Saturday, September 06, 2003

On Maintaining a Good Humor in Combat

There comes a time for every citizen when our nation calls on us to go to war. Most of us eagerly await this call, unless of course we have just sat down to dinner. If your nation shows up at your door, tell them it is not a good time, as you are in the middle of a bath. If your nation persists, say that you have a hard time remembering basic details--like how to launder your shorts in the rain--particularly when exploding in a fiery ambush. If your nation says it is your civic duty, do your best imitation of a South Philadelphian and accuse them of being soft on "the enemy," then chase them out of your neighborhood with an American flag cudgel.

If you do go into the military, for God's sake please pick a job that keeps you from getting shot at. This is never any kind of fun--and it's a very good way to spoil an evening. If your hope is to be killed instantaneously, certainly there are better ways to lower your monthly electric bill. Not that killing other people is any fun either. Remember Ezra Pound's lasting impression: "The real trouble with war is that it gives no one a chance to kill the right people." More often than not, the "right" people are watching you expire in droves on CNN from a yacht serving cocktails in Lake Michigan, with a hand-written sign that reads, "We Support Our Troops." But this is no reason to despair. The right people will always die of their own accord, and sometimes in embarrassing positions.

It is particularly important for combat troops to "be of good cheer," and certainly not to "ask for the resignation of the Defense Secretary." This only serves to hurt the Defense Secretary's feelings--and doesn't he already have enough thrust upon him without the weight of hurt feelings? Bear in mind also that questioning the policies of one's government only helps the enemy, who also questions our government, but in a multiple-choice format. This allows the enemy to grade the results much faster, whereas most Americans receive their responses in essay form. This leaves Americans getting most of their information from the National Football League, which speaks volumes about our society, if only they weren't measured by the pint.