Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Foundation of Heroism


Amos 5:14-15 (New Living Translation)

14 “Do what is good and run from evil--that you may live! Then the LORD God Almighty will truly be your helper, just as you have claimed he is. 15Hate evil and love what is good; remodel your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on his people who remain.”




One of the most incredible records of courage from the Vietnam War came on October 22, 1965. PFC Milton Olive, age 19, was on patrol near Phu Cuong. He and some other soldiers from his platoon were pursuing Viet Cong guerillas through some thick brush. In the course of the pursuit one of the enemy turned and threw a hand grenade into the midst of the platoon. What happened next is described in the following manner:

“Olive dashed forward and grabbed the grenade. Yelling “I've got it,” he tucked it into his middle and moved away from the others, falling on the grenade and absorbing the full blast.”

“It was the most incredible display of selfless bravery I ever witnessed,” the platoon commander later told a journalist.”


Milton Olive was, posthumously, awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, citing his incredible courage:

“Through his bravery, unhesitating actions, and complete disregard for his safety, he prevented additional loss of life or injury to the members of his platoon. Pfc. Olive's extraordinary heroism, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.”

A few years after Olive’s death I was stationed in Panama. The war in Vietnam was becoming an every day topic. In the course of one of those daily discussions I mentioned his courageous act. The response I got surprised me, although in retrospect I don’t think it should have. “It was just an instinctive act, nothing more,” another GI said. He was nothing more than a dupe and a fool who acted in keeping with his stupidity.” On hearing that I asked, “What should he have done?” The response was moral relativism at its best. “The damned fool should have run. He owed none of the other men anything.”

I was going to ask another question, but saw that it would be pointless. The, respondents, unlike Milton Olive, felt no sense of obligation or duty to anyone but themselves.

C.S. Lewis, the apostle to the skeptics, addressed this mindset beautifully in “The Case for Christianity.” This is what he had to say about Moral Law and competing instincts:

“Another way of seeing that the Moral law is not simply one of our instincts is this. If two instincts are in conflict, and there is nothing in a creature’s mind except those two instincts, obviously the stronger of the two must win. But at those moments when we are most conscious of the Moral law, it usually seems to be telling us to side with the weaker of the two impulses. You probably want to be safe much more than you want to help a man who is drowning: but the Moral Law tells you to help him all the same. And doesn’t it often tell us to try to make the right impulse stronger than it naturally is? I mean, we often feel it is our duty to stimulate the herd instinct, by waking up our imaginations and arousing our pity and so on, so as to get up enough steam for doing the right thing. But surely we are not acting from instinct when we set about making an instinct stronger than it is? The thing that says to you, “Your herd instinct is asleep. Wake it up,” can’t itself be the herd instinct. The thing that tells you which note on the piano needs to be played louder can’t itself be that note!”

“Here is a third way of looking at it. If the Moral Law was one of our instincts, we ought to be able to point to some one impulse inside us which was always what we call “good,” always in agreement with the rule of right behaviour. But you can’t. There is none of our impulses which the Moral Law won’t sometimes tell us to suppress, and none which it won’t sometimes tell us to encourage. It is a mistake to think that some of our impulses – say mother love or patriotism – are good, and others, like sex or the fighting instinct, are bad. All we mean is that the occasions on which the fighting instinct or the sexual desire need to be restrained are rather more frequent than those for restraining mother love or patriotism. But there are situations in which it is the duty of a married man to encourage his sexual impulse and of a soldier to encourage the fighting instinct. There are also occasions on which a mother’s love for her own children or a man’s love for his country have to be suppressed or they’ll lead to unfairness towards other people’s children or countries. Strictly speaking, there aren’t such things as good and bad impulses. Think once again of a piano. It hasn’t got two kinds of notes on it, the “right” ones and the “wrong” ones. Every single note is right at one time and wrong at another. The Moral Law isn’t any one instinct or any set of instincts: it is something which makes a kind of tune (the tune we call goodness or right conduct) by directing the instincts.”


Casey Sheehan directed his instincts in accord with the Moral Law when he gave his life in the service of freedom on April 4, 2004. Cindy Sheehan, his grieving mother, has, I believe, is directing her instincts in accord with an agenda that serves no cause other than tyranny.

