Battalion

Battalion: (n) a large body of troops ready for battleDictionary B

Every once in a while I think about my own death.

It makes me cry.

You know why? I start thinking about all the people I know and how devastated they will be with my absence.

It’s very silly.

But you see, the only life that completely matters in my thinking is mine.

I try to be equally as concerned about others. Sometimes I muster some real mourning for their well-being, but nothing on the level of the compassion and care I have for myself.

I suppose I should feel bad about that–but since it’s not going away, and I am certainly not alone, I will choose to guide it by understanding the value of all human life.

When I was sixteen years old, hundreds of young American men were dying in Vietnam every week. We had a death toll number. It wasn’t like the numbers tallied nowadays over mass shootings, earthquakes or explosions. Many of these young fellows had just been in our classrooms, churches and bagging groceries in our supermarkets three months earlier, and now they were returning home draped in flags.

It seemed surreal but became our reality.

We were experiencing battalions of young American males going off to fight in a jungle and coming home dead.

There was a sensitivity that swept the young generation.

It was reflected in the music.

It was being released from our pores as we stood side-by-side, wondering what in the hell could all this mean.

So gradually, we joined together and became battalions of protestors. We went off to a different kind of war. It was a war waged against war, because the war being executed was killing us.

We had a greater awareness. We asked questions like, “Where have all the flowers gone?”–waiting for an intelligent answer.

Nowadays we speak of war in a clinical Ethernet third person. It is something we launch rather than something that strikes back at us, filling up coffins and alarming us to its viciousness.

We have a professional army with people who have made a profession out of arming themselves and going off to wars that have been created by old men who miss John Wayne.

Nowadays our grocery baggers get to go to college without ever feeling the loss of life.

I would not wish the agony of Vietnam and the deaths of friends and loved ones on anyone, but it would be terrific to have battalions of young people who are socially, spiritually and emotionally conscious of our aching world … instead of battalions of soldiers chasing the errors of misguided politicians.

 

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Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix

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