Facebook has become a constant reminder of what dominates the thinking and conversation of some people. That is particularly true for those who harp on the same thing day after day. Over the last six months or so I’ve seen a multitude of posts from a predictable number of “friends” who have gone on and on about how we owe the freedoms we enjoy to our military might, and the fighting men and women who put their lives at risk for us.
I have tremendous respect for the service rendered to our nation by those who serve in the military. It deserves to be honored by more than the occasional parade and a “support our troops” bumper sticker. It certainly deserves to be honored by more than supercilious posts on Facebook. Honesty would be a good place to start, and a good place to begin with honesty would be to acknowledge that much military action has little to do with defending our American freedoms, and more to do with establishing, sustaining and defending American economic and political interests that, however important they may be, do not pose a danger to the American way of life.
A more important step toward honesty would be a closer examination of to whom and to what we owe the freedoms we enjoy. What are those freedoms, and how did they come into being? Never was there an army that conceived of a representative democracy. Never was there a navy that contemplated what the law of the sea might be. In a republic such as ours, the military is an agency of, and subordinate to, something larger and more important, and that is the will of the people as represented through freely elected representatives, within the context of a constitutional framework adjudicated by an independent judiciary. Moreover, it is all underwritten by generations of philosophers, theologians, the press, and a variety of thought and opinion leaders operating in the political arena.
To whom do we owe the freedoms we enjoy? To thinkers, writers, teachers, publishers, and (good grief) politicians acting, as they sometimes do, in the best interest of future generations. To whom do we owe the preservation of our freedoms into the future? To an educated and politically involved electorate. If there is a real threat to the American way of life, it no doubt lies there: an uneducated electorate with little recognition of their ignorance or desire to change.
As for Facebook, I prefer people who harp day after day on kittens, children, and sunsets.