Soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division arrive at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga., Friday, Aug. 22, 2003. Elements of the 3rd Infantry Division, the division’s colors and their commander Maj. Gen. Buford C. Blount III returned the the United States marking the end of the war in Iraq for the division. (AP Photo/ Gerald Weaver)
(Diane Seneca is a “conservative leaning libertarian” college student and aspiring writer from New Jersey.)
We Can Support Ron Paul for President
by Diane Seneca
I recently saw a Facebook status that touched me deeply. A friend of mine shared a poem written by Siegfried Sassoon in 1917;
“Suicide in the Trenches”
I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.
In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.
You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.
This friend is one of the many veterans who support Ron Paul for president. Given that he served overseas as is a combat veteran, the very act of publicly sharing this poem should compel those who have never served to see war from the eyes of a soldier. The act demands an audience, to dismiss it is to do injury to the very people we claim to support. As an American, I love and support our troops; I cannot express my gratitude in words. There are no words that can convey the complexity of emotion I feel in my heart. But, I can show them my gratitude by supporting them. How can all of us express our gratitude and support? We can support the candidate who will bring them home to their families. We can support Ron Paul for president.
The idea of supporting our troops through support of Ron Paul will be rejected by many. After all, his foreign policy is crazy, right? We have been conditioned by the media and the government to believe that patriotism involves supporting our troops in conflict. Here, I will attempt to dismantle that idea, and I hope that you – the reader – will be willing to take the journey with me. I hope, at the very least, to leave the reader with lingering questions to explore; and maybe, in the exploration, a new perspective will be discovered.
There is a simple truth in life that requires no explanation, no teaching, and no learning: humans have an innate desire to be free. The idea was named by John Locke and others during the Enlightenment as “natural law.” But, this is a truth that did not need naming in order to be. As infants, we express the desire for freedom in its purest form as we develop mobility: from lying on our backs, to crawling, to walking. Watch the joy on a child’s face as he or she takes those first steps. Once a child tastes freedom, it is forever on the lips. The “terrible two’s” are just another expression of this innate desire; even at this early stage, we fight for the freedom to explore the world without restriction. Nobody told us about “natural law” or freedom, we intuitively strive for it.
As humans, we have other needs that run counter to individual freedom. We have social needs; the need for human contact, the need for community, the need to belong. We base our very identity on where we fit into this social structure. Who I am, can only be established when I compare my-self to the other. This is also known, and this is the place where we are susceptible to manipulation, where we can be persuaded to support values that are morally objectionable, given that they inhibit our innate need for freedom and oppress the freedom of others. For instance, the idea of patriotism at all costs is morally objectionable when patriotism leads us to defend and support crimes against humanity, crimes we would not commit under any other circumstance, crimes that enslave us to our government.
Patriotism can promote community; it can make us feel good about being a part of something greater than ourselves. We feel love and comfort knowing that we are part of a community with similar values and beliefs. But, patriotism can be perverted into something ugly and cause us to support manufactured community values: values that we are told to embrace.
Under the guise of patriotism, Americans have been indoctrinated to believe that we must support military action without question. As an American, I am “unpatriotic” if I express any dissention in the current policy of imperialism. They cry, “We are not imperialist! We are freeing nations! We are the sole defender of liberty the world over! It is our duty to defend it!” Any question of this mantra lands one in the category of traitor, radical, or lunatic – to name the thing is to put it into being – I am a radical once I am labeled such. The media, the government, the elitist, and the powerful, have assured our complete compliance by labeling those who dissent. We are “out” of the community that is America if we disagree.
Ron Paul has been named – labeled – by those who wish to squash his message. He’s a fringe candidate, an outcast. Anyone who supports him is also thrown into the role of outcast. Why is he being attacked from every angle? What is the message he delivers, and why is it considered an affront to American values? He is the lone voice in the field of presidential candidates who speaks the true message of liberty. What is liberty, if not to “live and let live?” Paul does not believe in pre-emptive military action, he does not believe that our military should be spread around the world fighting wars against countries that have not attacked us.
He sees the folly in supporting military action against a disembodied ideology: how do you fight a war that lies within the hearts and minds of people? With drones and bombs? No, the war of hearts can only be fought with love. The war of minds can only be fought with knowledge. We cannot bomb new belief systems into the hearts and minds of people! His “crazy” foreign policy stance is to protect the rights and liberties of Americans while respecting the rights of others to live as they choose. Some are under the false belief that Paul would not engage in war under any circumstance; this stance has come into existence through labeling Paul as “lunatic.” Paul would not allow an unanswered attack on America; he has vowed to uphold the Constitution and protect our lands. It is lunacy to believe otherwise, but we live in a fishbowl of messages that attack our sensibilities until we accept this false mantra.
