Veterans. Who are they? A distant image of a retired soldier. A uniformed family member on his way home from war. A man or woman assigned to duty in a far off land where communications are hard to reach. A father or mother, who missed raising their child. An award winner. An energetic young all-rounder, who went on a mission and returned a philosopher. A person who will smile or cry when they open a christmas or birthday gift from their own homeland, because they can tell that someone packed it with love.
An old faded letter. A spouse or a friend. A heavy heart or a brave heart.
A casket. A memory.
I salute every Veteran in each part of the world because they have to act on orders. A person who donned the uniform to defend National borders, following the orders of their Chief. Only because, a politician said it was necessary. “Ours is not to reason why, Ours is but to do and die.”
Why do we respect the Veterans? Is it because we feel so unsafe in the world that we created, so we want some people to protect us from ‘the enemy?’ We are the same people who end up voting for people in power. They, in turn, have convinced us that they have the know-how and equipment for nation’s protection. We put our faith in the leaders, as well as in the soldiers, and then hope for the best, thinking that our duty is done.
Elections, results, and oaths later, we hear the unexpected. Of inter-nation conflict on sharing of basic natural resources like water, food, and sadly, oil. What happens next is the same old mundane series of events. Further controversies lead to power struggles, disagreements, and maybe even an attack.
Now, it is time for real problem-solving. Hushed meetings, spying, buying information-givers, and execution of Movement Orders to border areas. Soon we hear War Sirens and later, News of War.
With borders re-defined, flags raised higher in our eyes, speeches and patriotic spirits fired-up, we cheer soldiers on our own side of the borders. We justify to ourselves, the urgency to raze to the ground those other lesser humans, the enemy on the other side, people who perceivably caused us trouble, and smoke THEM out of their holes.
While we watch the News of lands razed to nothing and some fill their stores with plenty, soldiers on both sides of the war follow the orders given by the leaders they voted for. They give of themselves to their countries and causes. They go through experiences we want to avoid, on our behalf. In time, they are called Veterans, and medals are awarded based on specific criteria, because we cannot do what they did. Would you consider it as a type of compensation?
So we respect them from a distance. It’s easier? Easier than relating and communicating with the Veterans about their experiences and hardships. We don’t want to hear about their hardships.
We already know!
When we the people who live around them, do not listen to them because “We know better,” or we know they should “Get over it,” or plain respectful, “Silence.” I choose to use the word silence in quotes because we tend to keep quiet when we do not know what to say, or how to empathize, or want any more graphic information. In short, we avoid T.M.I., the classic, Too Much Information.
Our Internet though, is happily suffering from this classic T.M.I.’s A.P.D., Affection of Public Display. Information overload surrounds us everywhere, including our highways, politics, and religious groups, too. Also, those ‘neighbors of a different color.’ Our psychiatrists and counselors get paid for giving and receiving TMI, as do our sales-people and educators. But on a one-to-one basis, face-to-face, we do not accept or even tolerate listening to another’s struggles, or expressions thereof.
A generation later, amazingly, we can handle reading books and watching movies made half a century later with bravado and patriotic pride. We call it History. As if to declare, that distance helps us cope better.
The present system of the way of our world, where we want only fun and positive words in our lives, struggle-free experiences, has indeed increased the number of pockets of isolation, along with levels of insecurities. Will we continue to find security in objects like seat-belts and security cameras, or solace in unnatural products like decorations or toys, and bouquets or greetings to display love?
If we remain focused on advancing technologies as an indicator of social progress; isn’t it only leading to an increased output of commercial products, health issues, and smaller individual nations?
Maybe, just maybe, trends may change if our people can go back to non-competitive mingling and to sharing simple conversation; without price-tags, categorization, labeling people, or justifying reasons. It could re-generate a ‘we humans of the world’ feeling. That in turn, may prompt an increase in empathy, tolerance for differences, and reduced rate of crime; or even sharing the planets’ beautiful people, cultures, and their limited natural resources, across the borders.