In a week that included Veterans Day, the attack on Paris shocked the world, I won’t go into the religious distortions used by Islamic militants. Lord knows Christian religions were as guilty in the past.
On PBS this week was our remembering the Battle for Iwo Jima. The Marines suffered 24,000 killed or injured and the Japanese force of 16,000 was all but annihilated. Old soldiers from both sides met and embraced on the anniversary in a nice, feel-good moment.
A U.S. General commanding there said he was often asked if it was worth it. He replied that if you lost a love one it was not but that if you look at what it accomplished in ending the war it was.
In that war both sides decimated various locations — Dresden, London, and Tokyo were bombed affecting civilian population in the thousands as attacks on civilian moral.
So, what about Paris?
I think the General’s remarks have some meaning. This smaller world puts us all closer together and makes us friends of the 128 whose lives were lost. It is insignificant in comparison but many will feel that “not worth it” moment he mentioned.
It appears that the psychological effect that IS was going for will backfire. The French and U.S. are talking about greater attacks on IS in Syria as a response. One analyst suggest that the current attacks are crippling IS and the Paris attack was trying to silence the French as it silenced the Spanish earlier.
Thinking of the loss at just Iwo Jima; looking at the Vietnam Memorial wall; considering the losses in Iraq and Afghanistan gives us all pause. We now pause to consider Paris. But, it is just a pause.
Religion is funny. It produces Saints and vile sinners in seemingly equal proportions. John Brown and Rasputin stand out as surely as medical missionaries and religious charities. And that is true for all our major religions whose zealots have sullied and misrepresented the faith. True too for the 16-million Muslims who are besmirched by the few thousand active terrorists in their midst.
Let us keep perspective in a time where war has morphed to its present form.