I understand this is likely to be a very unpopular post, but I have to be honest. Veterans Day is not a day of celebration, pride, or flag waving to me. This is a day of sadness, regret, and dishonor. And that is not a bad thing.
When I think of my service to my country, I am glad that I served. I am proud to be an American. We live in a world that is dangerous and riddled with violence and I did my job to as best I understood it. I would probably even do it again under certain circumstances. I support my sons decisions to serve, and I pray that will always remember that they serve a broken and hurting world.
But … I am not proud that I am a Veteran. I wish that no one had to serve. Our violent and vengeful natures are proof of our fear, despair and lack of love. I wish that my son did not need to strap on his firearm and don a bulletproof vest each day when he enters his police cruiser.
Last year I explained my feeling about the whole hero thing: You Keep Using That Word Since then I have reflected even more about what really brings honor. Some questions have surfaced I have a hard time answering.
- Are the sailors, soldiers, marines, and airmen I served alongside the most honorable people I can imagine?
- Should taking up arms against other human beings be a source of pride
- Why do we place such high value on our ability to dominate in defense of our values?
- How is it that despite our nation’s military superiority, we cannot achieve peace?
- What does it say about us as a people who no matter how much we evolve as a civilization, we continue to regress back to violence as our measure of strength.
I served our nation for over 12 years. I was indoctrinated into the ways of the brotherhood of undersea warriors. I was enraged by the knowledge that a dirty “Commie” Soviet submarine had passed within our waters and felt the joy of chasing it out again. I slept between nuclear warheads with the capability to devastate large portions of the human race.
I felt the fear and turmoil that surged through me when it occurred to me when during the simulation of a nuclear launch. I with struggled with an anger that began to simmer within as I worked alongside shipmates and people of Kuwait recovering from the atrocities of the Iraqi invasion and subsequent withdrawal.
Five years later, that anger surface on Sept 11th, 2001. I supported our fear driven retaliation. I watched as that fear was covered in nationalistic pride and a resolve for vengeance.
Vengeance is not justice … Vengeance is action driven by fear and hate. I saw that desire for vengeance in the eyes of Kuwaiti children and parents. It is the evident in the desperation of people in our own society caused by perceived or real inequalities. Yes, it is even the same force driving the ISIS conspirators.
I am sad that we have failed to achieve relative peace in our world and that we are a world encompassed by fear.
I regret that I allowed that fear to override my faith and that I could not even effectively love my enemy or even my neighbor.
I find no honor in taking up arms to bring about peace. Although it may protect us for a while and may seem to be the best we can do at this point, I think it is ineffective and frankly the coward’s way.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts.
And I will show you a still more excellent way.
1 Corinthians 12:27-31 ESV
What is that more excellent way?
My son-in-law posted today every veteran signs a blank check. I have to disagree. Each of us signed up With the knowledge that we might die in the line of duty, but that is far from a blank check!
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6-8 ESV
I did not sign up to die for my enemy.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:12-13 ESV
Laying one’s life down is much more honorable and difficult than dying. Each of us can live a life for others and possibly even defeat some fear and hate.
That not excellent way…
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 ESV