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Sunday, 10 January 2010

War part 2

I said in part 1 that I felt that public opinion was moving away from my views but I didn't really back that up.

What I hear more and more often is that soldiers are being called "Our heroes in Afghanistan" and similar things. During Prime Minister's Questions on a Wednesday, the Prime Minister reads out the names of soldiers killed in action over the last week. Usually the leaders of the other parties repeat what has been said, just to get in on the act of looking supportive of the troops. Now we are holding enormous ceremonies in Wootton Bassett to honour our dead soldiers as heroes. People travel from all over the country and it is in all the newspapers.

I cannot emphasise enough that being a soldier does not make a person a hero.

Some of them probably are. Defending our country could make a person a hero, as could behaving honorably on a battlefield and saving someone's life.

But most people go into the army for reasons other than being a hero. It's a lifestyle choice more than anything.
1) Being a soldier is a well paid job for someone leaving school with few qualifications and not much of a career path laid out ahead of them
2) Being a soldier is a well paid job with very few expenses, so soldiers can save a large amount of money from the beginning of their careers, something that most people can't do
3) Being a soldier is a job for someone who wants to be outside, active and stay fit
4) Being a soldier has a lot of camaraderie attached and a great spirit between the soldiers. If you don't have many friends, this could be the place to start.
5) Being a soldier means you can leave a place where you grew up and come back with a reputation. Not all people have the freedom to move around when they want to.
6) The adrenaline of computer games and paintballing is fun. Whether it's more or less fun when the ammo is real and the dangers are greater I don't know because I haven't been there. Nobody who signs up knows what fighting with live ammo will be like, but they can only guess it'll be like paintballing but more intense.

Very few people have "serving the country" as their number one reason for joining the armed forces.

We never have similar ceremonies for our other heroes in society like police, nurses, doctors, immigration officers, social workers, carers. Let's face it, if a bin man died it would affect hundreds of people negatively because he provides a service that serves the country. There are red cross workers on the front line putting themselves in danger all the time to help victims on all sides, yet they are not recognised half as much as the soldiers who have caused the problems by being there.

I find war disgusting. I find that the way we unquestioningly call our soldiers heroes is misguided and the reaction to their death is out of proportion.

At the moment I feel like I am the only one.

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