Throughout the history of mankind; wars have been fought, victories won and battles lost. Oftentimes there is little discussion about morality or even the necessity of war. The end to the countless wars seems just a distant dream, what justifies war? Frankl’s book; Man’s Search for Meaning, talks about the aftereffects of war, the atrocities they bring, and the cause, being “suffering”. People always suffer in one way or another, trauma is trauma and pain is pain, but rarely is it felt the same. Experience hath shown me first hand what this brings from the opposite spectrum, being on the receiving end of the infliction. Sartre explains that the “Ego”, or the “I and Me”, as being two separate things. War is generally derived from “Man’s” ego, generally, we accept it as a necessary evil because the “good” will outweigh the “bad”. What is the benefit to the majority? For me, the majority is those enslaved and brutalized by even their own family. Freedom exists if we fight for it, sometimes you have to even fight for it eternally and change the way that you believe, before what you believe changes you. Fanon would argue differently in my opinion when he stated, “The authority of the state for the individual is the reproduction of the family authority which has fashioned his childhood. The individual assimilates every authority encountered at a later date with parental authority: he perceives the present in terms of the past. As every aspect of human behavior, behavior towards authority is something to be learned.”(Fanon, 2008) It is something that is acquired within yourself, you look to a country as you look towards your own family. A community within a community, and a father figure is something embedded in our society for example here in the United States. The founding Fathers are something that we look up to and inspire to be; “Revolutionaries” are everywhere and if we reproduce the family we can leave the world better than we found it. We can create future generations to be better than we could ever conceive.
Absolute power; corrupts absolutely, and perceived authority has always informed me that war is a necessary evil. Having justified atrocities in the name of liberating innocent people, those who may not have even wanted to be free, but were completely unable to defend themselves in any way. Edmund Burke said; “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to stand and do nothing.” When you learn about people being enslaved similar to how Frankl was enslaved into concentration camps, then you want to do something to help people like that be liberated. You want to go in and fight for their freedom no matter what and at any cost. It was never my duty to question why, it was to do or let others die. War is an utter racket, and I am not sure it can truly be stopped or even prevented. But to sit by and do nothing allows for the individual war to take control and set you into a mindset of inner conflict. For me, I always wanted to help others, whether it be my country or the interest of others. The common factor that many people seem to share from all the countries that I have been to is always one of absolute freedom. War should only be necessary to protect the innocent, to end the spread of Hitlers Nazi Regime throughout Europe and the rest of the world. What does it truly mean to protect the innocent? Who gets to determine what innocent we save? Whom do we sacrifice? That is what war brings; nothing but death, destruction, and chaos, an utter racket. We allow the Nation States like China to practice genocide, North Korea to enslave their people and continually threaten to nuke us for 50+ years, we are at war with invisible enemies in the 21st century. Everything online is deception and all war is espionage according to Sun Tzu, so the art of war has now transpired to digital warfare where enemies are everywhere and nowhere. War is an overwhelming amount of suffering, usually innocent women, children, the elderly, people unable to defend themselves because of their circumstances. They need to be defended from a fight they never asked for, and there has to be those willing to bring the fight to their front door and defeat them in their land, so they never dare to bring it anywhere my children are. That is why I stood and still stand, I am grateful so many people are still able to defend the idea of freedom. That is all it is, an idea of self-liberation, one of absolute freedom.
