A little Nathan Hale…in you.

It has been remarked that “in times of war the national suicide rate goes down”, referring to the fact that the crazies are getting slaughtered by the enemy, rather than by themselves (if you’re asking who remarked this and when, take another look at the title of this post.)  Currently however, that trend has been further ridiculed by the fact that suicide rates for active-duty soldiers will probably exceed the national rate this year, an excess that has not occured in this country since Vietnam.

I would not necessarily consider myself a pacifist – I have too much of a temper – but I’m not a big fan of war.  I rather prefer countries to play nice with each other.  I would especially prefer not to be involved in a war that causes Americans to kill themselves, whether because of the severe conditions of the war itself, or from a lack of adequate support back home and between tours of duty.  It seriously makes me wonder what we’re doing as a nation.  What kind of warrior spends the time and money necessary to make a beautiful sword and then beats its keen blade against the ground until it breaks?  If you need to dig a hole, use a shovel.  What kind of military planners thought it would be a good idea to send soldiers back to war repeatedly, tearing them away from home and family, and not give additional financial and emotional support for that stress?  Let’s think a little here.

I dislike inefficiency.  I dislike rash or illogical action (perhaps more so because I am occasionally prone to both).  I dislike manipulative policy.  Current military practice seems to be all three.  Though the Veteran’s Association is attempting to address the issues facing active-duty personnel, I wish we had the ability to anticipate such problems more ably.  It would give me a little more confidence in the type of war my country is fighting.  Like Uncle Victor says, for very different reasons, let’s get back to “the kind of war this whole country can support.”

Where’s Burma?

Not long ago, the U.S. was outraged about the lack of aid  and quick relief to one of the more vibrant regions of our country.  I’m talking, of course, about Katrina and New Orleans.  Rebuilding is still going on there, and though the eager life of the city is revitalizing itself, there is till work to be done.  Of course, one of the things that made the area unique was its diverse and strong community, which remains, despite natural disaster.  What happens when such a disaster strikes and area that is not so visible, that is not so well known, or that is already recovering from previous injury or adapting to increasing need?

We have one example in Myanmar, where the strong arm of the military junta has oppressed various groups of people (such as the Karen) and regions for decades.  Now that oppression has been exacerbated by tornadoes in the delta region, killing tens of thousands and causing flooding, bridge damage, and crop loss.  People are being left to rot on the ground, as fuel is limited – the living need everything they can get to survive.  What’s more, due to the junta’s fear of international criticism, they aren’t allowing any aid workers or volunteers into the country.  They have only let one plane bearing food in, though arrangements are being made for others.  Worse, as flooding continues, even aid within the country is having a hard time reaching those in need.

While the international community has been very outspoken against the actions of the junta, now could be the perfect opportunity for reconciliation.  Let’s help people.  Let’s help people, regardless of what country they’re in, or who they’re governed by, or how.  Let’s make a start at differentiating between control and genocide, between political expediency and political necessity.  Let’s at least try and move ina  different direction.