Essay on War and Violence–Honors Program Essay

The topic of war and violence is very delicate.  Many people will say they do not like the idea of war, but it is a necessary thing.  As a people, we have the right to protect ourselves.  But where is the line drawn?  Who dictates when, where, and for how long we should go to war? What about violence? In the world, there are many forms of violence other than sending troops with guns to fight another country’s troops and guns.  We have bullying, robberies, rape, and anything else that physically or mentally harms another human being.
Stanley Hauerwas said after September 11, 2001,  “America is a country that lives off the moral capital of our wars. War names the time we send the youth to kill and die (maybe) in an effort to assure ourselves the lives we lead are worthy of such sacrifices.” America is extremely proud of our military and the sacrifices they make.  This in itself is not a bad thing, but war seems to be idolized. When violent acts are put on pedestals and become more important than living, this becomes a problem.
America responded to the 9/11 attack by sending soldiers overseas for the self-defense of our country.  But after eleven years, there is no point in maintaining that station.  We should have left the Middle East a long time ago because America’s self defense is not a problem any more.  With any form of retaliation, it is inevitable that innocent people will be hurt.  Though it is a long quote, the words from the 1995 film The American President are very relevant to this subject, “…Somewhere in Libya right now, a janitor’s working the night shift at Libyan Intelligence headquarters…He’s just going about his job, because he has no idea that about an hour ago I gave an order to have him killed. You’ve just seen me do the least presidential thing I do.”  Michael Douglas’s character sees the consequences of retaliation.  He knows innocent people are going to die because of his choice to defend the country.  Sometimes this is a necessary risk.  Is it worth the life of one person or small group to save many more people?
On a smaller scale, the issue of violence is the root of what war is.  Young children are exposed to violent images through television, video games, comic books, home lives, or through other children. While knowing what violence is does not instantly mean the child will grow up to be an angry adult, but they must be taught how to handle violence if they are to control it.  This is what is wrong with the world. Many young people are brought up surrounded by violence as a natural thing and have no moral compass towards it. This leads to bullying in school, other public places, or on the internet.  This leads to bigger crimes like robberies, manslaughter, rape, etc.  How easy would it be to teach children how to handle anger and control it before it turns violent? As they become adults it would benefit the world to have the knowledge of self-restraint as opposed to solving every strife with pain.
In Patrick Henry’s famous “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech from 1775, he remarks that to be free we must fight.  We cannot be handed our freedom as a country without working for it. This goes with anything.  Sometimes we must use self defense in order to free ourselves from a situation, we go to war to save our country’s rights.  If we do this, we have to realize when to retreat, when to pull out our troops.  When war or violence is no longer doing any good, we have to know when enough is enough. 


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