Frankl said in his book Man’s Search for Meaning; that we must maintain discipline through suffering, in a more literal sense we have to find the discipline within ourselves to endure the suffering as it inflicts itself upon us and casts us into those pits of hell. That undaunting self misery of hopelessness, the ones you feel when you want to give up. Even while in a concentration camp Victor was able to maintain the mindset he did, he had discipline while he suffered. Writing; “Despite all the enforced physical and mental primitiveness of the line in a concentration camp, spiritual life could deepen.”( Frankl) Spiritualism is something that is derived from within and often found on the battlefields in the most unsuspecting times. Seeking deep inside myself now I can feel what Frankl meant when he said those, a concentration camp is found in many things and could even be found in that of Religion, being of an organization; found within a building. With some metaphysical meaning of hope, portrayed to the believer they are eternally bound in an inner dialogue of what could be perceived as an inner hell. So finding spirituality in a time of war is to see morality, and to do things ethically to later be portrayed as something different. “What is thought-provoking, what gives us to think, is then not anything that we determine, not anything that only we are instituting, only we are proposing. According to our assertion, what of itself gives us most to think about, what is most thought-provoking, is this – that we are still not thinking.”(Heidegger & Krell, 2008) Makes you think about thinking as Heidegger puts it, and so many times people speak on war without having experienced it first hand. They are so quick to discredit anyone that has a perspective of experience, war is sometimes necessary if you think of people like Frankl and understand the desire to liberate another when you know yourself capable. It is easy to detest war, with the dichotomy of spirituality and individual morality, you try to do what is ethical for those around you. War is primitive in nature of being and of mental endurance as Frankl points “mental and physical primitiveness” all systems of control and overall collapsing of the inner soul; similar to what religion brings. Ideologies could be considered primitive everything except, “The essence of truth is freedom.”(Heidegger & Krell, 2008) The truth of what we do and why we do it, and those who suffer through it. Freedom from suffering comes from the understanding that sometimes you have to suffer the test of time. Frankl saw an end to it, and many people have philosophies about it, time that is.
Can we ever justify war as a whole? Or is it done more individually? Wars fought for the perceived betterment of mankind and justifying the atrocities they bring collectively. The United Nations established protocols called the Geneva Conventions, which are the articles outlining the overall barbary allowed for war. Containing guidelines governing the way “we” fight a war, being part of the United Nations, any member state of the alliance has to abide by these protocols or face being charged with crimes against humanity. They were set up after World War 2 when Hitler laid waste to the once civilized western world of Europe. Justifying the individual actions is what we do already and usually individually. We rationalize our way of thinking and vindicate ourselves of any persecution brought on by others by rejecting their ideologies, even within ourselves. Trying to rationalize it as the betterment for all mankind. Frankl points out when he describes the Capos, men are capable of horrible things. Still stating; “We were grateful for the smallest of mercies.”(Frankl) The Third Geneva Conventions apply to prisoners of war, because of the barbarity the Nazis brought to the people they genocided. Reflecting on war, the reasons I went, still feeling justified. Ultimately believing we were there to help end the suffering, specifically of children. I feel like we played a side in helping liberate them of the ideology of control. It truly is a double-edged sword, and war is a racket. Just like General Smedley Butler said in his book; “WAR is a racket. It always has been.”(Butler, 1935) Within the Geneva Conventions; “represents the fourth updated version of the Geneva Convention on the wounded and sick following those adopted in 1864, 1906, and 1929. It contains 64 articles. These protect the wounded and sick, but also for medical and religious personnel, medical units, and medical transports. The Convention also recognizes the distinctive emblems. It has two annexes containing a draft agreement relating to hospital zones and a model identity card for medical and religious personnel.” (1949) This shows you the guidelines that the Geneva conventions came up with after World War 2 in order to prevent another Haulocaust from happening again. “The basic characteristic of current psychological research seems to consist in exhausting every possibility. But we should not lose sight of reality.” (Fanon) Here is how we try to justify the Nature of war using history to rationalize suffering, if we could learn from history then why do we repeat it? War has some principles now; “It requires humane treatment for all persons in enemy hands, without any adverse distinction.”