I have, in my circle of associates, some very well-intentioned people, who , by their good intentions often miss the bigger picture. I feel wholly inadequate at the job of explaining the bigger picture, but here we go.
A very nice lady who attends my church sent me an email that was supposed to be a real tear-jerker and a 'salute' to the military. My particular flavor of church tends to be very patriotic and very supportive of the military in general, so it's no real surprise that she would send this out.
The email begins with a series of pictures of a handsome young man and his cute blond girlfriend. There they are, glowing with happiness.
A few pictures later, he is in unform, wearing his EOD pin. There are shots of him in some dusty corner of the world with fellow EOD guys, looking sternly into the camera. Then there are photos of him laying in a hospital bed, tubes and bandages all over him with no hands and no feet, a casualty of some sort of explosion in that dusty part of the world.
The photo series shifts to shots of him in physical therapy.
The cute blond girlfriend is there, her eyes fixed on him, trying to impart some of her willpower to him as he learns to use his prosthetics. They are both trying so hard to be brave in the face of all this, and from a human perspective, the whole thing is quite touching.
The pictures show various shots of their travels together. He hooks his stubs around her neck and she carries him like a backpack as they go from place to place, still smiling, still trying their best to be brave. They marry, and the pictures show the brave young married couple, carrying on despite the enormous burden of his shattered body.
For this I am supposed to be thankful. I am spposed to be thankful that young men like I used to be are wiling to go to the dusty parts of the world and get their limbs blown off so that I can be free. I am supposed to be grateful that this young man and his pretty blond wife aren't bitter towards what was required of them and what will be required of them for the rest of their lives. I'm just having a hard time swallowing it.
Let me ask you this question, gentle reader; how did this help? I understand that his life is now worse, but how is my life any better because of his sacrifice? What part of my life and what freedoms that remain can I point to and say 'his limbs helped buy that'? I mean if one guy with no limbs makes it good, wouldn't a mountain of men with no limbs make it better? Wouldn't my life be just as good, and his life much better, if he had stayed home? Is that part of the world where he left his arms and legs safer because of what happened? And how would you prove that?
I know what my reaction is supposed to be, per the mindset of the email sender. I am supposed to be grateful. I'm supposed to reflect on the sacrifice made.The emotion I find myslf feeling however, is great sorrow at the pointlessness of it all, and a neccesity to somehow apologize to what the ambitions of misguided and sometimes evil men did to this man's life. But not only do I lack the ability to feel what I'm 'supposed ' to feel over this, I feel most of the time that I lack the words to say to sincere people who just don't see it.