is I am ok with contradictions – with allowing them to exist and to continue working at resolving the disharmony the create instead of allowing the apparent contradictions to discount everything I believe.

    You said – “So they did not raise you in any religion whatsoever? No church, temple, mosques, etc? I for one find that hard to believe. If someone was born, and raised to ~18 with NO religion, but received the same education we get nowadays I think you would be hard pressed to convince him there is an all powerful, all knowing, 100% benevolent god in the sky watching his every move. Then tell him if you disobey this god you will burn in hell for all eternity. Also, explain to him that the god sent himself down to earth – born through a virgin – and that this man died and was resurrected for our original sin of eating a piece of fruit. Try not to be offended when he laughs in your face – unless you think he will somehow believe such a ridiculously impossible story. Also, why was god so active in the past but now he is nowhere to be found? Cannot be getting old or tired, obviously, so why?”

    First of all, your thoughts are bordering on incoherent here – you are combining several different assaults/complaints or whatever you’d like to call them. I will try to pick them apart and answer your objections. First of all, yes I was raised in the church but was encouraged to challenge and question so that if I one day chose to believe the same thing, I would have ownership of it. However, whether or not you find it hard to believe, I personally know people – intelligent scholarly people, who were raised as atheists but came to be convinced of the validity of the gospel. So, that is possible. Finally, you spun into a random scattershot overview of YOUR understanding of some Christian theologies. You are assuming that I subscribe to all of them. For example, #1 I do not believe in hell. I’m still thinking about that one. #2 I don’t believe in the Augustinian/Calvinist concept of original sin. #3 I have state earlier that the miraculous particulars of the Christian narrative are less important to me than the truth that the greater story tells. I believe more or less in the virgin birth, but it wouldn’t matter to me if it were somehow proven to be not historically true. #4 Why is God less “active?” That also, is a theological question. I am not going to bother to give you several explanations to choose from because you hold contempt for any of them. Suffice it to say that among Christians there is a wide variety of answers, and it is not a question that concerns me, or that I have a strong opinion about so there’s no point in trying to argue it with you. So, Tino, please stop assuming you know what I or anyone believes and I will attempt the same courtesy with you.

    Next, to your summaries of random strict laws from the old testament – What in any of my statements in this conversation would lead you to think that I adhere to old testament law? Again, the question of what in the bible is of immediate literal value is a theological one. My answer would be that the bible tells part of the story of God and people, and it is an unfolding revelation. Those laws were given to maintain order in a very different and much more barbaric time. Again, you are informing me of what I believe when you say, “you MUST still agree with those principles to some degree” I don’t appreciate you inferring what I must or must not agree with in my own faith, but to answer the assumption (questions are a bit more useful), there are things that were in those laws that made practical sense – respecting your parents, practicing good hygiene, etc…some don’t make much sense and in most cases the harsh penalties don’t make sense. I oppose the death penalty by the way, as I believe Jesus would.

    The inquisition was a godless abomination, since you brought it up. So was Stalin’s mass murders. One was twisted religion, one was another twisted ideology.

  244. 244 steve
    June 12, 2008 at 17:51

    @ Keith

    The inquisition was done by the church, in God’s name, so how was it Godless? Becuase you think it’s wrong?

    This is my exact problem with religion. Becuase you say someone “isn’t a real christian” passing off something religious people do as “oh, they don’t count, they aren’t real whatevers” it just cheapens life. how many people will killed or forcibly converted or expelled during the inquisition due to religion? how many?

    Again, if I had a choice, if I had to be killed, I would rather be killed for my watch than someone kill me because they think God wants them to kill me. At least there is a rational basis for wanting my watch.

  245. June 12, 2008 at 18:28

    steve, you asked, “The inquisition was done by the church, in God’s name, so how was it Godless? Becuase you think it’s wrong?”

    No, because there are absolutes involved when it comes to right and wrong. So wrong is wrong. It doesn’t matter who does or doesn’t think it’s wrong it is. If a committed Atheist/humanist goes around murdering handicapped people because of some perverse attempt to push forward darwinian evolution and move to a better humanity, does that impugn you or any other atheist? No, it’s a wrong act. It may have some theoretical connection to the study and theory of evolution and the survival of the fittest, but that doesn’t mean that all evolutionists should be discounted because of those actions.

    The inquisition was a series of wrong acts based on perverse reasoning that was done in the name of the church. I think communism has some great ideas too, but not everything done in the name of communism has been acceptable or good. If people do bad and hurtful things in the name of God, then they are mistaken about the reality and Character of God. I am sorry if you feel that is some sort of copout, but I think it is a very reasonable explanation.

  246. 246 Michael in Portland
    June 12, 2008 at 19:57

    When I was in U.S. Marine Corps “boot camp” my group was asked to stand up if we were willing to die for our country. Of course everyone stood up. We were all severely critixed and called a series of negative names. It was pointed out to us that the goal was NOT to die for your country but to have the other solider die for their country.

