Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Reluctant Warrior and Patriotism

Happy late Fourth of July. I fully realize the irony of writing a military blog while not posting about the holiday. I was hesitant to do so because I could not conceive of a gripping topic and I did not want to just throw a random post out there. After reading the comments on this thread, I now have something worth talking about. The original post was fairly innocuous, and its message matched what we have been discussing with the troops of a father and son. But at about comment 52 a writer attacks the thought that military service is patriotic. Plus he inserts a quote from Spencer W. Kimball which equates military service and military might as "Satan's Counterfeit to true patriotism". I don't want to quote out of context so please read the comment for yourself.

This comment bothered me due to several reasons. I will present them from least bothering to greatest. First, it reminded me of the old political argument that dissent is truest form of patriotism. This is an old liberal trope that seeks to excuse dissenters from their draft dodging King Men like arguments. I understand that there needs to be legitimate debate concerning foreign policy, but this debate often gives way to shrill, vicious, and petty partisan sniping that endangers our troops. That behavior is little better than the King Men being pleased with the trials of their countrymen (Alma 61:3). But I try to keep the scriptures out of partisan debates because everybody can find their own rationale for their position.

Secondly, the commentator attacked Moroni [1] and many other military figures in the BoM. I always examine figures with as little bias as possible but an in depth study of a persons life usually makes you hate them or love them. For instance, my study of George C. Marshall's confirmation as Secretary of Defense left me with an incredibly deep dislike for isolationist Republicans of the 1950s. In a similar vein my study of Moroni [1] has firmly established him as a figure worthy of mine and everybody's respect.

In regards to patriotism we read in Alma 61 that Moroni and Pahoran believed that :

10...now, behold, we will resist wickedness even unto bloodshed. We would not shed the blood of the Lamanites if they would stay in their own land.
11 We would not shed the blood of our brethren if they would not rise up in rebellion and take the sword against us.
12 We would subject ourselves to the yoke of bondage if it were requisite with the justice of God, or if he should command us so to do.
13 But behold he doth not command us that we shall subject ourselves to our enemies, but that we should put our trust in him, and he will deliver us.
14 Therefore, my beloved brother, Moroni, let us resist evil, and whatsoever evil we cannot resist with our words, yea, such as rebellions and dissensions, let us resist them with our swords, that we may retain our freedom, that we may rejoice in the great privilege of our church, and in the cause of our Redeemer and our God.


This is the titular verse of the thread. Moroni did not seek war, he did not want to fight, and he would have surrendered if God commanded. But instead Moroni put his trust in God and resisted evil with his sword. This concept of the reluctant warrior stands in stark contrast to the commentator's assertion (using Kimball out of context) that military service is a "counterfeit patriotism". A complete reliance upon your own strength is wrong and could be called counterfeit patriotism. But the kind of service given by Moroni does not qualify, and its shameful of Derek to prop his political position with out of context quotes and by denigrating an individual in Holy Writ. Moroni's military service was born out of patriotism, a deep love and respect for God and Country.

Thirdly, he has disrespected the many military men and women who did sign up out of a sense of patriotism to their country. I have served seven years in the military. I volunteered before 9/11 and re-enlisted twice afterwards. I did not enlist due to my war like desire and trust of man's power but because I thought my country deserved my service in return for what it did for me.

In 2007 I was reaching the conclusion of my original term of service. I had been married less than 6 months, the Democrats had just won control of congress, the surge had not yet truly started, the Iraq war had reached its nadir, and my unit was scheduled to deploy in less than a year. Of course I was not going to re enlist. But then I received an email from the Commandant of the Marine Corps asking me to reconsider my decision. This was the day after I listened to a lecture from Ronald C. Carter concerning Valley Forge and the War for Independence. I did not want to re enlist, but I had been asked to serve my country a little while longer. So I answered the call to service and enlisted for another two years. Thankfully my unit's deployment was cancelled a few months later. Thus I served my country, not because I wanted to, but because I felt it was the sacred duty I owed my country. Furthermore, my military service drew me closer to God. Just like Moroni, I did not want to fight, and I wish nobody had to, but sometimes we are called to serve due to circumstances beyond ones control. "But trusting my all to his tender care" I did what I felt called to do. (LDS Hymns, "I'll go where you want me to go")

Not only did I sacrifice in a way similar to Moroni (albeit with far less personal cost to me), but some people choose to disparage our service. They choose to prop up their political views by using a prophet's words as a club. This club then knocks down our service and the sincere Christ like motivations behind them.

