“American Sniper,” the block-busting movie about the experiences of Chris Kyle, a decorated SEAL sniper, debuted on the same day that we celebrated the birth of the Prince of Peace. Americans were treated to something different than the many years of military defeat that they have grown accustomed to in the Middle East. Initial audiences did something fairly rare at the end of the movie. After a short period of reflective silence, they stood and applauded.
The merits of the movie as a work of art are being debated, but the popularity of the message is not. Americans clearly were ready for this movie. They stood and applauded not for the cinematography, the acting, or the directing. It stirred something deep within.
Was it Chris Kyle they were applauding? Perhaps. But far more likely they were attempting to heal a festering wound. Some say that the wound was created by half a century of lost wars. Perhaps. But I think there is more troubling wound. One that is self-inflicted.
Recently another veteran of the war in Iraq, Adam Kokesh, conducted an interview of people who had seen the movie. It’s an interesting interview and you can watch it here. Kokesh is a veteran who returned from his service with a mind full of questions about the morality of the war. He challenges those interviewed to questions about the morality of a soldier’s actions if the war being fought is immoral.
Obviously a handful of people cannot reflect the opinion of a nation. But I think you will agree with me that the thoughts expressed are common among us. And they cause me to wonder if we are a people in love with morality or justice. Forget being in love, do we even understand right and wrong? Are we even capable of critical thinking?
I was reminded of the defense offered by Nazi officers during the Nuremberg Trials—“I was just following orders.” Kokesh challenges the morality of following orders without considering the morality of the order. If the war is wrong, what about the actions of those who volunteer to fight and kill? It flies right over their heads like a stealth bomber, not even on the radar. Identity as an American would seem to trump independent and critical thinking, something Americans are usually claim as a national characteristic and value.
I’m not stating a position for or against the actions of Christ Kyle. Merely making the suggestion that there is something out of whack with our moral compass. Or that we are not able or not willing to think logically. Or all the above.
There are so many other examples of what appears to be a very confused nation. Would it not explain why modern Americans have no meaningful objection to taxation of their income or their property? Do we not see that taxation of a person’s property removes ownership of that property, or that taxation of a persons income does nothing less than reduce us to slaves? No, we don’t. Perhaps we are not opposed as long as we think we are getting as much or more than the other guy!
This confusion is quite apparent in our system of in-justice. Real crime has been turned into vice. Vice has been turned into the new criminal code. Laws criminalize the use of drugs, prostitution, and driving under the influence of alcohol. “Crimes” without a victim, something that is or was the basis of a Western definition of crime—the presence of a victim. No victim, no crime. But, no. Wall Street cronies ally with crooked politicians to control our economy, something for which they should receive serious punishment. Instead, we not only turn a blind eye, but allow taxpayers to be robbed to pay for any losses they incur while pillaging the people. Politicians blatantly lie and are never called to account. Instead, we reelect them. Rioters that destroy businesses are extended the privilege of being the real victims. Not the poor people whose businesses are burned to the ground. Murder and violence have taken a second seat to the thoughts of hate that a person might have had about the victim’s race or sexual life.
And it’s not only in the in-justice system. It is encoded in our ever-increasing social programs. One sixth of Americans receive amounts of money for food that exceed the amounts spent by the average taxpayer for food. Older generations are receiving Medicare and Social Security paid for by generations that will never know such benefits. Our rulers, with our approval, continue to borrow and spend away the lives of those that are not even born. Yet it bothers us very little, to be truthful. As long as we receive our share of the pie. We seem far more concerned with outlawing marriage between certain private parties. Just the way we think our neighbors should be forced to live.
In reality, our people is one of unchecked pride, greed, and lust. We delight in electing politicians that will pass laws that force the rest of the population to live their lives in ways that we think they should. We force our neighbors to educate their children and force employers to pay a dictated rate of reimbursement. We call it fair when we force people to rent or do business with everyone and not whom they desire. We vote for zoos and libraries, paid for mostly by people who never use them. Roads that people who never drive have to pay for. Stadiums that most will never frequent. We are a selfish lot, don’t you think?
Many will protest loudly, “We didn’t vote for the things that we have today!” But we did. Voting casts approval of the system that decides such things. It elevates democracy above truth. I am often told, “If you didn’t vote, you can’t complain.” The opposite is where truth lies. By voting, we give approval to the belief that the majority decision is the best decision. And that we will obey the outcome of the vote. We show our hand when we admit, “I just voted for the lessor of two evils.”
This isn’t what any of us wants to believe. But is it true? After watching the video by Kokesh, do you still wish to have the rule of your land decided by people who cannot even critically think their way through a simple ethical question? I’m not stating that one cannot establish a good defense for war in Iraq. But it is clear that the majority of those interviewed end up basing their conclusion on personal beliefs. Not a higher sense of good and evil, right or wrong. Either they can’t think logically or they are immoral. Or both. Or can we be “partially moral and just” or “just more so than other nations?” And is that even true?
Objections and solutions are no doubt popping up. “We need a better system of education! We need more regulation! We need less regulation! We need to kick out all the bad politicians. If we have the right government, many of these problems can be corrected!” Perhaps. History would argue the opposite. But it reveals where we look to for our solutions. Not to truth and justice. Not to God. But to government. Well, “the right kind” of government, whatever that is. Most would say it is “the sort that happens when my preferred political party is in power.” True?
When I started this website, it was out of need. I needed a place to work out my own thoughts and to document my own struggle with the truth. The the world is trapped in deception, by design. Adam established a race of rebellious men, intent on replacing God with themselves. Including me. And I have spent a lot of days of my life trying to be God. But within the Bible I have begun to find answers. Better yet, I’ve begun to question. What is truth? How much of my existence is spent in deception, either from within myself or from the world around me? A good portion, I think. Kokesh’s video stimulated me to question what is true in terms of our nation. I hope it has stimulated something within you, as well, even if you mostly disagree.
Please comment. Freely. Only by questioning can we ever find answers.