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Rose Capparelli

Sing to me of the man, muse, the man of twists and turns driven time and again off course once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy - The opening line of The Odyssey by Homer

Each soldier ever sent to war begins his own personal odyssey. Driven by the call of a nation or by the desire for adventure, many will be searching to find themselves in the shattered ruins of a life forever altered. Some may never find their way home, while others might cope and assimilate quickly after they return from war. The process can begin well before they go off to fight or it might take forty-five years for a person to start. 1 As this soldier tells his tale in a blog created for war heroes, we get a firsthand insight of what war means to those in the face of it: A fall on an icy incline did enough damage to warrant rotator cuff surgery. A single visit to the military hospital near me in Germany made me realize that I wasnt a priority there, and nor should I be. As I left the hospital, passing by the ER, I watched a crowd of medical personnel gather around a bus that had just arrived. They began offloading stretchers, one after another, filled with the wounded warriors whod arrived at Ramstein Air Base just a few hours before on C-17s. I examined their faces, and after twenty years of service, many looked like little boys to me. With IVs hovering above blanketed bodies, the stretchers moved briskly past me toward surgeons and doctors waiting to treat the physical wounds of war. After watching the scene unfold before me, returning to the U.S. for surgery seemed like a modest inconvenience.(Moad II) War trumps all - motives for war To go to war, or not to go, that is the question. The consequences of all other decisions combined pale in comparison. Deciding to engage a nation in war can simply not be trumped by anything. Nothing else comes close. The reasons for war are many; human nature, population moderation, and promoting the health of the biosphere and saving the human race from extinction. (Caldwell) But what is war? In simple terms, war is organized killing Organized killing is done best by a disciplined, professional army. But war also empowers those with a predilection for murder. Petty gangsters for example, what they did were no different. They still pillaged, looted, tortured, raped, and killed. While we mourn our own dead we are curiously indifferent about those we kill. Thus killing is done in our name, killing that concerns us little, while those who kill our own are seen as having crawled out of the deepest recesses of the earth, lacking our own humanity and goodness. Our dead. Their dead. They are not the same. Our dead matter, theirs do not. (Hedges )

Moad II, James A. "The Poet and the Wounded Warriors Return." WLA Blog . WLA Blog War, Literature & the Arts: An International Journal of the Humanities, 17 2011. Web. Web. 13 Dec. 2012. <http://wlajournal.com/blog/?p=162>.

Rose Capparelli Wars have been waged as long as human beings have been around, beginning as clashes or feuds between neighboring families or tribes, and evolving to large-scale conflicts between large nations and civilizations. Human motivation and behavior is complex, and the reasons for war are correspondingly many. The objectives of war are the achievement of social, political, economic and religious goals. The enduring attraction of war is this: Even with its destruction and carnage it can give us what we long for in life. It can give us purpose, meaning, a reason for living...And war is an enticing elixir. It gives us resolve, a cause. It allows us to be noble. And those who have the least meaning in their lives...are all susceptible to war's appeal. It is part of war's perversity that we lionize those who make great warriors and excuse their excesses in the name of self-defense. (Hedges ) To employ young people for war, teach them to perform hideous acts, and then pretend the events of war will not trigger their breaking the code of conduct to which we claim they aspire, is naive. Its a failure to understand the human condition. And, even more, its shameful to punish them as criminals.2 Wars impact on Society War can have many different impacts on societies. It depends very much on what the society is like before the war, what the war is about, how popular the war is, whether that particular country wins or loses the war, and many other variables. Consider the expense of war. The cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, for example, has surpassed a trillion dollars US. Not only has this been spent on war, but it's important to note that it consequently hasn't been spent on social programs, education, infrastructure, the arts, or anything else. The Myth of War Look not to religion and mythology and warped versions of history to find the roots of these conflicts, but to the warlords who dominated. The Psychology of War differentiates between "mythic reality" and "sensory reality" in wartime.' In sensory reality we see events for what they are. Most of those who are thrust into combat soon find it impossible to maintain the mythic perception of war. The potency of myth is that it allows us to make sense of mayhem and violent death. It gives a justification to what is often nothing more than gross human cruelty and stupidity.3

In closing, most of us willingly accept war as long as we can fold it into a belief system that paints the ensuing suffering as necessary for a higher good, for human beings seeks not only happiness but also meaning. And tragically war is sometimes the most powerful way in human society to achieve meaning. But war is a god, as the ancient Greeks and Romans knew, and its worship demands human sacrifice. We urge young men to war, making the slaughter they are asked to carry out as a rite of passage. Once we sign on for war's crusade, once we see ourselves on the side of the angels, once we embrace a theological or ideological belief system that defines itself as the embodiment of goodness and light, it is only a matter of how we will carry out the murderous act.

Lundberg, Gwen. "The effects of war on the nation's warriors." Seattle Times 19 01 2012, Letters to the Editor. Print. <http://seattletimes.com/html/northwestvoices/2017283518_warlet20.html>.
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Hedges, Chris. War is a force that gives us meaning. Anchor Books, 2002. Print. <http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/War_Peace/War_Gives_Meaning.html>.