“A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
War, war never changes, and it seems the gender that wages it doesn’t either.Up until the 20th Century, females almost never served in their nation’s military. There are of course exceptions, such as Joan of Arc, and other brave women who history has forgotten, but by and large, the battlefield has been a place where men killed men. So my question is, do men love war?
As usual, a disclaimer. This is not a discussion of whether women can or should be in combat, and I make no claims either way. I have never served in the armed forces, and my understanding of war comes only from the shared experiences of friends, historical accounts, and family members. With that out-of-the-way…
Now, I don’t mean to say that war is enjoyable, or fun. My close friends who have served in Afghanistan have assured me otherwise. But is there some primeval force that drives men to combat?
The reasons for a man going to war vary wildly. Valor, honor, glory, for his tribe, a sense of duty, or just because of economic benefit. Sadly separating the propaganda culture from the core human reasons takes a shovel bigger than I have. So if you’ve served, I’d love to hear what motivated you to do so. And then, if you’ve got the time, ask yourself why that motivated you into armed combat.
“It is well that war is so terrible. Lest we should grow too fond of it.” – Robert E. Lee
War is hell, the ugliest face of mankind on its worst day. Death, destruction, rape, torture, humiliation, theft. It greatly offends me that the armed forces do not discuss these things in their numerous advertisements. Though I guess “You’ll probably be messed up for life” isn’t a very good slogan.
This is not to say that war is without its virtues, if you can call them that. In war men become brothers, in ways outsiders can never understand. You must trust your brother with your life everyday, and despite the horrendous circumstances, this is still beautiful.
There is also the feeling of being alive. Perhaps the only way to truly know you have lived, is to experience death. We all do, at least once in our lives, some just learn of its reality sooner than others.
This is to say nothing of the adrenaline, excitement, and fear produced by battle. Something I imagine to be a total system overload, and if you’re the right sort of person, the greatest high (and low) you’ll ever feel. To come back to the “normal” world after that… must be surreal to the maximum.
I don’t know why men fight wars. Maybe they are instinctually trying to make up for their inability to give birth. Its been said that women bring life into the world, and men take it out. Or maybe we have just put the warrior on a pedestal for so long, that we cannot see him anywhere else.
“War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.” – John F. Kennedy
Tell me what you think.
Further reading – http://public.wsu.edu/~hughesc/why_men_love_war.htm