Shades of Contradiction


            I was on my way to a community theater play during a light evening snowstorm a few days ago when I noticed I was several needle widths above empty on my gas guage. I pulled over to fill up and bumped into an old friend who chatted me up before I tore off the receipt and buckled up for a ten mile drive. As I slowly crossed the pavement, I noticed a dark blue bus near the edge of the lot where three army regulars in black boots and desert camouflage fatigues suddenly popped out of an open side door. They looked around nervously as one glanced at his watch before the lights flickered on inside the bus. There stood several fresh faced teenage boys with quiet looks of confusion adjusting their seats and placing their bags. One boy was standing in a dark blue suit and red tie with a face flushed pink from the cold, his sandy blonde hair carefully combed and cut to length. He looked twelve to an old-timer like me, but I soon realized he was a new recruit at a pick up point for basic training.

I thought about the first time I had seen Full Metal Jacket and what an impact it had had on my views about Vietnam. I wondered further about the attitudes of these young men after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m from the West Coast, but currently live in a very red Montana where military service and putting your hand over your heart during the national anthem are up there with breathing and eating. I’ve never gone in a coffee shop where Fox wasn’t streaming from opening to closing, and the primary topic of discussion revolved around “that horrible fascist” who got away with murder in Benghazi. In fact, all things government can produce a ten minute tirade ending in clenched fists and chiseled looks of anger that make the Hulk look like a sweetheart. So there are two things that I’ve found myself really wanting to understand: one, if democracy is the foundation of what we are fighting for in other countries, why is it that supporting government is only “patriotic” when someone with conservative views is in office? And two, if all government is evil, why do conservatives feel compelled to march off at the whim of this same government to fight in places they’ve never heard of? Does government suddenly become moral when making decisions related to violence?



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