WQ #21: Is Being Honorable Better Than Happiness?

Being happy — really happy — is always a better choice than pretty much anything else. Words like honorable always leave me wondering what exactly it means? By whose standards? I have my own standards of what’s honorable and what’s not. I’m pretty sure that there has never in my life been a choice between doing the right thing and happiness. I make wrong choices, but they are not involved with honor. Just choices. Good ones, bad ones, middle-of-the-road choices — but none involved honor, though many involved stupidity, usually mine.

It seems that war is the one place where an ordinary guy can become instantly honorable. Maybe that’s why before we finish fighting one war, we are busily preparing for the next.

I cannot remember a time in my life when there wasn’t a war going on somewhere. Either the U.S. was in the war, supporting the war, or at least selling arms to one or both sides. These days, we don’t have to formally declare wars. We just fight because we’re mad about something — aliens, the price of things from overseas, intrusion of someone else’s ships into “our” waters.

I might not even mind as much if the fighting and killing gained something positive and improved the world. In the end, little is gained. Each war leads to another and another and another.

“Shoot the dictator and prevent the war? But the dictator is merely the tip of the whole festering boil of social pus from which dictators emerge; shoot one, and there’ll be another one along in a minute. Shoot him too? Why not shoot everyone and invade Poland? In fifty years’, thirty years’, ten years’ time the world will be very nearly back on its old course. History always has a great weight of inertia.”Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies

The pen is mightier than the sword if the sword is very short, and the pen is very sharp.Terry Pratchett

Every year when Memorial Day rolls around, I feel obliged to support the glory of war. Except I hate war. I hate the death, the terrible mental things it does to those who fight them — and how little reward they get for putting their lives on the line. With a few exceptions, war is a huge butcher’s bill with a big body count. A grisly experience in which many young men are slaughtered for a principle in which they might or might not believe. In reality, wars are fought for profit, oil, land, power, or sheer bloody mindedness.

So I honor those who fought, but despair of an end to war. There will always be a way to force young and honorable men to fight. They are not less honorable because I think war is stupid, pointless, and accomplishes nothing. The sacrifice of those who fight is real and heartbreaking. The cause is not.

Many wars are fought because one country or another decided they needed and wanted a war. World War I was that kind of war and World War II was its sequel. I’m not even sure exactly what the last bunch of wars was about and what, if anything, was accomplished.

Now that their long war was over, they could get on with the proper concern of all civilised nations, which is to prepare for the next one. — Terry Pratchett

Categories: Anecdote, Holidays, Quotation, War and battles, You Tube

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