(1949) According to the Geneva Conventions if we follow them and our intentions are moral. Have we lost sight of reality? A common morality is often lost amongst those who seek rationality through brutality. The Geneva Conventions protect against unnecessary suffering, all war is deception according to Sun Tzu and military training. However, when do we deceive those who are willing to fight for what seems to be a just cause? During the war I saw, our current Presidential administration of that time, told the people of the village we invaded, we would not use bombs. My job was mortars, those are bombs, regardless of deception, I did not join to be lied to. Fanon points out that “we should not lose sight of reality.” But what is reality? What I see is not what others perceive and I think that is what Frankl means when he talks about concentration camps. That is when you see the barbarity of war and the human potential for evil is truly revealed. It takes violence to stop violence, to liberate those persecuted by violence takes a greater force of violence. Superior violence creates ultimate suffering. Very seldom do we go to war without “just cause?” In the book Revolutionary Management, John Adams wrote in his diary December 17th, 1773; “The people should never rise without doing something to be remembered, something notable and striking.”(Adams, 1773) I will continue to justify the necessity of war to end the intentional and deliberate suffering inflicted upon those unable to fight for themselves, to stand for those unwilling, and to face adversity head-on without recourse, or personal regret. The burden carried is remorse seldom felt by those who have never experienced war, we have to fight for ourselves and what we believe in as individuals. There are real barbarians within this world, even in the 21st-century people are willing to enslave and inflict suffering upon others. I have heard stories from the ‘Chai Boys’ of Afghanistan known as also as Bacha Bazi, who told me of the atrocities sometimes brought on by members of their own family. I believe these to be the untold stories of the true morality of individuals and the cause of some wars. To stop the infliction of suffering upon innocent people, it takes people willing to fight against such barbarism. If we as individuals abide by guidelines laid out in things such as the Geneva Conventions I believe that we can justify the atrocities that war brings. Especially if we have a moral conscience and ethical decisions in our intentions. To liberate people of their suffering like Fanon or Frankl, from ruthless totalitarianism. I believe this to be why someone like Fanon would enlist in the Free French Army, choosing to fight in World War 2. He saw firsthand the true potential of the human potential, he felt compelled to fight against it, to liberate those inflicted by it. Not to indoctrinate, but liberate the individual of the enslavement of our minds. Enslavement of the mind is something everyone feels at some point or another, liberating ourselves daily and praying to an ominous being, or whatever deity brings us individual comfort. But the true nature of war is something I hope to always explore more and more as life progresses.
Frankl understood the power of spirituality and tried to show that through his teachings, he found meaning in suffering. Fanon tried to educate his fellow man on how to liberate themselves from colonization, but probably only saw the world from a negative viewpoint. At times I have wondered if justifying things as war only brings further war, at least war within ourselves as we try to understand the things we think and feel. It would make me “feel” better if it would make me sleep through the night easier, which it never has. All I found is discipline through my suffering and the willingness to endure it. That is what Frankl is talking about when he describes life in a concentration camp, at least from my perspective we have to endure the suffering to get through life and fully see it for what it is. Which is beautiful if we create it to be that way. So I think war can be justified if our intentions are pure, the information is accurate and the cause is just. War seems to only benefit the few and if we can use Fanon and Frankl to outline the individual suffering that is often lost, then maybe we can see who the free truly are. I am not sure war can be justified, except for anywhere but inside of the individual that knows that his intentions were pure.
Fanon, F., Markmann, C. L., & Gilroy, P. (2008). Black skin, white masks. New York: Grove Press.
Frankl, V. E., Lasch, I., Kushner, H. S., & Wnislade, W. J. (2015). Man’s search for meaning. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
The Geneva conventions of 1949 and their additional protocols. (2020, November 30). Retrieved April 15, 2021, from https://www.icrc.org/en/document/geneva-conventions-1949-additional-protocols
Axelrod, A. (2008). Revolutionary management John Adamy on Leadership. Guilford, Conn: LP.
Heidegger, M., & Krell, D. F. (2008). Basic writings: From Being and time (1927) to The task of thinking (1964). New York: Harper Perennial Modern Thought.
BUTLER, S. D. (2018). WAR IS A RACKET: Original edition. DAUPHIN PUBLICATIONS.