There is no honor in dying for the state

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The world of political correctness is a funny place.  In the typical left vs right, progressive vs conservative, or Democrat vs Republican paradigm, it’s usually the person on the right, the conservative, and the Republican who accuse the other side of being overly sensitive when it comes to speech.  They love to go out of their way to fight against this political correctness.  And they’re often correct to not adhere to the silliness.  Political correctness has gotten so bad some people expect you to not assume their gender even when it’s completely obvious what their gender is.

I don’t want to live in a world where I’m considered evil if I don’t ask a person which pronoun he wishes to be referred to with.

Fortunately, people who have this expectation are incredibly rare.  While you can certainly find many them on the internet, I’ve never actually met any of these people.  I will concede that this isn’t the best example, so maybe a better example—or at least one that is much more commonplace—is to suggest that the gender wage gap doesn’t exist.  This claim is often met with disdain and is taken as a personal insult.

That is a completely absurd reaction.  The supposed gender wage gap can be analyzed objectively and the arguments in favor of it can be easily rationally debunked.  So I get the frustration that politically incorrect people feel.  I also get the desire to immediately dismiss someone who reacts with pure anger and emotion when presented with an idea that falls outside of their comfortable paradigm.

Therefore, I’m often on the side of the conservative who pushes back against the leftist political correctness.

But that does not mean that the conservative is always correct on political correctness.  In reality, it is the conservative who is often even more guilty of reacting with pure emotion and vitriol to an idea that he disagrees with.

Just go on your Facebook feed and I’m sure you’ll find a picture of an American flag with a caption like, “Share this if you don’t believe that it’s politically incorrect to say the Pledge of Allegiance.”  Or maybe it’s a picture of a soldier or a police officer with the caption, “Share if you’re not offended by supporting the police.”

The irony of this is that they get extremely offended if you don’t put your hand on your heart, if you don’t say that you support the troops, or if you say that there is a problem with the police.

But this is child’s play compared to what I’m about to say (maybe at least for new readers).  And I’m not about to say it because I want to offend anyone.  I believe what I’m about to say and I truly think the world would be a better, more peaceful place if people thought about what I’m about to say.

So here it is.

There is no special honor in dying in the line of duty as a soldier, police officer, or even a firefighter.  Really, this applies to any agent of the state.  While their intention in their jobs are often very pure, their deaths are almost always in vain.  And it’s a huge problem that this idea will immediately be dismissed as absolutely disgusting and that at least 99% of people would immediately label be as the worst type of jerk possible.

This is not to say that their deaths shouldn’t be mourned or that it’s not regrettable.  It’s not to say that they aren’t capable of bravery (running into gunfire takes a lot of bravery—bravery that may or may not be aimed at goodness).  But to immediately react to a police officer’s death with “he’s a hero” actually makes it worse for police officers and the like.

I’ll be met with “Well, that’s convenient for you to say.  They’re the ones putting their lives on the line for you to make the world a better place.  Without their sacrifices, your life would be unlivable.”

If that is your position, why play favorites?  Do you hold farmers, loggers, fishermen, roofers, trash collectors, truck drivers, or electrical workers in the same esteem?

Do you expect the city to shut down and everyone in the dead worker’s industry to participate in a funeral procession?

Do you say, “Thank you for your service,” to other workers in the same industry as you pass them by in the streets?

Do you admire the dead worker and think, “We need more people like him, willing to put his life down for the benefit of others”?

Of course, you don’t.  But why don’t you?  Does their work not have an appreciable positive impact on your life?  Would you like to have to farm your own food, cut down your own trees for lumber, put shingles on your own roof, or send your own garbage to a landfill?

What you do probably do, however, is wonder how the worker was put into such a predicament that would lead to his death.  Did he do something foolish?  Was his employer negligent?  These are the correct reactions.  When an untimely workplace death happens, we ought to find what caused it so we can take actions to prevent it from ever happening again.

But when the employer is the state, people don’t tend to think that way.  When a soldier dies, do people ask, “Why were we fighting this war to begin with?”  When a police officer dies, do people ask, “Why was he enforcing that law?”  We need to dig deeper than just that.  We need to ask the fundamental, foundational questions about the role of the state and the roles it asks its agents to play.  The state, however, has done an excellent job of drumming up extreme emotional attachments to the work of its agents.  They wear sharp uniforms and they run advertisements showing how tough and selfless they are.  Since we live in a democratic society, they label them as “public servants.”  They say things like, “They chose to protect and serve their country.”

All of this is aimed at elicited a certain emotional response.  If you truly believe that someone is doing something honorable, how dare you question anything they do?  And if some ill fate befalls them, how dare you do anything other than join in with everyone else to lavish praise and honor on the fallen simply because he is fallen.

If you can stir up the kinds of emotions that the state does when a soldier or police officer dies, you’ve won.  That emotion terminates any and all thought that might result in questioning the status quo.  It doesn’t allow someone to think about it and realize that maybe it’s the state who creates most of the danger for the soldiers, police, and firefighters.

Maybe it’s the monopolization of fire departments that doesn’t allow for better ideas for fire prevention and safer firefighting.  Maybe it’s bad laws and the enforcement of victimless crimes that creates a violent environment.  Maybe it’s mindset that everyone is a possible criminal that leads to more engagements by the police.  Maybe it’s the awful foreign policy of the federal government that causes people to take up arms against the United States.  Maybe it’s blowback from blowing up towns and killing innocent civilians that leads people to desire to fight wars against the country.  Maybe it’s the meddling in foreign elections and the pursuit of regime change that causes massive instability and power vacuums around the world and creates hostile nations.  Maybe it’s the arming of known terrorists who fight against a common enemy that strengthens the same terrorists your soldiers are fighting across a border.

You cannot progress as a person or as a society if you don’t question the status quo or what is commonly held as truth.  Progress is made when someone dares to question what he’s told to believe.  If a disagreement with your belief causes you discomfort or elicits a negative emotion, that’s a signal that it needs to be questioned.  It doesn’t prove it wrong, but you need to figure out why you believe it.

If we actually question the politically correct positions and thus don’t automatically create an aura of some elevated honor surrounding the death of an agent of the state, then maybe we’ll see fewer of their deaths.  If you refuse to do anything but get angry at these counterthoughts, then you should be aware that the red that you see on your hands is the blood of those you claim to cherish.

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