[July 26, 2019] Edward Kennedy III is a leader in war and peace. He calls out those who FAIL to learn from WAR; those very lessons that falsely allow us to believe that war is brutish and nasty yet teaches us good lessons. Today, he discusses his belief that PEACE teaches false lessons.
Once upon a time, the greatest writer of all time, Leo Tolstoy, wrote that “An arrogant person considers himself perfect. This is the chief harm of arrogance in that it interferes with a person’s main task in life; becoming a better person.” I’m a product of war. My father, my great grandfather, and as far back in my family history known to us; we have produced warriors and are better for it. During one of the fiercest battles I was part of during the Vietnam War, I came to a realization (out of nowhere) that it was the dreadful peace among nations that drove us to this war in Southeast Asia. Prosperity and peace are the mother and father of war. There are lessons to be learned from peace but they are not what you might think.
The first lesson. Arrogance prevails in peace. Combat focuses the mind in a way that only warriors can truly understand. I’ve been in those pre-combat missions that make it clear that many of us will die; some horribly. I’ve rubbed shoulders with friends who lived on a few hours after we decided upon a particular course of action to take against the enemy. War destroys all arrogance; peace encourages it. The most arrogant people are those who suffer the niceties of peace while paying no price.
The second lesson. Emotion rules. During combat, decisions are made carefully. The slightest mistake will get you and your buddies killed. Being close to the right answer and the tactically correct position doesn’t count for much when others are doing their damndest to take you out; usually with automatic weapons. Combat produces a certain level of awareness that tends to drown out emotional decision making. Those that allow their emotions to control them usually die. Peacetime is when emotions are allowed to run its course because there are few consequences. Politicians know this and why they promise the world to you but never deliver.
The third lesson. False compassion is stylish. Don’t you care for the pitiful, downtrodden immigrants? And don’t you feel morally superior to the dirty politicians who would deny benefits to the poor? Yeah, right. In war, we all dig foxholes and fight alongside your buddy who may be from an underprivileged family in the Bronx or rich relatives in the Hamptons. I don’t care and neither do they when someone is trying their best to kill you both. Peace is for those who have the luxury to waste their and your money and time on folks who don’t deserve an unearned slice of bread. No one came up to us during a battle to say, hey fellas, want an easy way out.
The fourth lesson. Hard work is devalued. Do you think you work hard? Try combat for a few hours … or days. For those who’ve been there, they know the utter exhaustion, volatility, horror, and depravity of it all. When in physical combat with the enemy, it seems never to end. There are no breaks, timeouts, do-overs, or “safe spaces.” When in a peaceful setting back home, you can go to the refrig, get a beer and some peanuts and watch a game from the comfort of your couch. Hard work doesn’t count for much and if you do work hard, most people consider you a sucker. They take the same amount of taxes out of your paycheck as the next guy to give your money to those who don’t want to work at all. Peace discourages work; war manifests work.
Next time people implore you to accept “peace” as the most elevated of human endeavors; stop and think. It’s the peace that drives us to war among ourselves and among nations. It’s the peace that pushes us into ordinariness and complacency and to devalue others. Peace is a byproduct of war and we have yet, as a world, learned how to address its real benefits properly and we have also failed to learn our lessons from war that gives us peace.