After World War I, H.L. Mencken wrote, “What men will fight for seems to be worth looking into.” Indeed. With recruiting in the tank, veterans in depression, and a Sino-Russian flotilla projecting power by our 49th state, it might just be wise to ask: What inspires our strong young men — who are the ones among us must suited to physically defend our people — to fight and, if necessary, die for our country?
Military lights such as Gen. George Marshall gave the consensus response: “The soldier’s heart, the soldier’s spirit, the soldier’s soul, are everything…. He is what his home, his religion, his schooling” gave him; the “moral code and ideals” that guide his head and heart in battle, that urge him to protect his loved ones from evil, are what strengthen and steel the soldier’s soul. It was so for David in Israel. It was true with Washington at Valley Forge. It was so with Schwarzkopf in Desert Storm.
Yet, today, by foolish betrayal of the ethics that made America good and great, we have removed such ethics and values and are seeking to replace them with bland, disconnected values-sans-ethics — like: “Be courageous, be strong.” The problem with such “civic” values is that they are untethered from ethics of right and wrong.
The Military Has Been Taken Over by Secular-Age Values
When I was a chaplain in the military, a sergeant recently returned from Iraq approached me, filled with an angst that seemed to be coming from somewhere deep in his soul, and burrowing on his brow, stealing the light from his eyes.
“Chaplain,” he asked me, “The Army lauds courage and patriotism, right? And yet so do our enemies, men that I have shot at, men that I have killed. Not all, but many of our enemies are courageous and love, if not their country, then their tribe, their fatherland. I just don’t get it. I used to think I was doing this for God and country and to protect my family. Even if you weren’t a Christian or of the Jewish faith, you knew the standard, the source. Now, I don’t see that anymore. I don’t see that standard plastered on a poster. It’s not taught. In fact, it is like our institutions are avoiding it. I feel like I don’t know what we are fighting for. I am confused from the inside out. Am I a traitor?” (RELATED: People Like Me Instigated America’s War in 2015: A Former Liberal Speaks Out)
He was serious in his question, and the silence that followed bore witness to this man’s genuine inward struggle. I assured him that he wasn’t a traitor. Instead, he was experiencing the result of a miliary guided not by Judeo-Christian ethical-grounded values but by secular-age license — not freedom, but an illicit license to do as we please. Thus, bright young virtue-signaling leftists ideologues in the Department of Defense, along with the aging retired general officers who appease them, answer the pressing question of “Why fight?” with a mantra of “woke” deconstructionism: Go to war to protect the “right” to express our new Western values. This is why a new Space Force general said she would reconsider sending her troops to states that have said, “No!” to abortion on demand, gender transition surgeries for children, and men invading women’s sports (and locker rooms). That general is marching in step with the cadence of postmodern woke ideology. But she is out of step with the spirit of those who must defend our nation.
The agents of the new morality, lacking a transcendent ethic on which to stand, have inevitably removed honor and nobility from the cause, hollowing out the spirits of those who are ordered to war. Unsurprisingly, these young men return with great existential questions metastasizing into angst and angst into depression and worse. (READ MORE: The Military Academies Have Turned Into Woke Wastelands)
It is time for wiser heads to have greater voices, for military leaders — and, of course, parents, teachers, professors, journalists, and other influencers — to exercise their First Amendment rights and respectfully but plainly speak the truth. We must teach our service members — teach our children — how we know right from wrong. If you can’t say, “We know because the Bible tells us so,” then at least admit that there is a natural law, a sense of the divine in the human soul, that distinguishes us from animals.
The secular age is quickly stripping Western civilization of the protective ozone of the founders’ faith. The harmful rays of deconstruction and postmodernity are now showing signs of moral tumors, erasure of ethical memory, and the epidemic of diseases of the human soul that inevitably follow. Now more than ever, we need to post the truth on the wall of every institution: “There is a God, and He has spoken. This is how we know right from wrong.”
This is the ethical system that produces values that resonate with the spirit of the warrior — truths to live by, and, if necessary, to die for. This is why men fight wars.