Bowe Bergdahl, the VFW, and Carl Mease; different responses to similar situations
In the title’s analogy, the common denominator of the three names is that each represents a group of people who have experienced war as a U.S. soldier. Yet, in this writer’s opinion, each represented group had a different response to their experiences, which affected their future life choices and viewpoints.
All three groups saw the horrors of war, man’s inhumanity to man, and the blurred lines between who and what is good and evil. Bowe and Carl (this writer) represent the disappointed and disillusioned who did not end up following the approved patriotic response. The VFW group, which may also have had their time of disappointment and disillusionment, represents the much larger group, who regardless of what they saw or thought at the time, emerge with a classic definition and lifestyle of a patriotic American.
Narrowing the analogy down, let’s suppose all three group categories were raised within the largest societal promoter of foreign wars – evangelical or fundamental Christians. All were raised on the “just war tradition”, which tends to elevate soldiers to the status of missionaries, and that fighting in a war against our nation’s declared enemies is virtuous and even a service to God.
Now take these three, whose parents taught them the ways of the Lord, sheltered them from the ways of the world as much as possible; and then they are thrust into a war zone, where instead of preaching life and reconciliation, they are spreading death and destruction in a kill or be killed situation. To those who desire to be like Jesus and walk in His steps, this naturally brings on a time of questioning and confusion in regards to the Lord Jesus’ commands to love enemies, and bless those who persecute, coupled with His words that those who love Him obey His commands.
As they all wrestle with the glaring hypocrisy they were taught vs. the reality of what war really is, their internal spiritual conflict can cause PTSD, desertion, and even drive to suicide. The VFW group emerges with the same standards they were taught. The Bowe group may reject Christ altogether or embrace other religions. The Carl group takes Jesus’ words seriously and literally, rejects the hypocrisy as heresy, repents, calls on the name of the Lord Jesus, and is set free.