Moral Health #2

Conscience In War; Moral Fragmentation

  • War stamps the soul with an indelible imprint, and makes it its own. The soul that once went to war is forever transformed.” – Tick, p.285
    • Cain had his own ‘imprint,’ but it, like the mark that veterans bear, is not for condemnation, but protection.
      • The curse was to wander, which lasted exactly three verses (v.12 = curse, v.14 = settled in Nod)
      • God’s mark on Cain was a physical manifestation of his promise to protect and defend the first murderer.
    • Knowledge of good and evil heightened exponentially in combat, like we’re eating the fruit of the forbidden tree all over again.
      • Combat brings to stark clarity the overwhelming extent of sin, NOT merely in the world, but particularly in oneself.
  • We must be able to call war evil in order for it to be dealt with theologically (evil = not a positive good, sin = active violation of God’s law)
    • War is a limited evil executed with restraint; Just war frameworks depend upon war being called a temporary suspension of peace/ the common good, etc. War is only to restore justice, not for peace.
    •  “Where is God in Iraq/Afghanistan?” The American god of war.
      • Right there pulling the trigger with them; Macho Jesus
      • Absent Without Leave; Derelict Jesus
    • Has god failed his promises to deliver us from the evil of war, failed in promise to protect our lives and those of our battle buddies? Theology says no; God does not fail
      • Both are wrong; God exists despite the presence of evil
  • The soldier does not direct the war, and war must not define the soldier, for “The trigger is always part of the gun, not part of the [person]” (Walzer, p.195)
    • Do not make the mistake of assuming the absence of a draft means that moral complicity rests upon soldiers shoulders
      • Economy drives enlistment. Service not a privilege; it’s never having to even consider service (reaping without sowing)
    • Must distinguish between jus ad bellum (before war) and jus in bello (in war)
      • Jus in bello is “a backdrop against which to set one’s own personal war story, for the [soldier] is not [their] own moral universe” and it “liberates the soldier from a narcissistic retreat into the purely private domain of their own feelings”.  (Mahedy, p.128)
    • In combat, time must be carved out in order to reflect, a solemn time to ask forgiveness and say goodbyes. “Compassion must be elicited consciously in warfare.” (Marlantes, p.77)
      • Rituals, like a liturgy. Burying the enemy dead, do not dishonor. Roman Catholic rite of “Mass for the Dead”

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