Some food for thought this Sunday morning.

13 comments:

Jay said...

We invade and occupy a country that posed no threat to us...but our president lied and stated there was a grave threat to our nation. 15,000 dead and wounded soldiers. Over a hundred thousand Iraqi civilians slaughtered. A country on the verge of becoming an Islamic state and homebase to fanatical religious terrorism.

What in the hell is so moral about that?


...god save me from your believers

Gone Away said...

"Greater love hath no man..."

dog1net said...

RE: Jay
Perhaps Iraq did not pose any specific threat to us, just as Germany did not pose any specific threat to us during WWII; however, Suddam Hussein did pose a specific threat to us just as Hitler did during his time. For that I am glad we chose to act, for the consequences of not acting would have been far greater. For those in Crawford holding peace signs, I say, "Tell it to Osama bin Laden."
The moral imperative is that in the face of sudden danger we act, not run, or pretend it's not our fight, or that it will work itself out if we leave well enough alone.
It is refreshing to read someone who is not afraid to address the issue of morality, for by doing so, I am given one more piece that helps me understand why we are committed to this war on terrorism.
Scot

James Fletcher Baxter said...

The use of the word, 'instinct,' is improper as a descriptive of any human aspect. It characterizes the animal mechanism for direction in animals. Animals, governed by instinct, are not free to choose as in the human.

Human beings are not animals, thus, lacking instinct, they require mental criteria, principles, laws, and rules to enable successful choice, and produce successful societies and civilization as we know it. Reliance on 'instinct' for human behavior would would result in total failure. Our prisons are full of people who allowed their feelings or 'instincts' to rule in their lives.

Human behavior, when governed by glands and emotions, comes closest to animal behavior and recedes from a successful definitive human experience in freedom.

The "free-riders" in a free and moral society will never understand morality as anything other than restrictive and diminishing. Their other-purchased freedom becomes sheer license of physical self-indulgence and critical of any condemnation of their appetites-in-the-name-of-liberty.

The essential ingredient in the human experience is the presence and use of transcendent principle, criteria, and law, to which the human mind chooses to be loyal, and thus, enables the ability to anticipate consequences prior to choosing. It is called, "Wisdom."

Vision is thus born; the product of standards adult humans cannot even invent.

"Got Criteria?" See Psalm 119:1-176
or would we rather play patty-cake?
Surely, Jay is more than two.

semper fidelis

Christopher Trottier said...

I'll say. I don't know if I'd be able to do the same thing if I was in that guy's position.

jamal said...

Did Casey Sheehan really die for freedom?, I'd say he did not. Though that is not to say he did not think he was fighting for freedom.

The War was based upon a lie. 'Freedom' in actual fact has become a tale of oppression and death for the people of Iraq. So in reality, this man died for nothing, and nothing was achieved by his acts of war, or death. There is nothing 'heroic' about fighting for the lies of a corrupt leader whose support diminishes by the day!

web_loafer said...

Phil, some people will never know the meaning of:
1.sacrifice (perhaps selfishness has a part in this}
2.honor
3.truthbearing
4.decent conversation
5.respect for opinions of others
6.the meaning of pride, in giving the task at hand your all.

#6 pretty much describes you my friend. Thanks for giving so much to the world. I want you to chronicle all of your journey, from start to where you are now.

I, of course will want an autographed copy of that first book.

We both know, Some will never get it, I think the farther people walk away from God, the more callous their heart becomes. Too, bad, it must sadden the creator to see someone take the gift of life He gives freely and walk away from Him.


"and I hope that the rest of your journey is a peaceful one, may you take your own sweet time, Mr. P.O.W. 359." from a song by Darryl Worley

Kyle said...

I have chosen to stand in between here, try and get the meat of it please. Both sides will benefit, truth is truth, we don’t always like to hear a truth that damages our reality,,,, so,,, likely will upset some of you, however if a thinker, and not a talking head who reads others scripts, you might understand the edge of it, enough to start your mental gears operating outside of defensism.

