Bennett's Blog

The power of the military - what if it was used for good?

Bennett R. Coles | September 15, 2010

Having lived and worked in both civilian and military settings, I have really begun to understand what sets the military apart from the rest of society. The sense of purpose, the communal identity, the unquestioned assumption that everyone is working for everyone else's best interests - it's almost incomprehensible to those who have never been a part of it. And the result is an ability to accomplish seemingly-impossible tasks again and again. Unfortunately, the most impossible and incredible successes of any military usually involve destruction and death. And usually on a massive scale. There's the rub.

Veterans talk about how when in combat they've never been more scared, but at the same time they've never felt more alive. The rush, the sheer excitement, the knowledge that your very life is at stake, has the ability to push human beings far beyond what they would ever be capable of in normal life - couple this with the discipline, purpose and honour instilled in most modern militaries, and you have a recipe for greatness. So why can't we use our militaries to solve poverty, or save the environment, or any number of other great causes?

Unfortunately, in my humble opinion, as great as all those causes are, none of them have the ability to ignite the inner fire the way war does. I'm not saying this is a good thing - it's more a sad irony that the very best traits in humanity - courage, self-sacrifice, determination - are most often brought out when we're trying to kill each other. Maybe colonizing another planet would come close to creating that success-or-death kind of drive, but for now we're just working on safe, old Earth.

If anyone has an idea of how we could make the development of economically-viable alternative energy methods as high-stakes as combat, I'm all ears.

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