I Would Never Fight For My Country

in Social-issue

I would never fight for my country.  There is no speck of soil, no fabric of flag and no bogus border that is worth shedding blood, taking a life, maiming another human. Such treasonous beliefs speak, for many, of a coward.

You are free to call me such.  I am now older, having seen the bulk of my years pass by, in a country where I can boast of freedoms and rights, privileges and advantages not afforded the majority of this earth.  Yet, I reiterate: I would not fight for my country now, nor would I have done so in my youth. 

Worldwide wars have been fought to claim turf, expand territory and assert proclaimed rights to new boundaries.  Millions have died in defence of a flag, in promotion of a religious cause, to spread a political ideology.  Man has fought and killed neighbours and friends, in the name of supporting another friend, or to pre-empt an anticipated attack or invasion.  Lies have been told, to woo the masses to follow the thrust of attack, to support the cause.  Merely desecrating a flag, insulting a leader or religious icon or denigrating a belief have been justifications for death and legitimized murder.

Yet, I have fought.  One on one, one on many.  I have fought thousands of times, sometimes for sport, sometimes to assist a friend, sometimes in the line of work.  So why would I refuse to fight for my country?

Warfare, in years long ago, was honourable.  There were no incidents of “friendly fire.”  There was always a righteous reason to do battle, made more righteous through victory.  There was no question that there was a moral side, and an immoral one. Gore and hideous wounds and slow painful deaths were remote, removed from our sensibilities.  We knew that communism was wrong, that oppressive colonizers (or rebellious colonies) should be thrust aside (or repressed), that dictators should be punished, that borders should be defended.  No media coverage tainted the purity of our battles.

Modern warfare meets none of the criteria for honour and dignity.  Our own forces commit immoral acts against prisoners of war and, more horrifically, against innocent women and children.  The moral high ground is capitulated, when mercenary aims become apparent.  The bright light of the camera illuminates atrocities initiated by our own allies.  Billions of dollars are redirected from humanitarian needs to fight war.  Politicians engage us in unjust undertakings, feeding us false information to garner our support, operate based on their own biases, and seek ways to line their pockets through unwarranted wars.

Yet, we judge the rest of the world, and find it flawed, according to our standards.  Our response? To force our will upon others, less illuminated than we are.

Public poll upon public poll reveal that we – the vast majority of us citizens – don’t agree with our government’s policies and practices.  Our civilization is corrupted by narcissistic greed, class disparity and corruption.  Those of us north of the 49th parallel look to the USA, and cannot fathom that, a mere forty-five years ago, blacks were considered less than human.  Yet, in our own nation, the residential school fiasco and Indian forced assimilation practices created our own unique world of racist values. Poverty is the hallmark of the disenfranchised – disenfranchised because of policies that denied opportunity for equality to millions.

The world looks to the west as the epitome of opportunity, yet hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens are victimized by crime each year; millions in the USA. Murder is commonplace, and cities crumble as the American dream of home ownership is throttled.  We decry our wasted tax dollar, and demand more services than ever before.  We struggle to climb the socio-economic ladder, trodding on those less fortunate as we climb.

So why would I fight for my country?  I repeat: I would not.

Yet, I am fiercely proud of the society in which I live.  It is not a world of artificial borders and synthetic governments, however.  It is a world of people of every belief, each granted the right to hold those beliefs, in a country where the right to one’s opinion is engrained.  It is a venue where we see our flaws, and struggle, each day, to become better.  It is an environment where we are not only encouraged to be better, but are provided with the opportunity to learn and grow, and contribute to the growth of this planet.  It is a society where the individual matters, but each individual has a duty to care for those around him – the less fortunate and the blessed.  It is a culture that says that we can resent differences, abhor values that we view as unworthy, speak emphatically against ways of life and styles or mannerisms that we reject. Yet, it is a civilization in which we, in our hearts, would not trade away or relinquish the rights of others to look and be different, would not want our cultural diversity diluted, would not allow any of our neighbours to be deprived of choice and freedom, would not want a country where each of us was less than equivalent (yet not precisely equal) to every other citizen.

No, our country is not great.  Our country is not worth fighting for.  It is the people within those artificially immutable boundaries for whom I would fight.  I would fight for their right to choice, for their right to freedom.  I would lay down my life to fight for the right to embrace the world of differences that is our great nation.  No, I would not fight for my country, nor for the flag.  But I would breathe my last breath to defend my friends and neighbours, and their right to not be me, to not think like me, to not agree with me.

My country is not defined by a shoreline, or latitude and longitude.  It is defined by the wonderful collage of Canadians, from every corner of the world.  And it is this country of which I am proud, and would gladly defend.


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Robert F Lee has 57 articles online

Among other interests, Robert Lee is a writer who focuses on ethical considerations in business and living life simply.  He is the author of six books, including The Last Drop of Living, A Minimalist's Guide to Living The High Life On A Low Budget and Wild People I Have Known.  His blogs include http://accountableandresponsible.blogspot.com, findingtheoasis.blogspot.com as well as blogs on minimal living, living in a yurt, harvesting wild plants  and  eco-innovations.

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I Would Never Fight For My Country

This article was published on 2012/03/12
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