Wednesday, January 14, 2009
My wife is apolitical. That’s good, I suppose, because it’s not a source of conflict. She’s simply not interested in politics, and I’m passionately interested. We seldom discuss it but when we do, she can offer insights I cannot see. Once in a while, I’ll call her into the room when someone is speaking on television. I’ll ask her to watch him or her for a few minutes and then tell me what she thinks. I’m not so interested in her thoughts on what the person is saying as much as what she thinks of the man or woman as a person. That’s one of the things my wife is good at: getting clues about what people are like. Never having seen the person before, she’ll suggest personality traits he or she possesses which later turn out to be right on the money. I’ve learned to trust my wife’s instincts about these things. She’s seldom wrong.
Today’s politics is tomorrow’s history. I watch what’s happening now and study what’s occurred throughout the ages. I want to understand it all. I never will, of course, but I won’t give up trying.
I’m the one who picks the movies we rent from Netflix and they include many documentaries and historical fiction because I’m a history teacher. War movies and westerns don’t interest her, but sometimes she’ll watch a film made from an historical novel if it shows good character development. During battle scenes, she’ll often comment about how brutal men are, saying things like, “They’re the ones who start wars. Women don’t do that.”
She’s right, of course, but it bothers me to hear it. Sometimes I take it personally as a representative of manhood, especially if I identify with the character who is fighting in whatever film we’re watching. I think, what choice does he have? The guy finds himself living in a certain time and place, and circumstances pull him into conflict. He’s faced with choices ranging from bad to worse and does what he thinks is right, or whatever is the least wrong. Most often, a man uses violence after another man or group of men crowd him in some way or threaten his family, or his community, or his way of life, or his principles, and he’s forced to do brutal things. Even if he was a gentle, sensitive person beforehand, the circumstances he must work through change him.
Those are my rationalizations at least. Men are brutal, or at least capable of brutality if it becomes necessary. Maybe it’s testosterone. Maybe it’s that Y chromosome. Maybe there’s something wrong with us. Maybe. It has to be considered. If we believe we evolved into the kind of men we are, should we be trying to evolve into some other form of male human who isn’t as prone to violence? Or would that go against our nature and precipitate even more problems? I see western culture attempting to shift away from a martial approach to aggression and toward a conciliatory one and it makes me uneasy. My instinct tells me, strongly, that this is not the way to be. We don’t need any more metrosexuals. We need more warriors. We need a citizenry which recognizes that our country needs warriors and values them.
For example, I’m seeing more “War is not the answer” bumper stickers. I’d like to ask drivers of cars adorned thus: “What is the question?” For some questions, war is most definitely the answer. If the question is: What should we do about several million Radical Muslims who want to make the world Muslim and force us all to live under Sharia law? My answer is: Are you kidding? What if they’re dying to kill us the way they did on September 11th? My reaction is: Kick Radical Muslim ass. Don’t stop kicking until they surrender unconditionally. Root them out from wherever they’re hiding and kill them. After London, Madrid, Bali, Mumbai, Gaza, why is anyone still asking the question?
Over Christmas break, I spent time with several young American warriors. They’re former students, sons of friends, and relatives. They know who our enemy is, they know what has to be done, and they’re willing to risk their lives to do it - all for our sake. It troubles me that we’re becoming a country that doesn’t appreciate them enough. A majority of Americans like this just elected a new president who is about to take over as commander-in-chief. He’s a great talker, but talk is cheap. Does he have what it takes to lead these marvelous young men and thousands of others like them? I’m not confident that he does.
Vice president-elect Joe Biden told us Barack Obama will be tested by our enemies in the first six months. I have little doubt about that. Then he said: “[W]e're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right.”
Based on what I’ve heard those two guys say on the campaign trail, I believe him. It hasn’t ever been apparent to me that they’re right, and I don’t really expect that to change, but I’ll wait and see.