Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Growing Up Into War Culture

Growing Up Into War Culture

With the release of the film American Sniper, which chronicles the life and military career of Chris Kyle, an American sniper in the US military, I sat down to think of what are the effects of growing up in what I call "War Culture"? What influence does the constant barrage of pro war and pro military images, songs and the almost mandatory glorification and appreciation that must be bestowed upon those who "serve" have on individuals.
How does the use of militarism and imbued detached emotional conditioning in entertainment lend to this culture?

I think first I need to explain what I see as "War Culture"
War Culture is the constant inoculation of militarism and perpetual war to the people of the world. It is not an isolated subject and is seen in just about every country on earth. It is the conditioning through various means to make war seem as just another aspect of life. It is the systematic conditioning to raise new generations to believe that the only way man has lived is in this perpetual state of alarm or conflict. Through the entertainment industries we see video games, movies and music that revolve around the occupation of the military or its missions, in essence Propaganda. Through the political sphere it is a constant stream of fear manipulation and the misuse of resources for destruction rather than diplomacy. The schools teach the military conquests from their home countries and gloss over the destruction that resulted. Again this is not an isolated occurrence, it happens all over the world.

Those that were born in the US after 2001 have never known a time when the US military was not engaged in a conflict, war, occupation or mission in one or another Middle Eastern country. Those who were born after 2001 may never know of a time when the US military will not have some sort of presence or installation in these countries.

Those that were born in these Middle Eastern countries after 2001 have never known a time when there wasn't a foreign military moving into their homes and communities. They would not know a time when their family were not targets for violence by men from far away. They grow up into a system of seeing this everyday, their family fighting for their own homes and their own way of life and they follow into this mindset. It doesn't take too much of a leap of logic to see that when someone sees this behavior day in and day out from childhood that they would continue on with the cycle later in life.

Then too we can think of the child soldiers from some other countries. Those who have entered this "service" by voluntary means have also been in large part brought up into this War Culture. They have never known a time, most of them, that their fathers were not at war, that their homes have not been threatened or even that their minds not set to these actions by the learned behavior or expressions of their religious leaders.

Kids, in the US especially, are approached early in their lives to consider joining the gears of the war machine. They are fed the scripts and lies of recruiters who have to fill new boots as fast as they fill caskets. By high school age in the US a person is to have been familiarized to the concept of war, used to the blind obedience to authority and have had their heads filled with the idea of protecting freedom by killing whoever their government is fighting with at the moment.

The media and entertainment industries play a major role in this idea. Think about this past year, how many movies were released that were based around military and war themes. Unbroken, Monuments Men, The Boys of Abu Ghriab, Seal Team 8, Jarhead 2,Fort Bliss, Good Kill and many many more. Now what about the gaming industry. In recent years with the rise in military actions around the world the gaming industry has turned into putting out more and more titles that deal with war and militarism. Now there is a lot of debate about the effect the games have on the players, if they turn out to be any more or less violent than those that do not play those types of games. But the theory is still valid, as far as the desensitizing effect it may have. Getting used to shooting at another human, destroying homes businesses, taking orders from authority and doing so unquestionably. Titles like Call of Duty, Destiny, Fallout, Titanfall, all lend to this issue. Again this is still a disputed theory and has not been determined to be viable at all. It is only in mentioning this that I hope to illustrate the tendency of entertainment companies to follow events happening in the world and to bring about some sense of entertaining qualities of war and the military theme to each new generation.

{ Speaking with a friend on this theory as I am writing this he makes a notation that this theory, that violent images from games or movies can have an effect on the minds and responses of individuals, makes the case that if the theory were incorrect there would be no reason to sit your child in front of a television or use and audio program to help them learn certain traits or characteristics. Sesame Street being an example, it is said that the majority of parents feel that by allowing their child to view this show they hope to reinforce good behaviors and learning skills. IF this theory were true in this instance it would be true in the case for picking up violent behavior as well. }

