We're a little crazy, about science!

Day 137: The reality of war

IwoJima

Fun fact, this is a staged photo. For an even more “fun” fact, you should learn about what happened to these people after the photo was taken and made popular.

Well, 2020 is off to an … interesting start. We have all of Australia burning, Indonesia flooding, and trump starting a war without congressional approval (that last one is a rather large crime fyi). So in typical american fashion, people are starting to fetishize war again. Of course these are the people who have never been to war, so as someone who has some experience on this, let’s talk war. It’s going to get messy so let’s just throw in a CW for combat talk.

Abandon all hope ye who enter here

Last chance to stop reading, seriously.

Combat is an interesting thing. In the US the NRA pushes war propaganda so people buy firearms, “we need to protect ourselves from the government!” This is so, so very stupid. The US government spends so much money developing new and interesting ways to kill you it isn’t even funny. For fucks sake, we have weapons that are so expensive to fire, we don’t use them (see here).

People see war as this glorious battle of masculinity. We’re manly men doing manly, manly things. In a certain regard this is true, but only as much any fantasy is based on truth. War is an ugly, bloody thing and the people who advocate for it should be thrown into the middle of it if they want it so badly.

Combat brings out some of the most creativity and innovation we as humans can muster. We develop new body armor, new combat tactics, new weapons, and the “enemy” comes up with new ways to defeat all of that. For every new way we come up with to protect ourselves in combat, someone comes up with a way to kill us (and vice versa).

Our “enemy” develops new armor plating for their tanks? We develop a round that melts through it and turns the armor into white hot shrapnel that kills everything inside (true story). We are very, very good at killing each other. It’s state sanctioned murder and there is no limit to human creativity when it comes to murdering. I mean IED’s weren’t a big thing until several years into the Iraq war. I would know, I watched it happen in real time and how unprepared we were for the… well let’s call it innovation.

It’s sad to watch the same propaganda being pumped to the masses and a rather vocal subset of them swallowing it up greedily ready to mindlessly regurgitate it at anyone who questions the message. This is the same group of people who would never dream of enlisting, who only fantasize about the thrill of combat. The honor of making it back. The accolades bestowed to those who fought. The status and glory that comes with being called a hero.

The reality of course is much bleeker. Sure some of us come home, but not really. There will always be a part of me that I left behind in the war zone, a restlessness. They always come out at night; the faces, the memories, the sticky mist of blood, the smell. Oh god the smell. It permeates everything, soaks into your pores and never leaves, no matter how many times you try to wash it away or cover it up. A constant reminder of the “glory” of combat.

You want the “status” that comes with it? The hollow line everyone spits at you, “thank you for your service.” Just give me the fucking finger and tell me to screw off. Tell me I should have died. Tell me I should have killed myself when I didn’t die. Tell me that I am a rough and disgusting reminder that there are people who have to fight these wars, real people who live and breathe. Tell me I am a fantasy and like any dark and ugly fantasy, when you are confronted with the reality of it you shy away. You would rather admire me from afar. You would rather visit my gravesite. You would rather tell stories of my combat, but fuck me for living.

Fine, you like combat so much then grow a spine and fight your own war. I was just 18 years old when I enlisted, I was a fucking child. Go enlist, go be a hero. No, it’s easier to sit at your computer and cheer for the senseless death. Let me be crystal fucking clear here. Our deaths, their deaths, it makes no difference, it’s all senseless. It needs to stop, it won’t, but it should.

You want to support the war, then enlist. If you don’t want to enlist then sit down, shut up, and stop supporting something you have no intention in getting involved in. If you really want to thank me for my service, then quit fucking talking and just listen. No one wins in war, no one, NOT ONE SINGLE FUCKING PERSON. War is an ugly thing and it makes ugly things out of the people who are stuck fighting.

I would know, I’m an ugly thing who saw and did even uglier things.

But enough about us, what about you?

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