Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
I was listening to another episode of NPR, government funded, actively recruiting women into the military, celebrating combat as glorious service for the Homeland.
Drop everything, including your children if need be, when you hear the call. Your country needs you. Yours is not to reason why, yours is but to do or die. These values start to disseminate as early as elementary school.
I've resigned myself to knowing the US will always be militaristic. The nation was born out of Indian Wars, fought over the protests of the original Philadelphian Quakers, who refused to pay their war taxes to support this short-sighted approach.
Outward war tends to push all the consequences on to future generations. We are those future generations. We reap what they sewed, those followers of Andrew Jackson (a president big on fighting "Indians") and later presidents who took on ill-advised campaigns, especially in Asia.
The brainwashing begins early. US TV programs tend to portray life as violent, gun play is encouraged, and many families just assume that at least a few of the kids will "heed the call" and go to West Point or whatever (like joining a priesthood).
Honoring troops is a way of life. The yellow ribbons made their debut during the Indian Wars as well, but we've seen them ever since, especially now with ISIS and the Taliban as the new Indians. Joining the military is a way to boost self esteem and gain respect.
Military service is also a recognized way for many individuals to circumvent an inherited classism, and so also has a democratizing role in contemporary society. The Britain the US revolted against was heavily classist, based in myths about blue bloods ruling by divine will or something equally silly. The American Dream was all about gaining freedom from the tawdry / ugly classist programming inherited from our Anglophone ancestors.
A poor kid from a poor family may eventually outrank a rich kid from a privileged family, thanks to due diligence and obedience. Minorities, and now women, have seen military service as a ticket to full acceptance by their peers. The American Dream has found expression through the military machine.
However, in accepting that the US inherits so much from ancient Rome and its brain-child, the Norman-conquered British Isles and its global empire (1600-1800), I also need to accept and expect a lot of talented young people will grow disillusioned with the outward warring approach and wish some more intelligent and nuanced path.
Identifying outwardly / publicly as a Friend, while still in the service, may not be what's best for one's career, nor are Meetings necessarily interested in extending membership to active duty soldiers. The need for "undocumented status" will likely increase then. We will have many "closet Friends" including in the top ranks.
Friends have always attracted a goodly number of military veterans. Looking back, they see that militarism was maybe not the best path, going forward, and their example to a younger generation is to establish themselves as genuine Quakers in later adulthood. Vets are often the most effective advocates for the Lamb's War, not fought with outward weapons (more like jihad in that way -- speaking truth to power).
Honorably discharged vets are not expecting to lose any benefits owed them for having joined our Religious Society and so being "out" and public about their membership is not too serious a risk. The active duty Friends are the ones I think about, having to keep their Quakerism more under wraps. We're not a terrorist organization but one of the oldest founding religious sects in the Americas. We're here as needed, to help balance a militaristic, outwardly focused culture of great physical power but often with little wisdom or reason behind its actions. Friends are not afraid to question the powers that be and disobey when necessary. The soldiers who join us will become a stronger fighting force, psychologically, and will in no way be "un-American".