It is an observable oddity of the American society that we sometimes act or behave exactly opposite to what is in our best interests. I know a great many people who act oddly when they are falling in love, but that’s not really a surprise is it? Some people say that a soldier who sacrifices himself for his fellow soldiers has acted oddly, but others understand the selfless sacrifice he made – and should be honored for. What strikes me this week that I’ll write about in this article is how our American society seems to be structuring itself to raise ever more pacifist citizens at a time in our history when we are most in need of warriors.
Why are we more in need of warriors now than in the past? Think about it. Not since the Revolutionary War has our country needed to so aggressively defend itself from an attacking entity. During the Civil War we fought with each other. During WWI, WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War we fought against attacks on our own soil and to assist / defend allies. We were well prepared to do so and had no shortage of manpower. During the Vietnam War we had to institute a draft to maintain the necessary manpower rate and that marks the beginning of a challenge that we face more strongly today than ever before: that of finding men (and women) self-motivated to serve their country in its time of need.
A couple of societal changes have resulted in our country collectively raising an entire generation – now working on two – of pacifists. The first societal change – that I can document but not remember very well – occurred in parallel with the Civil Rights movement of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. That change was the general attitude that could be summarized by the phrase, “Make Love; not war.” Those who were in their teens and early twenties around 1970 are now in the 65+ age range. They have raised a generation of Americans who now have raised a generation of Americans.
When a generation of pacifists in such quantities as were shown in the ‘60s and ‘70s raise a generation of Americans, it’s easy to realize why their children would be pacifists themselves. Pacifists, after all, aren’t going to teach their children to fight… for anything. That generation showed us changes in our general outlook on self-defense, firearms, the security of our homes, personal responsibility for safety and more.
There was a reason that Armories were built near high schools in the ‘40s and ‘50s. Enlisting in the service was both a good option for some graduating teens, an excellent option for drop outs to improve their lives, and an alternative for those who had a less than stable home life to escape. The military presented opportunities some teens may not have had under any other circumstances. The price they paid was their willingness to defend their country. In the ‘40s and ‘50s, the children being raised were given their values by huge numbers of men and women who had worked hard through WWI and had WWII fresh in their memories. The bottom line is that the large majority of Americans raised in the ‘40s and ‘50s were being taught not only that it was okay to stand up for what they believed in, but that it was indeed their patriotic duty to stand up and fight for what was right – including supporting the values of the American way.
It’s important to recognize that the message of those values was delivered in homes and schools from adults to children. In the late ‘50s and into the ‘60s and to the present, a new force reared its ugly head and delivered a constant stream of input into those growing children: television. All of a sudden, some newscaster’s opinion could be repeated several times a day to your children. Outside values – that you may or may not have agreed with – was beamed into your home and absorbed by your children. The generation of Americans who grew to maturity in the late ‘60s and early ’70s was the first generation of Americans to have their values and beliefs heavily influenced by what has become the modern media.
The result – I believe – was a decrease in the number of Americans coming of age with values that motivated them to support their country. In that one generation the American theme seems to have changed from “What can I do for my country?” to “What does my country owe me?” That generation of Americans – the early GenXers – have raised the next generation of Americans – those who are adults today in their ‘20s.
What influences have there been on the formation of this most recent adult generation’s values and beliefs? Hmmm…
Typically today’s young adults – those in their ‘20s – have no concept about Iran taking Americans hostage and holding them for more than a year in the early ‘80s. They weren’t born yet. Many of them do and will have a hard time believing that a country’s president was once nothing more than a common terrorist – and truth be told, he hasn’t changed much. His public statements clearly demonstrate that. They have childish recollections of the First Gulf War when Iraq invaded our ally, Kuwait, and we had to go protect them, running Sadam Hussein back to his own country’s capital. They have clear memories of the attacks of nine-eleven, but they have difficulty connecting it to the attack of December 7, 1941 when America stood up as a united whole and screamed for retaliation against the Japanese. They have recent memories of the Second Gulf War and their memories are almost entirely fed to them by the popular media via satellite feeds and daily print / internet articles.
