So it's Veterans Day, which means that the US is awash with mostly obligatory tributes to military personnel.
I hate this shit.
I didn't fight for your freedoms. In the six years I was in, I never once defended your right to vote, or to carry a gun, or to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure (that one doesn't really apply anymore, anyway), or any of the other things you enjoy as a citizen of this country. I just didn't. Neither did anyone who went to Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Vietnam. It's all bullshit. It's a fucking lie that we tell ourselves and each other so that we don't have to think about why we send young men and women to serve, suffer, and die for old men's vainglorious ideas and profit margins.
I don't mind honoring sacrifice, but the military doesn't have a monopoly on that, now does it? I also don't mind remembering military dead and wounded. But we do it all wrong. We just fetishize the suffering (like good Catholics, no?) without wondering why it ever happened in the first place. Remembrance and memorial, it would seem, also involve reflection and assessment. Just because someone died or was wounded doesn't automatically validate how he or she came to be in that state. We send our young people overseas to be bored, pull duty, sometimes get shot at, and occasionally get hit. Then we never ask why they're over there in the first fucking place, because doing so, apparently, does them a disservice. What kind of jack shit is that?
A real Veterans/Remembrance Day would involve commitments to cease sacrifices that don't actually, you know, do anything in the name of freedom. Losing your legs so that Chevron can see higher profit margins is not noble. It's a god damned shame. Dying in the service of defense contractors doesn't bestow sainthood on the deceased. It just means that a life got snuffed out for no good reason. Reflexive military worship is a cancer on society. Unscrupulous people use it to justify their actions and avoid any criticism. That shit makes the act of asking why we should send young people to absorb bullets and get blown to pieces into some kind of subversion and/or sedition. How fucking ridiculous is that? Wondering if someone's death was worth the cost doesn't dishonor the person. I don't know how we've confused evaluating the motives and actions of leaders with spitting on corpses, but we have. And until we can untangle those things, we're just well and truly fucked when it comes to international affairs.
So this Veterans Day, take a minute to actually reflect on the acts and deeds of people in uniform. But that involves critical thought instead of blind acceptance of the rightness of our leaders' actions. Honor the dead and care for the living, but don't think that people in uniform today are actually standing between you and tyranny.
There is no nexus to Ultrarunning here. Politically and militarily we run roughshod over the world because we can and we choose to. Our military doesn't protect our fundamental right to run, as many of us might like to imply.