    When I left the U.S. Marine Corps I gave away all of my military gear. I swore that the only way I could be back in uniform a large hostile military force would need to be landing on either the West and/or East Coast of America.

    After reading the many comments I am well pleased that my decision not to continue in military service unless a large hostile military force was actually attacking America has been affirmed. Unfortunately, there are far too many American citizens for whom its simply not worth my risking life and certainly not to die protecting. One of the reasons America is on the decline is due to far too many citizens who cannot or will not venture beyond their own narrow views or needs. If its not about them or impacts someone to whom they are connected, its not worth it. How sad for America and them.

    People who have such high nevative feelings toward ALL law enforcement are the first to call for help. No sane person wants war or to go to war. But sometimes given the nature of relationships between countries leaders act in such a way as to lead their countries to war. Whether such leaders are right can only be determined after the fact by the citizens, history, and the world. Sadly, by the time this decision is rendered many people will have died.

    I salute anyone who darn a military uniform for whatever reason. They deserve our respect, support, and our honoring of them. The question really is whether YOU are worth the sacrifices they made. I think not.

  247. 247 Tino
    June 12, 2008 at 20:49

    “does that impugn you or any other atheist?”

    There is no ‘atheist’ religion Keith, so of course it could not. No atheists subscribe to a set of beliefs unlike religion – Christians must believe in Christ for example. Not the same at all.

    “I don’t appreciate you inferring what I must or must not agree with in my own faith”

    In regards to: “you MUST still agree with those principles to some degree”

    Yet you said: ““There is no such thing as “cutting the rest.” No one has “cut” anything, different people choose to focus more on certain elements, or to see certain elements as relics that are less relevant because they were contextual in a different time.””

    So if you do not cut anything, you must by default believe everything. I can see that you are alright with contradictions, since they pop up in your own arguments. I was inferring nothing.

    “The inquisition was a godless abomination”

    Yet they did nothing but follow the Bible, they merely ‘focus more on certain elements’ as you say. What makes them any less Christian than you? Beginning to see the problem here? Contradictions are fine in your head, I do not care if you wish to obfuscate things in your own head but the stuff you are talking about directly leads to others’ deaths in the real world. You just gave legitimacy to every single ‘extremist’ by saying there is no right way to interpret the Bible. This is a HUGE problem.

    “However, whether or not you find it hard to believe, I personally know people – intelligent scholarly people, who were raised as atheists but came to be convinced of the validity of the gospel.”

    Are you truly being honest here? You know intelligent people who were raised – to the age of 18 – without any exposure to religion? I personally do not know even one single person. Even when one parent is atheist (ex-girlfriend’s dad was, mom was not) the children tend to be raised with religion. Even if they do not go to church almost everyone is exposed through family etc.

    “Suffice it to say that among Christians there is a wide variety of answers”

    Exactly – no one can agree on anything because there is not even a grain of truth, actual indisputable truth, to be found anywhere.

  248. June 12, 2008 at 21:35

    @Steve

    Conscientious Objection is not a question of being afraid to die. In WWI COs were chained to cartwheels and left in range of the enemy until they died in the crossfire. Their bravery was not in question.

    Conscientious Objection is primarily a refusal to kill other people. Many COs worked as stretcher bearers etc, in at least as much danger as the fighting soldiers, but they refused to kill others.

    I mentioned ‘friendly fire’ as an illustration of the absurdity of dying for one’s country, not to score a point for Britain. In war there are absurd mistakes on every side.

    I don’t wish to diminish in any way the courage of the military. They are acting with great bravery and too many are being killed or wounded in the process. It’s the process that is at fault. This is not a just war by any standard.

  249. 249 viola anderson
    June 13, 2008 at 02:29

    @Shirley:

    Hi. I think it is critically important to view everyone as fellow human beings, first and foremost. To automatically have sympathy for one group (such as the Palestinians) and to automatically believe it is the fault of a second group (the Israelis and the Americans) is, I believe, a grave error. “Automatically” is the key word.

    I truly believe that that is what is happening in the middle east. I also believe that the longer that attitude persists, the more people all over the world are likely to start doing the same thing if they are not already. The justification game has to end . Justification only leads to more of the same deadly conflict.

    I am fully aware that in the middle east most people believe that that is how we in the west feel about the Palestinians (always their fault) and the Israelis (always sympathetic to them). I also know that those people who have a vested interest in continuing the conflict take full advantage of that attitude to garner support.

    I speak of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict because it is almost always or possibly even always cited as the primary reason groups like Hamas exist.

