For the Greater Good??

How Many Lives is Too Many Lives?

Posted in Uncategorized by mkunka on September 24, 2009

I don’t remember who said it, but I once heard that “death is the only sure thing in life.”  We’re all doomed from the get go.  Although deep down every individual knows this , chances are likely it rarely enters our mind.  Death can be very frightening if you sit and think about it.  Right now I am picturing myself a frail old man, plugged into God knows how many machines, my final minutes slipping through my fingers…it’s utterly terrifying to imagine.  First off, imagining my youth entirely consumed is scary enough, adding to it the image of my final moments is plenty to set me over the edge.  Perhaps it is reasons like this that we avoid the topic of death in conversation and even in our thoughts nearly every single day.

If we were all rational people, maybe death wouldn’t be “such a big deal”.  Meaning, instead of fearing everything about death, we just accept it for what it is; death is part of the cycle of life.  A post by the New York Times on September 21 states that:

The Department of Defense has identified 4,336 American service members who have died since the start of the Iraq war…(NYTimes).

The current conflict affecting the United States of America is, of course, the war with Iraq.  As stated above over four thousand American souls have perished at the gruesome hands of war.  Although these some four thousand lives may sound like an incredible amount, the truth of it is that it is such a small number in terms of population.  Seeing as there are well over 300 million Americans, these 4,336 deaths is barely 1/1000 of a percent of the population.

The book, “Testament of Youth,” is written by Vera Brittain.  She wrote the book to tell the world about her life while she lived in England during World War I.  Through her words we can experience the emotion she is feeling when she discovers that the love of her life was killed in battle.  The emotion of losing a loved one is so intense that it can even be felt from a century old loss.

World War I emaciated the youth of Europe.  The United Kingdom as a whole lost over 2% of its population.  Dozens of millions of lives were lost, countries were left obliterated and bankrupt, times were not good.  Today, we still feel the effect that World War I had on us, and yet we are currently at war.  I know that there are “good reasons” to be at war with Iraq *cough cough*.  What I am inquiring here, is whether or not those some 4,000+ lives have the same value to our nation that the millions lost during World War I had to theirs.  Is there a certain number, that when reached war turns from necessary to just plain cruel?  When will we reach that number.  No offense to anyone defending our nation or anyone who knows someone who is defending our nation, but I live the majority of my days not thinking about the war in Iraq (my accounting test on Friday has me a little more worried).  What will it take for this war to become embedded in my mind…or even in the minds of all Americans.  Am I going to want to live in a world like that?

New York Times

Names of the Dead – List

September 21, 2009


How Young is Too Young????

Posted in Uncategorized by mkunka on September 18, 2009

The ongoing conflicts in the Middle East hit home for many Americans.  Whether or not you are aware of it, chances are likely that you have some affiliation to a soldier or know someone who does.  Knowing a soldier doesn’t necessarily mean they are fighting oversees, but it seems more and more lately that this case is true.  So many young men and women willingly enlist in the armed forces in attempts to tie down some permanent peace in the Middle East.  What I want to know is how young is too young?  Is 18 much too young of an age for Americans to risk their lives and the many opportunities they face if they were to remain on American soil?

For years and years while growing up adults always claimed that our teenage life was supposed to be “the time of our life!”  We were practically ordered to enjoy it while we could, because apparently aging is some horrific and unfair event…It almost seems a little crazy then to throw away this supposed fantastic time and enlist in something that could turn fatal.  In “Vera Brittain: Testament of Youth” Brittain writes about how the youth of her turn was forced to grow up over night to prepare for battle, death, and destruction.

The War, we decided, came hardest of all upon us who were young.  the middle-aged and the old had known their period of joy, whereas upon us catastrophe had descended just in time to deprive us of that youthful happiness to which we had believed ourselves entitled (129).

Those who fought in the war were tormented by days and weeks stuck in trenches and in desolate battlefields, while those who remained home sat around for months on end wondering if they would ever see their loved ones again, all the while finding themselves responsible for all of the work the soldiers are no longer there to perform.

Another thing I have become aware of is that all of the people I know who are both my age (early twenties) and preparing for the Middle East view war as the ultimate glory for America.  They have built up in their minds this image of slaying evil and spreading peace, returning home to eternal glory and satisfaction.  This is a major misconception, the truth of war is grim.  In Iraq and the Middle East, roadside bombings leave our nations youth a pile of blackened corpses and singed rags on the side of the road.  Doesn’t sound too glorious…maybe it’s just me though.  Brittain touched on this in her memoir when talking of a letter she received from her “squeeze”, Roland.  Roland wrote:

I used to talk of the Beauty of War; but it is only War in the abstract that is beautiful.  Modern warfare is merely a trade, and it is only a matter of taste whether one is a soldier or a greengrocer, as far as I can see (172).

War is deadly and cruel, beautiful and glorious only from afar.  War will not take into consideration your age, your gender, race, occupation…War does not give a damn.

The First

Posted in Uncategorized by mkunka on September 14, 2009

Well, here goes nothing.  Joining this class late, I have been a little slow at getting my frist blog up and running.  I am still a little confused about where to go to find the podcasts and really in depth/specific feeds, but thus far I have managed to subscribe to two.  Although both of my originate from the New York Times website, one is the general NYTimes feed and the other is the Middle East feed.  Since this class is the literary response to war, I figured having a feed based on and from the Middle East (the largest “war-zone” of modern day) was crucial.

I am going to go through and read my classmates blogs and figure out where they are finding some of their information and base some of my decisions off of theirs.  I know that I would like to find some sort of personal blog or feed from soldiers themselves touring the Middle East.

So far we have read only from the “World War One British Poets” book in class.  We have discussed several different types of writing of the different poets.  There are many different ways that people may view war.  There are those that view it as the ultimate glory that one can show for its country.  Fighting, rushing, slaying, shooting, marching to better one’s nation.

At the opposite end of the spectrum we have those who may fight for their nation but are tormented physically and emotionally by what they are seeing and doing.  The guts, the grime, the murder and death can torture soldiers for the remainder of their life, if they are not slain in the line of duty.  The bitter ugliness of the war is nothing beautiful or nothing worth glory.

I would like to see if I can find two separate feeds, one of each sides of this radical spectrum.  I would like to hear a point of view of someone who is in the glory of battle, and suffering from the torment of battle.  It may be difficult to find someone who has first hand experience of battle and is willing to talk about it, but as my search techniques strengthen I hope I can come out lucky.