Regretfully however, war is still played out on the surface of this Planet. Children and babies die from bombs and bullets just like soldiers, and the young men who sign up for a life of adventure, fun and honor, find themselves in places and circumstances they would have never dreamed of.
Let me tell you a little story of two very dear friends of mine, and their point of view. Once it shocked me. Now I get it.
When he was an 18 year old conscript, my friend Frank spent two weeks up in a tree. He was a very good shot was Frank. So good they had him on sniper duty. This meant, if he saw anything or anyone moving through the jungle he would shoot them. He was a good lad and did his duty. He shot them alright. Real, live human beings, with families and friends, he killed them all. They gave him a medal for his work, and for many, many years his medals were displayed in his home in a glass frame on the wall. His brother George had a different experience. He did everything he could to dodge the draft, sailing the world in merchant ships, and he did this quite successfully until his arrest one day when he stopped off in England. By then however the last rumblings of the second world war had gone quiet and he was let off.
Now in their late 70s my friends have had many long years to consider their life experience. Around ten years ago, the medals disappeared from the wall. Frank had a change of opinion about war and killing, and especially about taking money to learn how to use the instruments that inflict death and destruction on strangers.
This is what he thinks about it now. Frank says there is nothing noble about killing another human being. There is nothing heroic about taking 'the king's shilling' as he puts it, for shooting someone or dropping indiscriminate bombs that kill anything and anyone. He says when he was 18 he thought he had no choice. He didn't sign up as young men do today, he was conscripted. He had to go. He was told the 'other side' did terrible things to their prisoners of war, and used this knowledge to make him hate them enough to kill.
Now, as an old man, he feels differently.
Now he says we need to stop seeing young men as heroes for donning fatigues and marching off together to kill or be killed. He says they are not heroes, they are cannon fodder, innocents, somebody's cherished child being set up to be a killer. He says it will never end until we teach our children compassion, and that there is nothing noble about taking a life.
Frank knows the futility and tragedy of war first hand. He was there, and will carry his story to the grave.