  250. June 13, 2008 at 04:05

    For any man or any woman who may have died for his or her country, he or she would gladly prefer to be alive rather than have bestowed the honour for having died for the country. Presenting the honour by the government of the country is simply recognising some valour, he or she might have done
    No, it is not an honour to die for one’s country, but it is honourable to die for your family a good friend or cause.

  251. June 13, 2008 at 04:50

    This is stupidity of both USA and UK to honours the wars criminal troops. This is 21st Century in which to means of communictions and educations have well enough then why fight each other in all case every nation will be able settle matters depolomatically. Fought NAZI was pure wars gainst evils Hetler and his allies and the wars those killed more than 80 millions life. You are now fighting the nations that even to get water or food is very hard to them. Then how will you honours these criminals that hunting civilans from house to house and mountain to mountain? Above all when blind person lead the blind people the end result is disatster and death.
    The leader who led this wars is pure blind that is why the other blind victims are dying.

  252. June 13, 2008 at 05:02

    If I was an Israeli, I would have no choice but to fight and defend my country, in so doing I am fighting for my family staying alive and Israel’s existance, because the huge arab population and arab countries surrounding Israel, including the big mouth leader of Iran are bent on destroying the small country of Israel.
    It is unfortunate and a shame the Palestinians who want a state of their own are mislead by Hamas to believe they can get everything they want considering the fact that they are suffering terribly for no reason at all. Had it been Russia or China on the borders and not Israel, the Palestinians would not stand a chance in hell of acquiring a state of their own and Iran’s leader would zip up his mouth permanently for sure.
    There is a difference fighting for one’s existance as against being sent to some distant land to fight for some political purpose when one’s home country is in no danger of being destroyed. No thanks I dont need to pursue the honour of dieing for my country for political reasons.

  253. 253 Syed Hasan Turab
    June 13, 2008 at 09:13

    From first killing/death (i.e. fathers Adams two son’s fight & Habil kill the Qabeel) to the last killing/death, each & every socity member feel sorry along with tears, I dont understand any pride factor in dieing for any cause or reason.
    Life is a beautifull choice, may not be wasted for any reason & fake pride, infact pride is in saving a life.
    Knowingly putting your life in danger may be understand sucide attempt, giving your life for a known reason may be considerd sucide, this pride dieing may be classified as late genuis abortion of his/her own choice.

  254. June 13, 2008 at 14:36

    @Tino

    It is sad and frustrating to me that you have such venom toward people you have never met. This medium of a blog conversation reduces our exchange to soundbytes for the most part. If you go back through our conversation you’ll notice that for whatever reason, you and Steve have essentially launched an assault on me and my beliefs because of your obvious rage toward the boogie man you call religion. You have attacked with by the book soundbytes. I am in fact telling the truth, but that doesn’t really matter because you are assuming everything I say is pure bullshit anyway. How can we gain anything from this exchange if you have such clear contempt and derision for things I believe? I have not once made any assumptions about your intellect or powers of reason. I have not ridiculed your way of arriving at what you consider to be truth. I have simply, and I think patiently and with civility, responded to all of your attacks. I am no longer finding this useful. What would be useful is a two way conversation that doesn’t need to be confrontational at the outset. If we were to approach one another on level ground, assuming we may be able to learn something good about the human race, then that would be useful. You obviously just want a strawman to stand in for what you consider to be the ills of religion, and because I am indulging this you are using me as the strawman. I would be happy to have an exchange of ideas and even a debate, but not the way this one is going. If you’d ever like to take it a different route, with a different tone, I will be more than willing to do so. Here’s my email address – saintnarcissus@gmail.com

    thanks,

    Keith

  255. June 14, 2008 at 06:01

    We citizens in the USA have some hard choices ahead of us when we go to vote in the 2008 General Elections. In my post tonight at People Power Granny I discuss many of the numbers associated with the major issues on my radar screen. Let me know what issues get you riled, and vote in my poll.

  256. 256 djim
    June 15, 2008 at 16:44

    it depends on the country -its people and polices-places exist where martyrs are a forgotten agenda .some countres policiesnever allow individuals to prosper thier thoughts about a certain issue -so people talk to please leaders-to praise their madness by speaking for specialinterests thats what makes african leaders in capableof frankly adressing the zimbabwean issue- what are those that die in suh situations termed as? HEROES OR COWARDS!

  257. 257 jay
    June 22, 2008 at 15:34

    I wish every one of you would stop talking and ranting and arguing about whether or not we should be in Iraq right now. Just shut up and listen to Lubna, the Iraqi citizen. You can say all you want that they don’t want us there, and there probably are some that don’t want us there, namely the ones that blow themselves up to kill each other. But if you listen to Lubna, you get the real story, the story that the media is afraid to tell you. Lubna welcomes the Americans. He finds them friendly and kind. He calls them friend.

    There is honor in dying for your country, and there is honor in being willing to die for your country. But I think the greatest honor is being willing to die for someone else, someone you don’t even know.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: