By Bradley Harrington
“To those of you who answered the call of your country and served in its armed forces to bring about the total defeat of the enemy, I extend the heartfelt thanks of a grateful nation.” — President Harry S. Truman, “Military Commendation,” 1945 —
If there’s one thing the radical Left is expert at, it’s manipulating principles and definitions in any way necessary in order to achieve the political objective at hand.
As I was listening to the radio the other day, for instance, an Army National Guard ad touted the virtues of “service” and “self-sacrifice” as motivating factors for getting recruits to sign up. And, a couple of days before that, an acquaintance with knowledge of my prior service (USMC) thanked me for my “sacrifice” as well.
Umm … Well, that’s not quite what happened, and you’re about to read a minority viewpoint.
So: What do we mean, exactly, when we speak of “self-sacrifice”?
Most people understand that term to entail the rejection or destruction of a greater value in exchange for a lesser value or a non-value — that is, that it involves self-negation in favor of providing benefits to the lives of others.
A few, additionally, might grasp that this creed, both as a personal morality as well as a political philosophy, has been preached, to one degree or another, since Plato onward.
That changed forever on July 4, 1776, however, when American political philosophers declared to the world that we, as individuals and not as members of a tribe, had our own rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” independent of whatever good we might or might not be doing for others — and that it was the protection of those rights that served as the purpose for which “governments are instituted among men …”
This is a very important point to grasp, for it inverted the traditional historical philosophical pyramid completely: Instead of holding the collective as supreme, with individual human beings considered as the means to that end, American political philosophers declared that it was the INDIVIDUAL who was supreme instead — and that society, properly structured, should best be the means for providing each of us with the protection of our lives, liberty and property.
This was the first time a political revolution had been based on an idea — the idea of liberty — instead of merely on the accidents of war and conquest, and it didn’t take long for the new nation’s military to find recruits eager to protect and defend that value from those who would aggress upon it. Not as an act of “sacrifice,” but precisely as a profoundly selfish act rooted in the desire to protect the ideas of our society and culture.
So, to all of the moral philosophers out there, who seek to turn my service into some kind of mawkish collectivist “sacrifice,” let me state it clearly: I joined the military to protect and defend the values of the United States. Period!! “Sacrifice” had absolutely nothing to do with it.
Nor was this “sacrifice” nonsense part of our military vocabulary for the bulk of our history. In Truman’s commendation message for the veterans of World War II service above, for instance, observe the goal of that military service: Not “sacrifice,” but “the total defeat of the enemy.”
Translation: To protect values, not to give them up. To defend freedom, not to wipe it out. To preserve our culture, not to negate it! And, in return for that service, Truman extended “the heartfelt thanks of a grateful nation.”
To claim, as the radical Left is doing, that such honorable goals and actions now consist of “sacrifice,” instead of the protection of values they represent instead, can only be viewed as an attempt to obliterate those values. To, literally, define them out of existence. For, once the idea of “service” has been stripped of its legitimately honorable connotations, what words or concepts are left to denote the values represented by such an action?
And if that isn’t “manipulating principles and definitions in any way necessary,” then nothing qualifies.
And, the political objective, in this case? What else can it possibly be, but the emasculation of our armed forces? If the Left can successfully convince potential military recruits that there’s no longer any value in defending liberty and individualism — that their “service” is to now consist of “self-sacrifice” and that those values don’t merit protection any longer — then aren’t they, in essence, attempting to strip us of our right to self-defense?
And that’s an action, Dear Readers, that should be setting off red flags all over the place.
Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on November 26, 2017.