Even before some kids make it to an age that playing these games or watching these movies become an option they are brought into the war culture through their public and private educations. The National Anthem in America is a song of the battle at Fort McHenry in Baltimore MD September 7th 1814. It is a song about battle, of war, glorifying the action and triumph of the American colonies from the invading British troops. This anthem, being recognized as a National Anthem of the US by a law signed on March 3, 1931 by President Herbert Hoover. This being one of the first encounters with the theme of war even on a subconscious level. But this isn't just left to schoolchildren any more, no the national anthem is played at most if not all major sporting events, public ceremonies, political events, funerals, weddings, birthdays, national holiday celebrations and in some areas just because people love to sing a song of war. Many other nation's national anthems depict war themes as well. Many calling for rivers of blood, domination over enemies, revolutions, the firing of weapons to defeat foes and the beating of war drums and superiority of the country in battle.
 The anthem of Algeria is a example of this: "We swear by the lightning that destroys, By the streams of generous blood being shed" 
"When we spoke, none listened to us, So we have taken the noise of gunpowder as our rhythm, And the sound of machine guns as our melody"
For more on Anthems used as the drums of war see here.

Then there are those parents that raise their children with an expectation of joining the military. With parents that wish to ship you off to either kill someone or die trying to do that, who needs enemies? Often heard are the pro war people, "I would be so proud if my son/daughter joined the military." Under this implication they are under a false impression that 1. the military fights for freedom or security and 2. that their career choice is somehow a service to the country. 

That being said, what do we see from the culture of war?

Being raised and seeing the media portray the figures and images of war, without the true nature of destruction that it leaves in it's wake has left us, the world, desensitized to it all. The ability to be entertained by the use of violence has disconnected us from the real tragedy of the brutality of war. The constant barrage of subdued tones of Patriotism means serving in the military, the threats of violence from those the defend the institution of war and of the military's that wage them to those who seek peace through diplomacy and free and open trade. The boogie men created by institutions of government that turn into the very real monsters they were meant to look like. All of these things have added to a culture that sees war as the health of the state, that sees heroism in being able to kill another human being, that sees patriotism and nationalism as the wanton release of all personal morals or beliefs in the name of orders.

The Glorification of soldiers and the illogical justification for actions that in any other setting are immoral and unjust is a hard barrier to break. Any attempt is usually met with a onslaught of defenders and a constant stream of physical violence and threats of violence, again a product of the culture. The almost mandatory subjection of oneself to a life of praise and glory being bestowed upon those who "serve".

*I used quotation marks when mentioning the word serve in relation to military members. This is because the false sense that they are serving a nation, a country, the citizens of a certain land. Their service is to the government imposed over that land and those people. It is true that the paycheck does come from the citizens but not by voluntary means, not as a signal of worth or seen value but it is coerced and forced from them by government mandate.

War begets War it is said. And it would be correct given the history of the world SO FAR. But we do have the capability to end the cycle of perpetual wars, unneeded killing and dying, destruction and conquest. I refuse to glorify or propagate a system of despicable behavior under a twisted logic. Hero's are not those that go along with immoral orders, they do not revel in killing other human beings, they do not use a justification cooked up by some other person or entity to inflict destruction and death.

The Real State of the Union

The Real State of the Union

President Obama gave his 7th State of the Union speech  last night, January 21st 2015. After hearing these speeches year after year, president after president I have come to see them not as projections of what the actual state of the nation is, but rather an advertisement for things the president thinks he did well,
“ ...more of our people are insured than ever before...”

Well yeah, they kind of have to be, remember you made them criminals if they didn’t buy insurance.

Not mentioned in last nights remarks is the reality of the real state of the union.

What about the National Debt?
The Outstanding Public Debt as of 21 Jan 2015 at 06:03:20 PM GMT is:
$ 1 8 , 0 9 2 , 4 1 9 , 3 8 6 , 5 7 5 . 9 4
The estimated population of the United States is 319,850,520
so each citizen's share of this debt is $56,565.23.
The National Debt has continued to increase an average of
$2.40 billion per day since September 30, 2012!

Or maybe the amount of new regulations?

A little over 75,000 pages of new burdensome and restrictive regulations were imposed on US businesses. Each one a hinderance to the growth and expansion of businesses.

No mention of the prison population.
More than 1.57 million inmates sat behind bars in federal, state, and county prisons and jails around the country as of December 31, 2013. Many from victimless crimes.

We could go on with the rising tax rates, poverty levels, inflation, wasteful spending, the drug war, real wars and their destructive nature, the rate of returning soldiers committing suicide, the rate of bankruptcy and homelessness, the NSA…. And so on and so on.

The State of the Union has become nothing more than promises of future action and commercialization of past actions, not to give a statistical breakdown of how the nation is functioning.

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