Thursday, March 23, 2017

The parable of military obligation

There was once a man who joined the army. He had been told good things, and had a desire in his heart to serve. He was told that to join the army, he had to sign a contract that would span a considerable amount of time. At the time, that didn't concern him. He thought only of the positive points: serving his country, getting a good paycheck, getting free tuition, and getting a signing bonus.

When he shipped to basic training, he was surprised to find it wasn't as challenging as he expected it to be. While he did get plenty of exercise and training, he couldn't help think that he could have gotten in much better shape if he had taken the same 10 weeks to push himself at home. Almost immediately, he started noticing that while some of the policies in the army made sense, a lot did not. Many were clearly designed for the lowest common denominator, and he felt they slowed him down from what he could otherwise do. Others were clearly wrong. For the first time, he felt a little uncomfortable about having signed a contract. While what he saw in basic didn't repulse him enough to want to quit, it did make him wonder what he had gotten himself into.

After finishing basic training he went to job training school. As he was learning his trade, he kept thinking about better ways to do his job. Every time he tried to do something better than what the manual said, those in authority over him would correct him and tell him to do as he was told. At first, he figured they must know better than he does, as they had rank and he did not. Over time, as he got to know his sergeants better, he realized that they did not know better than he did. In fact, it seemed as if they had stopped thinking for themselves a long time ago. He wondered if there was anything they wouldn't do if they were commanded to do so by their superiors, no matter how wrong it was.

When he finished his job school, he was shipped to the middle east. There, he took part in many missions. As he considered the situation, he realized that what he had been told about the wars was very different than what was actually happening. He was not there to liberate these people, but to conquer him. He saw some of his friends get wounded and some die, and he wondered what they had given their limbs and lives for. He realized that whatever this was, it certainly was not defending his country.

He came home disillusioned and aloof. He found solace in the fact that he hadn't understood what he was getting into when he joined the army. He realized that he couldn't have known that he was being lied to. He realized that those who had signed him up might not have known that they were lying, although he knew some who clearly knew what they were doing was wrong but didn't want to give up their promised retirement, which brought them great comfort. When his contract was up, he rejoiced in his freedom. Never again would he sign away his free will. He refused to willingly reenlist, knowing that while God may be merciful for what he ignorantly did, surely he would not have mercy on him he reenlisted knowing the moral hazards of military service.

He realized that the best way to defend his country was to buy his own rifle, buy his own ammunition, and train his body, mind, and skills to do exactly what he intended.