Is There Nobility in Being a Soldier Today?

Previously, it was considered a heroic act to die on the battlegrounds fighting for your country. Fighting for freedom, or so they say. You’re given a license to murder the enemy. It’s not just a license, but oftentimes an objective or is unavoidable as part of the greater mission. I’m not terribly concerned with the whole idea of unnecessary bloodshed. What I’m interested in discussing today is whether there’s any sense of nobility in joining the military and fighting on the front line for your country.

So is it noble or futile? There are many benefits of joining the military including fitness development and maintenance as well as making a decent buck in many countries while doing so. You may get to travel and experience different cultures which, to some, is desirable. Those reasons alone may make it a wise personal decision for many. But when you’re placed in the situation whereby you have to fight for your life, you may find yourself doing very terrible things. Most people who join the army never wish to kill anyone. And yet they may well be placed in a scenario whereby they have to do this (unthinkable to some) act of brutality. And for what? What reason is there to justify your actions?

Is it noble to kill an enemy soldier simply because they’re trying to kill you? You cannot make the argument that you’re doing it for the protection and freedom of your country in today’s society unless you’re reading this from the Middle East, which I find unlikely. We should understand that any physically-waged war in the twenty-first century is most likely futile. Any real change such combat could bring about can be amplified exponentially by political negotiation and education.

And so what possible courageous or noble reason could we have to die on the battlefield today? Sure, there may be individual noble acts such as protecting your brother and sister soldiers by sacrificing yourself for their survival. But that is not a motivation to become a soldier and the whole situation can be evaded by not being in that position to begin with.

Let’s suppose your opposing argument is that to bring an end to terrorism, it is inherently necessary to wage the war on terror by eradicating those extremists who threaten our way of life. It is of my understanding that the most effective way to deal with such a problem is not on the battlefield and never will be. Instead, there must be an investment into geopolitics. There must be abolition of the ideologies surrounding martyrdom. I hate to bring religion into this but the religion of Islam is, at least by some means, partly responsible for the Jihadism that has become central to most of today’s interest in the Middle East.

Perhaps the nobility of being a soldier would have been preserved today if physical confrontation on the battlefield was, in fact, an effective and wise way of addressing the problem. But it is fundamentally a geopolitical and theocratic war we’re waging today.

I guess I should probably rephrase the title of this post since my argument veered a little towards the end, but I’m not going to. Please share with me in the form of a comment if you have any differing views. I’d love to continue this in the form of a debate.

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