So many words have already been written about Ukraine that I wonder at my own audacity in writing more, but there’s a compulsion to this horror that’s hard to resist.
What is it about war? What is it we crave? I suspect that no one has ever lived a day on this planet without a war being waged somewhere. We call it inhuman. We call it inhumane. But it’s one of the most basic human things we do.
I wonder sometimes if we’re cousins to lemmings with our desire to self-destruct. People point to power, to legacies of hate, to other causes that are all true in their own ways. But, deeper, there’s something else and I’m not sure what it is.
Talk to veterans of WWII and some will confess that it was the best time of their lives, if they lived through it. The camaraderie that can only be forged in facing tough times together. While newer wars are fortunately less glamorized than WWII, that camaraderie is still as strong as ever, a clan, a club, a family.
There’s something, too, in the tendency of victims of PTSD to rush towards danger rather than away from it. The thrill, the need for danger, the challenge of surviving odds.
Yet, when we look at the broken soldiers with lung problems or missing limbs or PTSD, when we look at the grieving wives and mothers and fathers of the fallen, deep down we know better. We just ignore it and carry on.
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