The reluctant warrior, as displayed by Moroni [1] is an ideal model for why a person should give turn to the sword, and describes the connection between military service and patriotism. I hope that we can keep the true spirit of the 4th of July with us throughout the year. I also hope that we can avoid petty sniping as many true patriots are currently marching through the Afghan desert.

6 comments:

David J. West said...

Holy Cow that was ridiculous thread back there. I have come to the conclusion that a vast majority of LDS bloggers are incredibly liberal in the aforementioned arena and there is only so much that can be discussed with them before all hell breaks loose and they miss the point entirely.

In any case happy belated 4th. I didn't post about it either because I wanted to have something worthy-then got sick etc etc, anyway. Glad you're here. Don't get discouraged, the Lord has need of willing men.

Morgan Deane said...

Yeah, the blogosphere is not only liberal but incredibly intolerant of orthodox Mormon beliefs. Thanks for reading! If you see any typos please let me know.

Kyle Hendricks said...

So I answered the call to service and enlisted for another two years. My unit's deployment was cancelled but not until a months later

[1] Canceled
[2] erm, I think you mean Month instead of Months, but I'm not to sure about that one. There were a few more, but I have to be out the door.
P.S., Great post!

Morgan Deane said...

Thanks Kyle, its a neverending battle trying to find all the typos. No matter how many times I read I still manage to find another.

Scott said...

Morgan, I appreciate your post, though I am basically a lurker and rarely a commenter.

re your comment (in response to David above) about intolerance of orthodox views, I do take exception. I blog at BCC, and I know you've been around those parts and at times been treated less than warmly--including a disagreement with me, which I maintain to this day was a complete misunderstanding on both of our parts.

As a new perma at BCC, and as a person who very much considers himself "orthodox" in the LDS Church, I also formerly found myself saying the same thing as you--that they are intolerant of orthodox views. I have not read the thread you linked to, and don't intend to, so I cannot speak for what got their panties in a wad, but I want to relate one less I have learned in my short time at BCC:

"Orthodoxy" is very difficult to define for other people.

The problem that many people--at BCC and elsewhere--with "orthodoxy" is that the people who most frequently use that term have chosen a definition of it that essentially excludes people who disagree with them. That definition, hinged upon areas of disagreement, is then used for juding righteousness relative to others. No one at BCC hates conservatives; lots of people at BCC hate being told by conservatives that they're less righteous. There are lots of people at BCC and elsewhere in the mormon blogosphere who consider themselves "orthodox" LDS people, and are really sad/annoyed/irked when other people try to tell them that they're actually NOT orthodox.

The instant you take upon yourself the ability or role of determining who is orthodox and who is not, you take a gigantic step toward unjust judging.

Morgan Deane said...

Thanks for the comment Scott. If it makes you feel any better I don't remember our disagreement so their are definitely no hard feelings on my part! If it was the Ultimate Fighting Thread I believe I mis read your comment and then over reacted.

You are correct in assuming my comment was aimed at BCC. If more people voiced thier disagreement the way you did I would not have a problem with them. My above comment was based on several instances where I defended the fairly innocuous belief that prophets are inspired and you should be cautious when you seek to criticize them. In response I was villified on more than one occasion by more than one person in rather mean terms.

However I truly appreciate your comments and I will examine my approach to "orthodoxy" and be aware that I may be guilty of the intolerance I see in others. I will also examine my approach to commenting over there.

Thanks for commenting, its always nice to know that I have a few more readers than I realized. :)