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July 3rd 2010    Tim Candler

    In the beginning was the word.   Always have enjoyed the idea of it.  As well, after battle, soldiers were unclean for seven days, which meant a period of  isolation devoted to contemplating the awfulness of killing.  Often too, women and children were amongst the slain.  Nor were weapons remote.   Then came the professional soldier.

   Republics quickly lose their citizen army.  This way the powerful may pursue interests the reality of which requires no period of isolation.  No moment when a soldier is unclean.  No moment when he can look at himself and say: "Yes, I have done wrong."   Instead he has to look at himself and say: "Yes, I did my duty".

   It's the nature of the word I suppose.  But when war continues endlessly the professional soldier has no home to go to.   There is no time when he sits and stares at flowers without wondering what his own grave might look like.  Who will be there to remember him.  Whether he died bravely.  And so the word changes.

    A citizen army belongs to its people.  They are uncles and aunts and brothers and sisters.  They quarrel and debate and shout at each other then kiss and hug to make friends again.  Professional soldiers exist apart, so subjects can eat ice cream and wash our hands afterwards.

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