I Don’t Understand
January 29th, 2008 by Sonja

I don’t understand the taking of life.  Honestly, I don’t get it.  I become nauseated when I have to squish a spider or an insect … unless it’s a mosquito; mosquito’s get no quarter.  I’ve been wrestling with this lately.  Here’s how it’s been moshing around in my brain.

We watched Braveheart together for the first time as a family about a week ago.  The LightChildren did not see the end.  We stopped the movie at the scene in which William Wallace is captured.  That’s where it all ended for them.  I cannot even stomach that final scene, I was not going to visit it upon my sweet kids.

I was fascinated by the Battle of Stirling Bridge.  That’s the big battle between the Scots and British … the battle everafter referred to as the “Butt” Battle by the LightChildren, because it is the one preceded by a mooning of the British by the Scots with a salute by raising of the kilts and posteriors in such a way as to mock the British.  We all had a good laugh as we were intended to.

As the battle is filmed the camera cuts back and forth between the British soldiers and the Scottish warriors.  Here are some things I noted about the differences in the armies.  It’s something I’ve often pondered and when I think about it these are “rules” that go back to the dawn of time almost.  The British army (the invaders) were uniform.  They all wore the same thing.  They were heavily armored and protected.  Notably they were also cloned.  They weren’t actual clones, but their armor made them all look alike.  You could not tell one from another; they were faceless, nameless units of destruction and killing.  They operated on command and as a unit.  They did not move or react unless told to do so.

On the other hand the Scottish army was at the other end of the armed spectrum.  Every soldier was different.  They all carried different weapons; whatever they had in their home at the time they left.  The same for their armor, what little they had (hand shields for the most part).  Their primary source of energy was their wits.  They operated on a whim and on their hearts.

Now, here’s the meat of what I don’t understand.  The Scots were fighting to regain control of their land, lives and their freedom.  Those are things worth sacrificing your life for.  They are worth fighting for and risking your life for.  But I have never been able to understand how men (and now women) march into battle without those things at risk.  The British Army were not defending anything.  The men on the ground fighting risked punishment if they didn’t and dying if they did.  But, really, I’d take the punishment over dying.

I’m not saying this very well.  The powers that seek to gain empire are never the schmucks who do the actual fighting or take the actual risk.  The powers must seek out others to do their dirty work for them.  But there is nothing to be gained for those doing the dirty work, because the prize goes to the powers.  So, I’ve never understood how they go about getting the battle fought for empire.  I just don’t understand …

8 Responses  
  • sally-coleman@btconnect.com writes:
    January 29th, 200811:09 amat

    I guess for the British soldiers like soldiers today- they had to do it, it was their job, and as distasteful as it is to us, for some the army offers a better way of life than anything they have experienced so far….

    As for killing, and violence I understand your feelings… we should have questions.

  • Paul writes:
    January 29th, 200812:50 pmat

    i don’t like braveheart either – it grates on me the historical inaccuracies and portrayal of the English – oh well i guess i am biased 😉

  • Pistol Pete writes:
    January 29th, 200812:50 pmat

    I think it’s more than just having to do it. I think the drive to fight for a cause, whatever that cause may be, is a very powerful one. When a soldier comes to believe s/he is fighting for freedom, for instance, even if that freedom is simply some remote ideal, that can be cause enough to die for.

  • Maria writes:
    January 29th, 20082:03 pmat

    I have to say I’ve never watched Braveheart. I did see the lesser movie with men in kilts that came out around the same time, and that seemed quite enough of that genre for me … for a lifetime.

    As far as your question — I don’t get it either. The cynical side of me says the grunts fight because they’ve been promised a classic bait and switch — glory, a cause, freedom, or perhaps a jumpstart on a career, an education, a way out of inner city poverty — and find themselves bashing Scots or losing limbs so you and I can drive our SUVs. No, I definitely don’t get it.

  • Cathy writes:
    January 29th, 20086:16 pmat

    I called Braveheart “Midieval Weapon”. Was very similar in plot to the Lethal Weapon movies.

  • kievasfargo writes:
    January 29th, 20089:31 pmat

    I don’t get it either.

    “The powers that seek to gain empire are never the schmucks who do the actual fighting or take the actual risk” That’s the reason people like W are so eager to rush into war.

  • Mike writes:
    January 29th, 200811:03 pmat

    Great thoughts Sonja. I always thought that the leaders of disputing countries should go “one on one”; after all, that’s where the dispute really is, not with the people. I’m willing to bet that there would be less strife in the world if the leaders who wanted to conquer and wage war had to risk their own ass to do it.

  • Charlie writes:
    January 31st, 200812:13 amat

    The British soldiers were subjects of the King and compelled to serve in the army. Whether they agreed with the King’s politics made no difference. They lived in the King’s land and were not free to avoid service, except by fleeing to another country. That’s one aspect.

    But I suspect the real reason you don’t “get it” is that you aren’t a man — not a put down, just a fact. Think of rugby, boxing, football and so many other examples of men competing in dangerous games, taking abuse, accepting risk and injury. Men are attracted to danger and to opportunities to “prove” themselves to other men. Maybe it’s what testosterone does to us. Maybe it’s genetic. Maybe it’s a role model handed down through centuries of the warrior/protector of the clan. Maybe a combination of factors.

    Men are from Mars, after all.

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