Tensions between Iran and the West have become the focus of a global debate. There are competing messages that promote negotiation, sanctions, and/or military action. Some are pushing for military intervention as a pre-emption measure to a nuclear Iran; others do not believe Iran is capable of achieving nuclear status. It is vital that we evaluate these messages; the lives of millions of people are at stake. In order to do so, we must learn to look beyond the messages being conveyed by the media and both political parties. They are fighting for their very existence, an existence that depends upon an ignorant and submissive citizenry. We must examine these messages against what we know is true, intuitively.
Humans want to be free; humans want to belong. When we evaluate the message of pre-emptive war, it is in opposition to our innate desire to be free. We cannot, by sending our military to fight and kill Iranian citizens, be free. Can we belong? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. We can belong to the patriotic mass that supports the government’s militarism. This is how they got us. This is how we accept encroachments on our individual freedoms; if we object – we are out. This is where patriotism is perverted and used to control the masses. The question is, to what type of group do we wish to belong? Is our need for belonging so great that we accept admission to an immoral and unjust group? If we define patriotism by the citizenry, it is a love of country and our fellow citizens.
The government has an entirely different definition; it is loyalty to government – regardless if that government is moral or just. Government is God, and blind faith is required; they know what’s best for us, so just sit down and be quiet – they’ve got it covered. And, oh, you’ll have to hand them some of that much valued freedom; it is the price of patriotism. This should be reason enough to support Ron Paul for president. Paul has a healthy view of patriotism, a view that supports American values as embodied in the Constitution: personal liberty.
Under a Paul presidency, we will not have to support actions that directly insult our innate desire for freedom. Under a Paul presidency, we will not be asked to support a perverted patriotic stance that calls upon our sons and daughters; brothers and sisters; mothers and fathers to sacrifice their lives in order to spread “liberty” through blood and bombs.
His “isolationism” is merely an expression of the truth of individual freedom. This stance has been labeled radical, crazy – but, how can we justify support of denying others freedom? How free is the soldier stationed in the hills of Afghanistan? Should he decide to exercise his freedom and walk away, he will be labeled a “deserter,” and once found, he will be incarcerated. The very soldiers who fight for our freedoms are the least free of all. Yes, they volunteered their service; however, if we examine the messages we’ve heard since early childhood, can we say that they truly volunteered? We need only look at the commercials promoting military service, “Be all you can be,” to see that it is more of an indoctrination than an absolutely free act.
The hearts and minds of our troops are sincere; they love America and wish to defend her – at all costs. The problem is that our government is not sincere; politicians lure these good hearted men and women into belief that their service defends “liberty,” when our government is using their service to enslave. Citizens are enslaved to the tax burden it requires to support these wars. We have also been enslaved by legislation under the guise of protection: the Patriot Act and NDAA.
Paul sees these perversions, and he has vowed to dismantle them. Why is it that Paul has the greatest military support? I can only imagine that nothing opens the eyes more than seeing fellow servicemen and women being blown to bits by IED’s while fighting an undefined war against an invisible enemy: an ideology that lies within the hearts and minds of people. Maybe, they see the injustice of promoting “liberty” through death and destruction. Maybe, they do not want to enter yet another conflict.
Do we really wish to send our troops to Iran? How many dead soldiers will it take to open the eyes of the American citizens? How many dead women and children? We focus so much upon the cost of war in dollars, but what is the human cost? Over six thousand US soldiers have been killed in the Middle East since we began this “War on Terror.” It is time to bring the remaining troops home. It is time to take a look at Paul’s policy and decide; do we support diplomatic negotiations with Iran or do we wish to enter yet another bloody war? There are many who will not be convinced that war should be reactive instead of preventative; we have been conditioned to this stance.
So, I ask – you the reader – consider that there is another point of view. Consider that there are more than just two options with regard to Iran; war or sanctions. Consider that our government has continually lied to us; why should we now believe their findings on Iran? Consider that there are more than two options in government; why do we have a two-party system? Is there any difference between them, how so? Both parties want to grow government, it’s just that they approach it in different ways. Consider that Ron Paul has been attacked by all sides. Why? Is there something in his message that threatens their existence? What happens to the government “body” when liberty expands? Does it expand or shrink? The answer is simple. Government cannot grow when liberty is predominating in society. Paul wishes to starve the beast that the others want to feed. What better way to starve it than to bring our troops home? Under the guise of protection, we have allowed politicians to increase government. We spend billions promoting liberty through force. We have allowed the government far too much power in these times of endless war, where the “world is a battlefield.”
Look closely at the agenda: increasing government through war. Then, look closely at the young soldier who dies for this end and wonder, “The hell where youth and laughter go.”
Maybe, Paul isn’t so crazy, after all.