Sunday, January 15, 2012

War Is Hell

You don't see taunting in professional cycling. At least I never have. I guess the closest thing to that would have been "The Look" that Lance gave Jan Ulrich on the climb up Alpe D'Huez during the Tour de France in 2001.

They have penalties in most sports for taunting because society thinks taunting is bad sportsmanship. And even so you see a lot of taunting anyway. And trash talking. I'm sure there's some trash talking in professional cycling too but I just haven't seen much taunting.

In most sporting endeavors there is a mental side to the preparation and performance of whatever you are engaged in. I guess trash talking and taunting are a way to try to gain an advantage over your opponent by chinking away at their mentality. A mentality that is probably melting away slowly from the pressure and strain of whatever contest you're engaged in and the more something hurts the less mental edge you are going to have anyway. Concentration is key and if you can cause your opponents to lose their concentration it will definitely affect their performance and give you a better chance at victory. Right Lance?

Cycling is a very physical sport. One of if not the toughest in the world. It requires a lot of concentration.  So I wonder why we don't see more taunting. It probably is because of the sportsmanship involved. Cycling is different from other sports. Even in competition there is civility and respect. There is respect for the effort. Respect for the preparation and respect for the pain. There is a lot of pain in cycling and therefore a lot of respect between cyclists too.

Cycling is not hell. War is hell. There is no respect or civility in war. You can disagree with the war - or not - but if you're there and involved in it you are there because you are a combatant. A combatant is paid to kill the enemy. A combatant has a duty to kill the enemy. A combatant's training and preparation have seared the conscious and dulled the senses to the point that ending another human life becomes second nature. Instant and automatic. In combat you don't respect the enemy. You don't hold them in high esteem and wish them well. You kill them. As many as you can. Hopefully before they kill you.

Breath. Relax. Aim. Stop. Squeeze. Where is the civility in that? There isn't any. Nor should there be. Every angle and every point of leverage can and should be utilized to gain the advantage in combat. The entire point of enemy engagement is to bring maximum fire power to bear on the enemy and destroy them in an overwhelming way. Does that sound like a place for civility and courtesy? Does that sound like a place for rules? For respect for the enemy's beliefs? For sportsmanship? Hell no it doesn't. And it shouldn't.

Should we worry about making the enemy mad at us? What are they going to do? Kill us? Well yes that's what they're trying to do now isn't it? Are they going to kill us better or kill us more or kill us faster or slower or with more cruelty? Ridiculous thoughts right? Kill means dead. Are they going to kill us deader? Who cares how the enemy feels or what they think. What about our freedom of expression? They are the enemy. We are trying to kill the enemy. The enemy is trying to kill us. It sucks but war is hell.

So unless you have been in combat. Unless you've had the duty to end an enemy's life. Unless you've heard the sound of bullets whizzing by your head as the enemy is trying to kill you. Unless you are a combatant - shut up about combatants. You have no place to say anything. You have no place to judge anything. General William Thornson of the US Army said: "There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion."

General Thornson got that exactly right. Perfectly correct. Not politically correct. If you're not one or the other - shut up. You have no place to say anything. War is hell. If you don't want to kill or be killed stay away from war. It is messy. It is hard. There is pain. Just like cycling but the results are a little more terminal. And there is taunting. There has been taunting since the first ever combatant killed the first ever enemy. War is not a place for civility and sportsmanship. War is a place for warfare and killing and part of that warfare is mental warfare. War is a place for victory. If you don't like taunting stay away from war. War is hell. If you're not a combatant - shut up. If you are a combatant you pick a side. I have picked my side and I just want to say: "Scoreboard. Job well done, Marines. Semper Fi."

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