Commentary: What Are You Willing to Sacrifice? By Jon Kidde

Friday November 25, 2005

Just about everyone supports the troops. It has become taboo not to. They are, after all, not making the decisions, just following orders. So whether you agree with the war effort or are opposed to it, it has become unpatriotic, unsympathetic, and even seen as a disregard for life to not support them. They are just troops, just soldiers, sailors, and airmen carrying out their duties, but willing to sacrifice their lives. They come back emotionally and physically bruised and battered. Officially, more than 15,500 military personnel have been physically wounded in action. With Veterans’ Day sparking the country’s memory, discussions about the returning veterans, who will be forever changed regardless of their physical condition, are only now entering into the mainstream discourse. The 2,057 bodies that return, hidden by the blackness of night and the darkness of our own indifference are only remembered by their loved ones; the honor of their life and the dignity of their duty repressed and concealed by a fearful government. 

The executive branch has taken hegemony to a whole new level, strategizing and succeeding at injecting its ideology into the legislature and the courts, but especially into the faithful. This executive team has a plan. They play religion like a prodigal pianist plays the piano; the notes of their instrument carefully selected to win the hearts and minds of the masses. Faith is a powerful instrument and is proving to be more powerful than the higher power in which the faith has been placed. Faith and religion guide actions and provide companionship in the search for a moral authority. For some, the exploration of morality is solitary; others seek companionship in the journey from other sources. The leaders of this country, our country, have twisted faith and religion; they have designated themselves as the moral authority, guided by God, and so many of us have accepted. Those of us who have not accepted the connection between our government and God have accepted our role as just a citizen. Government has not taken our authority; we have given it, along with our responsibility. Our job has become only to listen. The instrument they play either sounds good to our ears (it is after all God’s music) or is too complicated and we criticize the musician. We have disempowered ourselves and have lost confidence in our ability to act. If we do anything at all, we criticize, passively reacting, again leaving the proactive approaches to others. Government has taken the authority and accepts the criticism. It is a small price to pay for the power and authority handed to them. 

We are sympathetic to the troops and support them because they are just troops, just as we are only citizens. How can we not support them; it was our lack of action, our sedentary state, that has sent someone else’s, and our own, children in harm’s way in order to build the businesses and fill the coffers of the men at the apex of our government all in the name of freedom and peace. We have become observers rather than players. Subject to the whims of the empowered government, we disempower ourselves and become victims. 

The troops sacrifice their lives. What are we as citizens willing to sacrifice? Often without the luxury of doubt or the ability to postpone action, the troops march on, for us. We sit, and critique, and victimize ourselves. We are ashamed. 


Oakland resident Jon Kidde is a concerned citizen interested in social justice through civic engagement. He is struggling to become more active as just a citizen.