Saturday, May 28, 2016

Memorial Day 2016 - A Challenge

Prophets come in different voices. This Memorial Day Sebastian Junger offers us a challenge.
He spent 15 months living with our troops in a single platoon in one of the most dangerous outposts of the Afghan war. Out of that experience he has told the story in his powerful book, War.  Since that time he has produced two documentaries about our wars there. iHe knows what he is talking about.

Now he has published another book about our veterans coming home called Tribe. And this is where he rises to the level of a prophet. He writes that we at home need to clean up our act for the sake of returning troops. During months of combat, he writes, "soldiers all but ignored differences of race, religion and politics within their platoons." They come back home to a country torn apart. They hear incredible contempt about the rich, the poor, the educated, the foreign-born, the President or the entire U.S. government. These returning troops are surprised to find a war going on at home.

Junger writes that those veterans who have been willing to die for their country are not sure they know how to lived in America 2016.  In today's toxic political climate he says those who come back--many wounded and crippled--look around at a world gone crazy. The writer says this is a prescription for deep despair. No wonder PTSD is epidemic for these veterans coming home. Small wonder the suicide rate among these soldiers particularly is high.

They left a war-torn world where they bonded, where they were a band of brothers and sisters--despite whatever differences they had. They fought side by side for a common cause. Back home--many must wonder what happened. Community--our commonality--seems to have vanished. Those members of the same tribe over there find little ties that bind here at home. Mr.  Junger says that our personal loyalties have shrunk to the size of a teacup. There is little regard for what is collectively ours. We litter. We fudge on our taxes. Medical providers defraud  Medicare. Pay day loans rip-off too many.

Somehow we have forgotten that we are all in the same boat. If we revolt, kill one another off--refuse to work together--the boat is going no where. Maybe this Memorial Day we could stop and think of a multitude of ways we might just lower the temperature and unite our little tribe whoever they are.

--Roger Lovette /

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