Transcendent Values

“Love is blind.”

In our civilian context, this is when people are in love to the point where they disregard their significant other’s flaws and discount any unfavorable occurrences as exceedingly minor aberrations. In the context of war (WAR), this statement fits even more, to a literal degree. Out there, in midst of a firefight, the soldiers’ brotherly love transcends the greatest bounds. After being through so many close calls and euphoric experiences together in a hellish setting, it is impossible not to bond a strong sense of trust. What I admire most about those soldiers is not their capabilities under unbelievable conditions or the fact that they are carrying the brunt of the country’s actual fighting. Rather, it is their value on life and their unwavering commitment to preserve their fellow soldiers—their willingness to sacrifice themselves for their mates. At first, that statement may sound paradoxical and nonsensical. Why would people who value life so much go as far as throwing themselves on a volatile hand grenade? The ultimate catch is, these men value life so much that they cannot bear to let others be harmed if they could help it. It goes beyond valuing your own life, much more selfless. When you value something – something that has no direct benefit to you – to the point where you are willing to sacrifice your well-being for it, that is when you know you have purpose in your life. In the heat of the battle, with shells and bullets flying everywhere, medics sprint around trying to save the lives of their best friends, blind to the dangers associated. As Junger mentioned, people think that the straightforward explanation of “bravery” the soldiers give, “It was just my duty. Anybody else would have done it in the same situation,” is an attempt at being self-effacing. In actuality, this is really how they function; they live to protect their squadmates, their platoonmates, their friends. Loving their brethren so much has made them blind to consequences apart from that which might be a danger to their lives. Every step they take, every decision they make, is done with a measure of forethought, “Will this endanger my squad?” Junger grows into this role quickly, particularly regretting the time when he left a military article of clothing at a meeting with the Afghans. Additionally, their thoughts on the war, in terms of its validity and meaning, are relatively nonexistent. They don’t care very much for the global implications, figuring if someone sent them there to do this intense work at the costs of their lives, then there is good reasoning behind it. And so they do their duty. Without this selflessness, this sense of unity, they would utterly fail. When I used to play football, my coaches used to say that every player was important, even the back-ups. It was not just something to make the worse players feel better (this is football we’re talking about); they were there to practice against the first team, to make them better. Without everyone doing their best, trying to make each other better, coordinating on the field, and selflessly doing their duties,  doing well was out of the question. That is the teamwork element, which is so crucial in team sports and in war (which is pretty much a sport where your team loses if too many people die).

In a circumstance where everything can be so raw and so…animalistic, you wouldn’t expect there to be much idealistic thought at all. But this compassion for each other, regardless of anything else, is completely remarkable. It is why they do their jobs without complaint, with full fervor, and without hesitation. They may be blind, but that is not to say it is entirely a bad thing. It is only bad if we, the civilians left behind, lead them astray. That is to betray their trust, betray their purpose, and betray their very rights. If protecting their comrades-in-arms is their purpose, our purpose is to make sure they are doing that in the right capacities. Otherwise, they will be force to be distracted with the politics behind their fighting, which in turn will undermine their fighting success. At the very least, we owe them that.

As for the e-reader, I am slowly finding some rather useful functions in it, to make it easier to operate. My two big findings are actually pretty obvious, but I tend to overlook the obvious sometimes. First, there is the ability to bookmark the pages, and they are recorded elsewhere for easy access. I knew of the former but never noticed I could find them without having to flip through the entire book. As I said, obvious. Obvious point number two: there is the ability to start at any chapter without flipping through the book! Yes! I think I may have complained about having a lot of trouble finding the starts of chapters and stuff, but this solves that problem completely. Now, if only there was a faster way to flip through pages…

~Wasil

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