As an "Old Hat" from the Viet Nam Era, I've seen superb Propaganda techniques abound, and are going on now in view of the current phenomenon of the attack on our soil by what is dubbed "Terrorists" by the most remarkable propaganda machine ever in existence, the media. Actually neither side is correct, but mostly the "Side with the terrorists" bunch are the most wrong, never comprehending the gravity of the "Enemies" aims, that being terminating all non Muslims (Those who will not convert). In reality, those who side with the Terrorist aims , terrorist meaning the Religious leaders , and Jehadist bent on the destruction of Christianity, AND all other religion’s besides their own.
Make no mistake, this has been their aim since the middle ages, and only now do they have the power to carry it out, using the blackmail of lowly crude oil to finance it.
You will find them in all levels of government , in every government, around the world.
I can't make you think, you must do that, which I sometimes suspect some who open their mouths have keepers who write their scripts. Be that as it may, what I want to convey is, don't believe the slanted, out of context stories, you heard/hear on the news, as even if truths are thrown in, it becomes a lie as soon as it is maneuvered to make you judge, this understood, it is so easy for them, the Media to alter facts slightly, and collectively to make a benign thing a sensational nasty story.
Have you EVER , with the exception of a political agenda one, heard the Media withdraw a story?, and say or print a retraction except in small print in the back of the paper or a short blurb on air?, I think not, again unless it is a political harangue to darken an opponent of the media’s choice.
With the above understood, why , and how, can a peacenic, non arms bearer for the country, make judgements on those who stand in the way of the Armies of the World?, it is insane to think any country would not be taken over poste haste (“the lie”, for their own good ) as soon as they disband their military.
We are the biggest Boys on the Block, so are the aim of everyone in one way or another to best us. To say a soldiers giving of their lives, who comprehends this need for their homeland, is stupid , or somehow deluded , and is sent to die, belongs in the dark days of Nazism, I would bet, they would love Hitler as he was super charismatic to his people, ( oh, he had a final solution too, same as the Moslem "Extremists" are about to unleash on the world). Once it starts, the sad cowards will hide behind their protectors, however it will depend on just how badly they have damaged their protectors as to how quickly they, their families, and their babies die.
It would be amusing about the “grand plan”, if not in the real World, our world, and might make great reading, however, this is not fiction, and the threat is very real, as once it commences, the benign Muslems have no choice, as they will be embroiled , and will follow the Radicals or die. Even now, the “Nice Muslems have to keep quiet, or face bands of radical extremists who will have no qualms about killing their whole family (Its occurring even in this country, but the Media is suppressing it, ask the black hearted creeps why?) (Also they suppressed a real tragedy during the 9/11 events, never to air, that being a coordinated snatching of young women off the streets of New York, as of to data, no data is available on just how many were “Repatriated”, I wonder how many other related events occurred then?).
I saw it, so did a lot of other “Old Hats” a long time ago during Viet Nam, as the little folks in the black clothes had superb methods for dealing with dissidents, beheading was the milder of the persuasions at times. YOUR defenders understood what the price was to fail, but the descendants of the peacenics even now prevail in many ways, so be aware what we may be in for, they will betray , and then will be betrayed by the extremists , yup, that’s biblical and a prophecy, want to fulfill it? They have already made the rules for engagement, and they have been in place for hundreds of years. Oh, a small foot note , I think it might be the modern Hamas or another of the Moslem extremists groups out of Palestine who visited Viet Nam during that War to receive training in terrorism, those little folks were very, very, good at it.
I say nothing here that cannot be proved in one way or another, but think what you will, you actually have the freedom to call me a liar, just because you wish to, ain’t the US a special place, but it can’t last, you’ll see to that, same as the sustained attack on Christianity by such as the ACLU. Personally, I do NOT agree with ole Georgie Boy on all things, but do like his Cowboy attitude, as it scares the heck out of the bad guys in the world, not like the disgraceful kowtowing fops of the past.
Those of you who call yourself Christians, best read THE BOOK a bit, as we are commanded not to plot sedition, or act it out, to disobey this command written in the Word, well,,,, you know don’cha

Kyle

Lesser_Lumpkin said...

Kyle - I don't agree with everything you said but over all that’s an excellent post. I just wish you had given some references to make it more difficult for you to be labeled a kook so I'll give a couple for you. The references involving Muslims killing all nonmuslims can be found in the Koran in Surahs 5, 2, and 9.

