I’m in the process of reading a very interesting book called “Chosen Soldier”, by Dick Couch. It details the selection process and the initial training that goes into the making of a Green Beret. Green Berets are one of the US Elite Special Forces, and are held in high esteem both within and outside the USA. Make no mistake, these men are highly skilled and highly regarded by anyone with a military background.
Now, I expect you’re wondering why I’m reading this material? What does it have to do with Malmaxa?
Well, I consider myself a student of human nature. I find the motivations people have for doing things often to be of greater interest than the things they do. I look back on my youth when I served in an army I believe was the best in the world at what it did. We were young, patriotic and motivated to defend our country. Before going on a patrol in which I had a premonition of dying, I once wrote a line by Horace in my personal diary. It read “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori”. Like many premonitions it was proven wrong. However that is not the point.
So, what is the point then? Well, put simply, it is that when I entered military service I truly believed that quote – it was the principle motivator for my volunteering for service before my allotted time came. Others I knew dodged the bullet by avoiding or delaying service. Back then, I held them in low esteem. Today, I simply accept that they saw things differently than I saw things. Where I believed I was serving the greater good, they believed otherwise. It saddens me to say that I now believe they were more right than I was.
Perhaps neither of us was right, and neither of us was wrong. We just weren’t on the same team.
Nowadays I am adamantly opposed to war, yet I am even more opposed to injustice. Please do not hold the volunteer servicemen and women of any country in low esteem. They truly do serve their people. The ones deserving of your derision are those in power who are willing to sacrifice the lives of these honorable soldiers in unjust wars. And yes, I firmly believe war is never just.
In case you haven’t already looked up the translation of Horace’s quote, and even if you have, here is mine “Sweet it is, and fitting, for one’s country to die.” In Malmaxa there is conflict. There is a war in which people fight and die. And just like here on this planet we inhabit and treat with no respect, the inhabitants of Malmaxa and do not know or ask why there is war.
If you are drawn to National Service then by all means serve your compatriots with pride and honor. But do not serve blindly without question, while believing yourself to be without blame.