What is my place in a country at war? I was against this war starting. Now that it has started, my role is to continue to encourage non violent alternatives to war. I pray that we will win quickly. I pray that the loss of life will be small. I pray that when the war is over we will not be blind to the terrible destruction of this war. Seeing this appalling destruction, I pray that we will be motivated to find ways to live together in peace.During my anti-Vietnam war protester days, my Dad liked to tell me the story of Charles Lindbergh who's sounds eerily similar to many of today's protestors. (You can download the audio clips).
He did not see the conflict as basically a war for democracy or morality. He was skeptical of the ideology and moral righteousness of the British and French. He conceived of morality in international affairs as relative to time, place, circumstances, and power. His approach was, in effect, more understanding of the Germans (without approving of what they did) and more skeptical of the Allies than the conventional view in the United States. Lindbergh saw a divided responsibility for the origins of the European war, rather than an assignment of the total blame to Hitler, Nazi Germany, and the Axis states. He did not view Germany, Britain, and France as implacable foes with irreconcilable differences that could be resolved only by war; he saw them all as parts of Western civilization. And he conceived of the European war as a fratricdal struggle (like the wars between Athens and Sparta in ancient Greece) that could destroy Western civilization. Conceptions of race were conspicuous in his analyses, as were his concerns about the challenge of Asiatic hordes to the survival of Western civilization. Like later American "realists," Colonel Lindbergh attached great weight to the role of power in international relations and in prevailing definitions of morality.FDR attacked Lindburgh's patriotism but once the War started, Lindburgh --as my Dad fond of telling me-- did everything he could to serve.
Paul Shields writes every so often about Paul Douglas Brigades, --another my Dad told me about-- but what we really need are some Charles Lindbergh brigades.
Duty and Service do count for something and some times its good to put your faith in the American electorate and hope that their elected President Bush; just like FDR, has it right even if you share Linbergh's skepticism, and think the President is taking the world to hell-in-a-hand-basket. You can even do your bit to make sure its a professional service that the job gets done right.
In other words your place has at a time of war has been secured by the sacrifices of others who served before you. You can dissent all you care, but the real question one should ask, is the one JFK asked years ago,
Lindy showed how to answer.
In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility -- I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.