The world is a substantially less rose tinted place than say, fifty or sixty years ago.
There was an era that you couldn’t go a day without talking about someone noble, seeing them on television or hearing them on the Radio. Churchhill, FDR, Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein. People who made a difference in the world and illuminated the darkness we so frequently find ourselves mired in.
Strangely, the term “hero” is thrown around more than ever these days. What makes it so interesting though is that it’s rarely used to describe a person specifically. We throw it around as a generic term for firefighters, policemen and the military. In an age where Police violence against blacks/minorities has swollen to heinous levels and military atrocities are committed regularly around the world. It is an age where being in the military is the safest it’s ever been, with casualty rates being absurdly low compared to the countries the United States invades. An age where drone strikes frequently alleviate the need to even send anyone in the first place.
It’s also an age where wars aren’t fought to protect our country, or are citizens, but rather our economic interests around the world. I’m not saying that’s unacceptable. Hell, I might argue it could be necessary, but it’s not Heroism. Economics are never heroic.
The vast majority of folks in the military fall into two camps: the ones there for a job and a living. The ones that want a good income and good insurance benefits for their families. The ones that have grown up in a military culture, perhaps following in their parents footsteps.
Then, you have the ones who want the glory. They enlist because they know in America that automatically assigns them the title of “hero”. They wield this in substitution for a personality. Their insecurity drives them to violent outbursts and excessive nationalistic zeal.
I’m sure some are insisting I’m bashing the troops. That I “don’t support” them. This couldn’t be farther from the truth; I’m having enough respect for them to acknowledge the dirty, difficult job they actually do- not the narrative that’s been recited over and over until we all believe it’s true. The military is an essential function of our government but it serves the same function as tariffs or trade negotiations; It shores up our economic interests around the world and reminds other countries of our clout.
Unfortunately, all this jingoism has come at a very heavy cost. All our real heroes are lost in the shadow of our military. They go unrecognized for their deeds as we reward the wrong people. Yet, they keep on looking after us- which is, I suppose what makes them heroes in the first place.