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Chris Hedges, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002)Chris Hedges, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (New York: Public Affairs, 2002)

         Every spring our church acknowledges the high school seniors who are graduating. A few weeks ago during this rite of passage the pastor remarked that while most of the kids were fanning out to colleges across the country, Bill had just joined the Marines.  Joined the Marines?!  With a war in Iraq, and the government clamoring for more “boots on the ground?”

         If war is hell on earth, and it is, why would any sensible person volunteer to join?  Perhaps it is not too unreasonable for a gullible and naïve teenager who listens to the recruiter’s sales job—patriotism, travel the world for free, have the government pay for your college, purvey American democracy around the globe, the rightness of our cause, the certitude of the state and its propaganda, and if you believe George W. Bush, even divine sanction.  But deeper than these external motivators, there is, writes Chris Hedges, something deep within the human psyche that actually craves, needs and even enjoys war.  The dust jacket of his book quotes General George S. Patton to this effect, “Compared to war all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance.  God, I do love it so!”

         It is just this sort of perverted glorification of war that has led to over 100 million deaths in this century alone.  Hedges has covered wars around the globe for the last fifteen years. His book, he says, is not a call to action, but “a call to repentance” that intends to expose these many lies that feed and even justify this basest of all human instincts which, however much it is glorified, is ultimately a will to death.

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