Thursday, 12 November 2009

Few things started it

I am a member of a chain email group thing which is basically a load of mates who kill time at work by talking about stuff. Usually mundane. Usually about some obscure cricket player who plays on the reserve team on the isle of wight or something. Occasionally things get a bit more interesting however and a flurry of emails went flying around concerning a friend of mine from school who joined up to the army at the earliest opportunity and has since been serving our country abroad. This old friend had posted a status update on Facebook about a week ago which I will paste here word for word (apart from his name)...

"...Thinks the amount of Anti-Soldiers groups on facebook is a FUCKING joke i wonder how quick a KILL EVERY FUCKING MUSLIM SHIT CUNT group would get kicked off Facebook! If people dont like the sacrifice our troops are making then GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY COUNTRY ! NO FUCKING MUSLIMS can be trusted as the 5 lads in Afghan have paid the ultimate price ! RIP Lads !"

...Ok. So thats that. On first read its pretty shocking and actually still is. Upon reading this I started to rush through a reply -

"To every person that has served our country - thank you.

B**** you have done something that I could never do. You must have seen things that I would never wish to. I dont know what seeing people that I love die in front of me would do to me because thank fuck its never happened to me.

I fucking love this country. I'd like to say I would die for it but I don't think I could. ... Read more

Dont really know how to respond to your post really, but i feel like I should. I suppose some at home cunt like me who has had a nice warm comfortable life while our boys and girls are over there giving everything should just stay quiet.

I think i can understand where your coming from, even though I know I could never know the dog shit horrible things you've obviously been through.

Suppose its useless saying I think to tar all Muslims -or as your post commenters said "Paki's" or "shit skins" with the same brush is idiotic and small minded. Think your exposure to people from the middle east has been a world away from mine.

Im doing a lot of supposing, thats all I can do. Things are in a shit state of affairs. I don't like racism. I dont like idiotic replies to someones obvious heartfelt - if not rage fueled post. Fuck 5 more lads? makes me angry and Im a civvie.

If I was fighting in a country far from home, fighting to liberate the country and my mates were being killed by inhabitants of that county AND living day to day with the possibility that I might die next - I think It would make me rageful and angry and personally think it would fuck with my head. If i put it like that then I can sympathise with your views that no Muslims can be trusted. I dont agree with that view, or the views of some of your replies but I can understand how angry and hard done by you must feel.

I think your more intelligent then that. I hope its a view that you posted through anger and hate for seeing people you know die and not actually because you think no Muslim or "Paki" or "Shit skin" can be trusted, because frankly thats bollocks.

Don't remember you being that way back in the old school days though mate. Hope your well, and the family. Let me know when your back in chingford and if your around maybe you can put me straight over a drink or something."

as I was about to post I phoned another friend of mine to discuss. What ensued was a heated debate centered mainly on whether one could sympathise with someones views such as the above even though we could never truly know what fighting in a war and seeing your mates die in front of you is like. I argued that it seemed to me that the dehumanisation that you must go through to be able to kill another person would inevitably lead you down a road of "us and them". The ability to kill another person, I assume, Is part of your remit as a soldier at war, to deal with this - so I have been told and read previously - involves dehumanising the enemy as so to be in a position to kill efficiently when the time comes. On top of this, I argued, seeing mates that you serve with being killed on an almost daily basis must further emphasise this gap between "Us and them" and I could understand, emotionally, that that would fuck with my head and somehow further enforce any moronic prejudices that may have been thrown up through the process of being in another country and fighting and having your life threatened and having to deal with the fact that you too need to be able to pull a trigger.

My friend argued with me that we could not possibly sympathise as we have not been through the experience that this soldier friend has. We haven't lost mates on a daily basis and that In this age of facebook, twitter, wikipedia, worldwide news coverage and information on tap that a modern day soldier cannot be exonerated from retaining moronic views such as those in the status update.

I dont think its as simple as that. No matter what information is there I think serving my country at war is a bloody complicated job. The physical stress is nothing compared to the mental. The appropriating your mentality and feelings to the job in hand is not something we are evolved for and Its no wonder someone has the views such as the post above. But yes I don't know what I'm talking about really, I haven't been through it. Imagining it isn't the same as living it and I wish I never have to.

I do think I should try and understand these views, and where they come from otherwise I'm just creating an "Us and them" between me and the people who have those views. Like them or not they are humans too.... obviously.

Besides all that, Well done to everyone who serves this country, I couldn't do it.


  1. You took time to think about your reply to your friend, and seem to employ a spirit of fairness. Someone I know is irrationally afraid of bees. It sounds crazy, but they witnessed their mum being attacked by a hive. I don't have this fear, but I can understand why they do. Our perceptions become our reality. No matter how much I tell my friend to just walk calmly away if they see a bee, its no use-as soon as one comes along the panic sets in. A sort of conditioning has taken place and maybe its the same with your friend. Yes, our troops worldwide could use more thanks than they get.

  2. The status update of your friend made me feel a bit sick?

    I understand (although maybe 'understand' is the wrong word) that while fighting, soldiers most likely really need to have the 'Us and Then' mentality like you said, but don't you think that in The Real World (although which world is more real? hmm!) they should at least try and step out of that way of thinking?

    I feel a little uncomfortable commenting on this as I don't think it's really something I can possibly fully understand.