Red State Book Notes: A Life Lesson

I came across an interesting section of this weeks reading that I think has a life lesson in it.  in this section, Whittaker Chambers is recounting a story from his youth.  He talks about having an,”…old, wet-eyed female dog,” that used to follow him around when he was running errands.  One day, a schoolmate comes across Whittaker while he is out.  The schoolmate kicks this dog.  Mr. Chambers says, “My first reaction was stunned astonishment that anybody would do such a thing to an animal.”  He sits down and waits for the boy to return.  When he finally does, he beats the boy up.  Chambers says:

The battle ended when I punched his vulnerable nose.  The blood ran down very satisfactorily and he began to blubber.  My anger was gone.  I felt only regret.  I helped him pick up his bundles and tried to comfort him.  He shrugged me off.  As I watched him walk away, still bleeding and crying, I learned the valuable lesson that you may not comfort a man whom necessity forces you to defeat.  We never fought again and we never became friends.  I used to catch him watching me sometimes with a rather puzzled look, for I was the butt of the school. {emphasis mine}

I think this line is very important, and has applications not just to everyday life but also to our nation.  I think many times we spend too much time worrying about how to make our enemies our friends, when we should be worried about defeating our enemies.  Sometimes this applies to the battlefield, and sometimes it applies to real life.  I support our war effort in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but are we fighting either of these battles in the best way possible?  Since World War II, we have been worried about winning the hearts and minds of civilians, sometimes to the exclusion of fighting battles and wars in the most effective way possible.   What has this strategy gotten us?  We have won major battles, and the world is a better place because of the involvement of the United States, I believe this with all my heart.  However, in World War II, we destroyed Germany and Japan and then worried about rebuilding those nations.  We will probably never know if that would have worked better in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan, but I am not sure it would have been a worse strategy.

For Next Week: I am going to take a one week break from the Book Notes Project.  I have to travel out of town, and don’t believe I be able to put much time aside for this.  I hope to cover up to chapter 4 the following week.

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