HEROES AND VILLAINS

 
Once at night Catillian squared the fight
And she was right in the rain of the bullets
That eventually brought her down
But she’s still dancing in the night
Unafraid of what a dude’ll do in a town
Full of heroes and villains
Heroes and villains Just see what you’ve done
Heroes and villains Just see what you’ve done
 
The Beach Boys
 
Yes, heroes and villains. White hats and black hats. Good and Evil. The perfect dichotomy.
 
Yet do they exist separately on different planes, on different levels of understanding, on different levels of appreciation?
 
These questions began addling my brain while watching CBS Sunday Morning. The segment that stimulated my brain waves in this way was one on Dakota Meyer, the young marine who received the Congressional Medal of Honor earlier this year.
 
His story is very interesting. He’s a small town Kentucky boy who enlisted in the Marines right after graduating from high school in 2006. Eventually he ended up in Afghanistan.
 
On September 8, 2009  he learned of four comrades who had been ambushed and he went looking for them where insurgents were known to operate. He found all four dead and made efforts to retrieve their bodies. He also helped other troops to safety and with the aid of fellow Marines and friendly Afghanis the mission was completed.
 
In the 60 Minutes piece Meyer spoke of his rage at the enemy, particularly one he came face-to-face with before killing him.
 
60 Minutes also highlighted some of what he has experienced since his return home. Meyer’s father told of Dakota’s paranoia, checking the house locks frequently and never being without a gun, usually more than one, at his side, including in bed at night.
 
His behavior was also agressive and he often exhibited unfocused anger.
 
Dakota himself related how one day, after drinking heavily, he went to an area alone and took out a pistol, put it to his head, and pulled the trigger. The click was “the loudest sound I’d ever heard” is the way he described it. There was no bullet in the chamber.
 
That failure to kill himself snapped him out of his suicidal mood and he sought help for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
 
To his credit he is making forward strides with his life as he speaks to public groups about his life and almost ending it. He also has started a fund that provides scholarships for the children of fallen Marines and far in excess of $1,000,000 has been raised to date.
 
This is altogether a remarkable story and Dakota Meyer can legitimately be called a hero.
 
But this is about heroes and villains so, you ask, who are the villains?
 
Are they the Afghan enemy?
 
Are they the demons Meyer conjured in his mind that provoked the attempted suicide?
 
I have two answers for you.
 
One is that the villains are those who make and have made wars throughout the ages from which we are taught the glories of battle and conquest. That Alexander ruled much of the known world by the time he was twenty-four years old is expressed with total admiration. That blood shed in the service to one’s country is good and honorable. That killing as many Spartans or Redcoats or Canaanites or Huns or Mongols or Japs or Gooks or Redskins as possible is moral and desirable. That treating the enemy as subhuman is justified.
 
The other villains are the citizens of warring lands who accept and support their nation, state, tribe, religion, counter-revolutionary movement, or ethnic group as superior to all others. They allow themselves to discard rationality and morality and fear and common sense and basic decency in an effort to prove this superiority.
 
These latter villains choose their leaders on the ability to make war, not the fervent desire to make peace.
 
Sure the warmongering of these villains enables heroes such as Dakota Meyer to emerge from the smoke and ruin and corpses. But It also enables even these living heroes to be condemned to a living hell of nightmares and worse.
 
While I applaud Sgt. Dakota Meyer I never want our nation to produce any more Dakota Meyers. We, as well as our sister nations in this world, already have far too many graves, far too many grieving families, and far too many wasted resources to follow these paths any longer.
 
What we do not have far too much of is a sense of shame and realization of our failure to adhere to our humanity when we involve ourselves in these deadly endeavors.
 
PEACE
 
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