War Essay

925 WordsNov 24, 20084 Pages
To research the psychological consequence of human combat, one must start by accepting the constructive results of such combat. Throughout history these results have been embellished in order to maintain the moral of soldiers. To honor the life of the fallen and rationalize their deaths, to augment and glorify political leaders and military commanders, and to manipulate populations into supporting war and sending their sons to their deaths. But the fact that these positive aspects have been manipulated and exploited does not deny their existence. There is a reason for the powerful attraction of combat over the centuries, and there is no value in going from the dysfunctional extreme of glorifying war to the equally dysfunctional extreme of denying its attraction. The ability to recognize and confront danger, the powerful group bonding that occurs in times of stress, the awe-inspiring spectacle of a nation focused and aligned to achieve a single aim, selfless dedication to abstract concepts and goals, and the ability to overcome the powerful imperatives of the survival instinct and willingly die for others: these common aspects of war represent both important survival traits and a potentially positive comment on basic human nature. But if war does have a capacity for reflecting some usually hidden, positive aspects of humanity, it irrefutably does so at a great and tragic cost. One obvious and tragic price of war is the toll of death and destruction. But there is an additional cost, a psychological cost borne by the survivors of combat, and a full understanding of this cost has been too long repressed by a legacy of self-deception and intentional misrepresentation. After peeling away this "legacy of lies" that has perpetuated and glorified warfare there is no escaping the conclusion that combat, and the killing that lies at the heart of combat, is an

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