Indeed the reason that most people are never going to understand the nature of our enemy or all the problems in the middle east is because we are religiously illiterate. These are wars of religion folks as well as wars for secular goals and power. Our opponents are spiritually motivated. That is a motivation far stronger than even nationalism. Once you realize this and begin looking at what their religion teaches and what the different political powers are calling for you'll begin putting things into their proper perspective and place.

Bear with me if I'm being a bit vague I have several things I want to brush on each of which I could write several pages about.


First, those conservatives among us. Lets admit that oil plays a part in this war. The worlds supply of cheap oil and gas is getting smaller not larger and China is making major demands on that market. Given what gas prices are doing to our economy it is no surprise that we want to expand our influence in oil rich countries. Yes we are in Iraq to gain an oil rich ally. That having been said we are also in Iraq because there was sufficient reason to believe that Sadam was building and would have weapons of mass destruction. These weapons though they could not threaten us directly would be able to hit our allies. Not to mention once Sadam had the technology it is only a matter of time before he gains the rocket technology that will allow long range rockets that could threaten the united states. At that point what would we do? Don’t be so short sighted. The fact that we did not find them has very little bearing. No country engaged in that activity is going to make it easy to discern that they are doing it and our intel. said they were. There is also some merit to the belief that the arms could have been moved to Syria but the jury remains out on that. Finally Sadam was a brutal ruler who ruled by terror and coercion. No one even dares say that this in untrue. This means that we are in there to bring freedom as well. To provide a better life for people who were being mistreated. Are you saying that the lives of these people are worth less than the lives of some of our soldiers? Are you aware that this is what the Nazis argued with the Jews? They labeled the Jews sub human making their lives worth less than other peoples. We know where that road lead. These reasons for being in Iraq all coexist. They are all true and as a whole they are justifiable. Don’t complain about one if you aren’t going to address the others.

JF Baxter – I see what you are saying and am not in disagreement but honestly I have to ask what do we expect? Our schools teach children that they evolved from lesser animals and then we expect them to not believe that they react on instinct like animals do? What reason do they have to believe that they have any higher calling or that there is even such a thing as destiny?

Sorry to do such a quick job with all of this.

The Lumpy

Anonymous said...

Let's not lose the premise of our illustrious blogger here. He's made an excellent point that no one act or thing is evil or good alone. Unfortunately, the justification for calling an act good lies in the mindset and actions of the actor at the onset, and the perceptions of the experiencer in the end. That leaves the witnesses to hash out whether it was good or evil, and that is where those who choose to march to and mindlessly quote from the drumbeat of another's thoughts, quoting from political party or philosophical dogma need a silence button applied. Only independent, genuinely objective thinkers can/should contribute toward influencing our thoughts on the matter of good, evil or neutral in a meaningful way.

James Fletcher Baxter said...

No one is truly "objective." Either you are devoted to God's truth or you are not. The "independents" are ego-centered and blind with a need for self-justification.

The UnBeliever cannot be blamed for a failure to articulate the superiority of God's way. Believers must speak and exemplify the advantageous Way of the Lord and there is plenty of evidence in the daily news

Yes, the public schools have been taken over by the zealous secular humanists and they do preach their mediocre 'independence' exclusive of the Creator's natural law to the fairy-tale detriment of each generation.

The Judge is coming...make your Choice. Joel 3:14

http://www.choicemaker.net/

Jay said...

Thing is...Germany did pose a threat to us. They wanted to take over the planet and had the military to do it. While Saddam may have wanted to be a emperor in his dreams...he had no means to do anything, he didn't even have military control over two thirds of his own country.

Comparing Bush's BS war to WWII is pathetic and dishoners those who fought in the world war.

I still ask the question of all patriotic conservatives who are convinced that this war is noble and absolutely necessary to the survival of our great nation. Why are you here?

Until you can answer that...you are all either hypocritical liars or cowards.

Choicemaker said...

Unless and until you have done both you are not qualified to judge. You've only done the civilian part...

It is evident that some find it easier to judge than to serve. Much easier... and verbalize fearful verbal transparent verbal humanistic verbal motives. Tsk-tsk. 2

"Patty-cake, patty-cake, baker's man..."