Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran’s Day

Dear veterans,

Thank you for dying for

                    killing for

                     surviving those wars you fought for me?


Because I think differently on this subject than most Americans, I’m choosing to share my thoughts. Before I get started, though, let me just say that I have veterans and soldiers in my family, and among my friends. I believe they are brave and desire the best for America. It is the system—the US governmental system, the US value system, the US propaganda system (the media)—which I am speaking about, not the soldiers themselves. Please don’t read further if this subject is too sensitive for you. If, however, you’re interested… let me ask a few questions.


Fill in the blank:


Indians value spirituality, therefore their most respected members of society are spiritual gurus. They have a  history of producing spiritual leaders such as Gandhi.

oscar wilde

Irish value literacy, therefore their most respected members of society are writers. They have a history of producing famous authors such as Oscar Wilde.


Austrians value classical art, therefore their most respected members of society are classical musicians and artists. They have a history of producing some of the most beloved musicians such as Mozart.

Americans value _________, therefore their most respected members of society are soldiers. They have a history of entering conflicts around the globe—a conflict per decade in the last century—and winning, or at least not losing.

(Obviously each country has more than one value and more than one type of hero. I venture to say, however, that in America no other group gets as much honoring as veterans and soldiers.)

Most Americans would fill in the _______ with freedom. I’m not saying that’s not the answer. I’m just saying to think carefully before assuming that.

Let me explain.

Many Americans believe theirs is the most free country in the world. This is not based on facts—it’s more based on history, because it WAS the most free country in the world. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still free. But so are many countries these days, some debatably MORE free. Look at these stats, which rate the US as the 19th most free in individual freedoms: or the 9th most free when it comes to economic freedoms:  Why is this distinction important? Because other countries, which are as or more free than the US, do not have strong militaries nor do they enter into wars with the frequency that Americans do.  Countries such as Switzerland and Singapore.

Yet they are free.

And conversely, of course, some countries have very strong militaries (the next strongest after ours is China’s) which are certainly not free.

So in my mind, fighting wars and supporting the military is not equal to valuing freedom.

Especially because, of any value I have, I think freedom is the highest. There is nothing I value more than my freedom. Maybe my family, I suppose. Anyway, freedom—free agency in Mormon lingo—is the most Godlike quality on earth. I just don’t believe that my freedom is bought with human blood on a regular basis. Nor, even more to the point, do I want it to be. I don’t want anyone to kill for me. I don’t even want anyone to die for me. And, what most Americans don’t seem to understand: it’s not necessary for anyone to die or to kill for you. If I became Canadian, or Estonian, or Swedish—no one would be killing or dying for me, and I would still be free.

This is not a statement most Americans are ready to hear, but:

I believe military worship is the single largest problem in America today- therefore, it is the single largest reason why I do not totally identify myself with Americans.

Here are the reasons why I believe military worship is dangerous:

1. The military is causing our financial problems. More precisely, the longest wars in history are causing our economic problems. These wars will continue as long as Americans allow them to. They are drawing Americans into an economic sinkhole.

2. Honoring institutional violence (i.e., killing in the name of the government) is sure to foster local violence. Take a look at America’s school shootings in comparison to other countries. Or its homicide rate. America’s value system says “mess with the best, die like the rest.”

America is a violent country in comparison to other developed countries. I believe this is rooted in its honoring institutional violence in the form of the military, government-sanctioned torture, and the death penalty. Our policies in these subjects would cause outrage, not worshipful respect, in more peaceful countries.

3. War begets more war. Despite the war on drugs, drug use in America has gone up dramatically in the last 25 years. A country which is constantly at war against something eventually turns into that which it wars against.

4. It promotes American superiority. If wars are always justified, and we’re always right, then someone else in the world is wrong. Wrong enough to be killed. More than someone. Millions of someones. And the dead Americans mourn are never foreign dead, only American dead. As someone who has lived among and loved so many different people of so many different backgrounds, this of all ideas is the most strange. Why do we mourn deaths more because they were American? A human is a human is a human.

5. It damages our relationships with other cultures. Many, many other people around the world are dismayed at the US’s foreign policy. For example, on my favorite travel website’s summary of the US it states: Too many closed-minded independent travellers object to American foreign policy…and don't bother with it. Their loss.


I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind with this post. Patriotism in America is so intrinsically tied with the military that I can’t imagine that changing. The only way it will change is if people visit these countries that have more freedom than the US and more peace, to get that vision.

I am proud of my country. I’m not anti-American. It’s a mark of America’s great freedom of thought that I can express my views on this subject, and I don’t take that lightly. However, because I do love my country I fiercely hope that one day people could get that vision…a vision in which America could once again be the most free country in the world, and the most peaceful.


Adespain said...

aahhh, Kalli. Glad to hear from you again. thanks for helping me think.

love ya

Jamie said...

Kalli, thank you for sharing some things that I've been thinking about, but hadn't quite been able to fully put into words. I've never quite understood our country's involvement in so many international conflicts... many of which we put ourselves in the middle of. Unfortunately, I don't think it's going to change... it really is ingrained into the American culture. But, the vision of a free and peaceful world is wonderful. Thank you for putting it so eloquently.

Jamie said...

Hey, I just came across this and wanted to share:

Chain Reaction (
by Kayla McClurg

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.

So when Jesus says, 'Love your enemies,' he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies--or else? The chain reaction of evil--hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars--must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

lachristensen said...

Thanks for posting! It's given me a lot to think about.

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