The other societal change that has occurred is a side affect of the peace movement of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Some members of the generation that reached maturity in those years have grown into positions of responsibility in our government, in our school systems, in our public safety organizations… and they’ve brought their pacifistic views with them. The policies that they’ve developed and enacted often have a pacifist foundation.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that fighting is a solution to everything or that every problem can be solved with violence. However, in my experience, our school systems have been teaching children NEVER to be violent under ANY circumstances. When one child hits another, the struck child is expected to take it and tell a teacher. The child who has been struck is expected to continue to put up with the physical attack / abuse without retaliation or any form of self-defense. Should that attacked child defend himself he then opens himself up to punishment as well. I have HUGE issues with this.
To be honest though, this outlook on NOT responding to violence with violence doesn’t just exist in our schools. For decades if a hijacker took over a plane the plan was that everyone on board would do as they were told and when the plane was on the ground negotiations would occur and special forces used to retake the plane if necessary. Time was always on our side. The attacks of nine-eleven showed us, clear and certain, that we can never allow a hijacker to take over a plane again. Where the assumption once was that the hijacker was using hostages for negotiations, the assumption now has become that the hijackers have every intention of killing everyone on board anyway, so you might as well at least go out fighting. DO SOMETHING.
I keep thinking about Virginia Tech where one young man with two handguns killed 30 people in a single building. 25 more were injured and many more escaped without harm because of the timely actions of the responding police. I know that ONE person fighting against the shooter may not have made a difference, but what if ALL of them did? I’m not criticizing those surviving students in any way. They have my sympathies for what they suffered through and will never forget. However, I DO criticize the system that spent their entire school career teaching them to be willing victims.
Between a popular media structure that always says violence is wrong and a school system that punishes students for defending themselves – forming them into willing victims – we have raised an entire generation of Americans who don’t even consider violent response as an option: not even when it’s what is required to save their own lives, much less the lives of others.
Thankfully we do still have some warrior families in America today. We have the families whose head of household is a veteran service member, or public safety veteran, and they teach their families that it is not only okay to be violent in defense of yourself but that you MUST be violent in defense of yourself. We have some warrior families who are maintaining the values and beliefs that our country was built upon. We don’t go looking for a fight, but if the fight comes to us we’ll for damn sure win it. Backing down was never an option. But here we are today with our entire government leadership arguing about whether or not we still need to be fighting terrorism in the middle east.
“Phased withdrawal” is another way of saying “Quit; run; tuck your tail and head home; give up; admit defeat.” We need to remember that this isn’t a fight WE started. This fight was brought TO us on our shores. We gave warnings and offers for peaceful solution. The enemy thumbed their collective nose at us. WE then did what WE should have done: we hit them back. And we hit them hard. Now that we’ve beaten the bully’s ass on the playground, we’re sticking around to make sure no new bullies show up and that the playground is safe. That is an on-going and eternal duty that we will have to fulfill until such time as others on the playground learn to stand up to the bullies. In the meantime we’ve got elected representatives saying, “Oh, no. The bully has been beaten. Leave the playground. It’s all good.” They’ll keep saying that until the bullies visit us again. When will we learn?
The only true response to a violent attack is an attack of greater violence. The only way to defeat an enemy is to crush him so badly that he never again even considers the thought that attacking might be an alternative to explore. If that means killing him, then so be it. If that means killing hundreds or thousands just like him, then so be it. If we have to kill hundreds of thousands of Muslim extremists to protect our children – the next generation of Americans who had better learn how to fight and why it’s okay to do so NOW – then so be it.
What we absolutely cannot afford to allow is for liberal pacifists to teach the majority of our children that fighting back is always wrong. We can no longer afford to allow our children to be raised as willing victims, afraid to fight back. Being afraid is okay – but functioning through that fear to defend yourself and those close to you is a duty we should all have learned… it’s a duty we should all be teaching. Failing to do so will result – it’s inevitable – will result in another generation of Americans who aren’t willing to fight back; who would rather negotiate and compromise; who would rather lose freedom and liberty rather than risk a bloody nose.
Let me leave you with this quote from one of our forefathers. Make sure that if nothing else, your children know and understand the meaning and implication of this statement:
“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” – Benjamin Franklin
By teaching our children to depend on others to protect them, we remove from them the personal responsibility for their own safety and security. In doing so we take away a precious necessity for them to enjoy liberty – because perpetual dependence on someone else for your safety is not liberty.
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