Only soldiers really understand war. The people who start them rarely, if ever, fight in them. In this country the Royals are kind of co-opted into Sandhurst but is one of the Blair kids in the army? Anyway, read this, makes a better point than I can.
Written by a scout in the Shadow Recon Platoon of 2-63AR BN
If one repeatedly rubs their hand lightly across a rough surface, the hand will become numb to the sensation and to any sensation of equal or lesser intensity. This holds true for the mind. If one constantly exposes themselves to extreme situations, then all sensations there after of equal or lesser intensity offer no stimulation.
A heroin addict must constantly increase the dose because the mind has grown tolerant to a lower dosage. A cocaine addict must snort more and more to obtain the same rush of endorphins that was felt the first time. This constant increase to obtain a desired effect is met with graduation to a more intense medium or fatality. However, a higher dosage or different medium does not always exist to take the addict to the next level, and even if he were to continue to utilize his current choices, the supply is not always infinite.
When the supply diminishes, one is left numb to all sensation, and hence follows an increasingly desperate situation. For the soldier; war is his drug. His mind grows an addiction to its ravenous stimuli from abnormally stressful situations. His time within this medium is finite, and when it comes to an end, he will find it hard to deal with his unwanted addiction. This is the tragedy of all those who have fallen to the drug of war, myself included.
Life becomes dull and frustrating. Normal situations make one feel a sense of anxiety, of desperation, as if constantly hoping for a sudden horrible rage to sweep across and take normal right down to hell, where things are violent, and gruesome, and stimulating, and the adrenaline flows. Where veins bulge and the mind sweats, and purpose is abundantly clear, to fight, to win, to love the drug of war. But it is no more.
I feel the phantom left behind by this drug milling around in my mind, and I hear its fateful whispers, begging me to take it back to where the drug flows endless. I beat this demon down everyday, and come to grips with my reality. That I am a shelved piece of machinery that must now perform tasks it was never meant to. This is life for those whose purpose was unique but is no more. This is life through the eyes of a weapon of which the machine has no use for anymore. Normal people can sit in front of the television for hours, hypnotized by its glow. I too am hypnotized by the colorful piece of technology, but this only makes me think of things that have come to pass. I become mesmerized and soon feel myself drifting into deep thought, where I reflect on the time when watching a movie on my dusty television was a temporary escape from the madness that surrounded me. I always go back to many times where I would be watching television, and my mind would suddenly be ripped out of its blissful hypnosis.
Some barking doomsayer telling me I had to go exterminate a hoard of insurgents that were armed to the teeth and sure to totally annihilate all in their path if I did not get my ass up from that television and get my war on. It is not only my mind, but also the television itself that can sometimes remind of me of yesteryear.
The news-ticker that flutters at the bottom of the screen is like a scoreboard for the big game going on 3000 miles away. I'll see a familiar name of a town or city, and quickly be sucked through a tunnel, and put right back in the turret of the war machine, cruising through the streets of the before mentioned town. Sometimes my mind gets confused as to why the couch has suddenly been turned into a nylon strap, suspending my body in my armored devil.
I might even be so lucky as to have a scent receptor in my nose short circuit and suddenly send the smell of shit-filled dust into my mind. Those sort of high quality trips are few and far between, but none-the-less, noteworthy experiences. Not even the machine that has been said to be responsible for the degradation of youthful intelligence, the television, can keep my mind far from where it wants to be.
Driving presents its own unique set of experiences. Everyone at one point or another daydreams while cruising down the highway in their vehicles. Perhaps it is the flash card animation of lane markings that streams from an infinitely distant focal point or the gentle hum of the engine and the wind rushing by. But unlike soccer moms wondering if they are forgetting a child, or young teenagers imagining themselves performing the songs on the radio, I find myself imagining those long dusty desert highways that seemed to go on forever.
Those highways who’s beautifully barren surroundings looked so familiar to the photographs taken by some robotic probe on Mars. That foreign planet that seemed so desperately inhospitable. Just as I’ve made peace with the vicious beauty, and temporarily looking through this strange perception, I am suddenly surrounded by the angry inhabitants of this barren world, who want nothing more then to rid their world of these dastardly villains. This is all a hallucination, and I suddenly find myself drifting onto the shoulder of the highway, perspiring slightly and clinching the steering wheel. I find myself completely in shock, and desperately try to rid my mind of these foul memories.
It is not just the constantly resurfacing memories that plague my psyche everyday, but the alienation I feel. My experiences and my grasp on the world separate me from the people around me who are strangers to the hell their fellow human beings are capable of. Who speak of war as if it is their entertainment, as if they are residents of a city who’s team is nearly undefeated on the road.
I am alienated from these people who buy me drinks and praise me for my service to their country. Who thank me for all those dirty Arab bastards that I ghosted in the name of freedom, democracy, basic cable, and free trips to the salad bar. I am not these pseudo patriots who go on to tell me how they would’ve been in the desert with me, if they didn’t have such a dynamite job, or a bad knee, or a promising future at the local university. I hate them for their gross ignorance, as they declare they would kill without hesitation.
I envy them for the fact they unknowingly avoided a completely screwed existence and I loathe the reasoning that those who never went wish they did, and those that have wish they hadn’t. How those who were there that never quenched their urge to kill bullshit themselves silly in order to make up for the sense of inferiority that they have imposed upon themselves and how those who did wish they never had.
I often find myself at the bar, briefly separated from my newly found friends who are strangers to my world, and begin to deeply miss those that shared my experiences. The ones that match me in all categories, the ones whom I could have a conversation with and didn’t try to make up for their regrets by trying to share my experiences that they deem glorious.
I miss the bond we had, "we few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother. Be he ne’er so vile, this day shall gentle his condition, and gentlemen in England now abed shall think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their manhood cheap whilst any speaks, that fought with us…" It only aggravates me further to know that William Shakespeare would have made better company then those surrounding me now.
No matter what I’m doing, or where I am at, nothing can keep my mind from reeling for that drug once more. It cries out in agony and makes me wish it never happened, when in reality, all my mind wants is more, more, more. To return to that time when the skills bestowed upon it were so easily applied to the tasks at hand. There is a sliver of light that breaks through the fog, that being that I wasn’t always this instrument of war. My mind and body was merely transformed to suit the needs of the powers to be.
Before I was the soldier, the killer, the destroyer of worlds; I was innocent, and naïve, and unknowing of the horrors that my fellow humans were capable of. I was proud of the soldier and praised him for every enemy he killed, and I lavished in the thought that I too would do the same. I told myself that I would be there if it weren’t for the fact that I was too young, or still in school, or desperately in love with a girl.
But this picture of the past is only just that, a picture. As a lethal sword was once nothing more then metal in the earth, I was once but a simple boy before I became a soldier. Just as that sword will never return to the earth, I will never again be a simple boy. I can only hope that by voicing how my experiences have changed my life, I can minimize the number of people that have to go through the same, and those that must, do so for a good reason.