© 1997 Andy Foster. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the author.
The video was brutal. It showed young male Marines braced against a wall while their comrades hammered parachuting medals into their chests. Bleeding, in agony, they took it. Why? To be indoctrination into the world of a warrior was the the best expression of Love that they knew. Love was making themselves perfectly disposable for their friends.
The Commandant of the Marine Corp. appeared on television denouncing the practice.
We Americans think we can turn a man into a war machine without changing or traumatizing his person. Nothing could be further from the truth. To train a man to be a soldier (or sailor or airman) means to teach him to kill, directly or indirectly. The wisest person I met during my years in Naval Aviation said to a bunch of us:
"Face it. You're a bunch of professional killers. If you can't handle that, you need to get another line of business."
Eventually, I did; and that was almost exactly why. The death one of my best friends in an aviation accident at sea pushed me to examine my life and made me realize I didn't want the warrior's epitaph on my grave. I really believed in Love, not war or hate. I was flying because I loved it, but I was rationalizing away what it was for.
War, the language of fear, is not, as many of my male friends seem to believe, a natural or necessary part of evolution. It evolves only from ego and rage and is a result of rigidity, lack of communication, compassion, creativity, and mostly a need for control. Today, in this world, we sometimes have no better choice; but too often, we don't look for one.
To support war, we teach our children, especially our male children, that feelings are taboo and a sign of weakness, violence is normal behavior, and that war is glorious and the most ready solution. Count the number of TV programs that don't involve war in a private or public sense. War is killing your neighbor with a handgun as well as killing a country with bombs.
In our politics, our media, and our private lives, we are constantly at war. The War on Drugs, the War on Illiteracy, the War on Poverty, the Border Wars are just a few of the examples. Whenever we want to tackle a sticky problem, we go to "war" on it because war is something we understand and love. It keeps us focused and threatened by the world outside. It puts us on the adrenaline rush. It convinces us, when we are victorious, that we are righteous and in control.
Understanding that, I couldn't help but laugh when the Commandant of the Marines denounced the blood winging. That practice and many like them have existed in the military for decades, if not centuries; and the Marines are not the only service with them. Initiations like those are part of the warrior mentality and cannot truly be separated out. Today, we're trying to be Politically Correct and sensitive to brutality. But why aren't we concerned about it when it's practiced in a way the system approves? What is war but murder sanctioned by the state?
If we want men to be sensitive and loving individuals, we must stop teaching that killing and hurting themselves or others is fun, glorious, and desired. To teach them violence and then expect them to turn it off when they are threatened turns them into machines. Like anyone, they will respond with what they have learned. If we don't want them to respond to us with violence, then we need to teach them something else.experience score apple