An English In Kentucky


















Tuesday May 8th 2012    Tim Candler

       In the Western World, the idea of suicide as an expression of a Free Will was one adopted by French theorists. These were thinkers who survived the second World War, and who I like to think,  may have heard rumors of the 1917 mutinies of French and British Soldiers, from broken down and tumbled men who did not march on Poppy Days and instead asked why remember.  It was in the summer of 1917, just as the Doughboys arrived to take part in the slaughter. How many British and French mutineers there were and how many of them were shot, might be known in 2017, one hundred years after the event.  Which is when law takes the hat off uncomfortable secrets.

      Suicide for Christian believers, remains sinful, a direct path to hell.  For others, it is thought of as an act of cowardice, or mental derangement, or momentary lapse in pursuit of purpose, or some other frailty such as selfishness.  For theorists, in their lecture halls, negative attitudes in the wider society toward an individual's choosing to put an end to it all, demonstrates the working of those invisible chains that cause a social cohesion, and which sometimes stop making sense. Then on it goes through contribution through useful work and surrender, into the defining of success until you come away with an idea of  "What Free Will Should Be,"  and safe to say that "What Free Will Should Be" has little connection to a Will that is unconstrained by the chains in the word normal and in a general understanding of the word free.. 

     Woodrow Wilson, on April the Second 1917, asked the Congress of the United States, to declare War on Germany so that the world might be made safe again for Democracy. Doughboys were conscripted men.  And as with the English, and the French three years earlier, many cheered at the prospect of glory days, honor and service to a mighty and cohesive cause.  In the USA, those designated as Objectors to the call of their country were sentenced to twenty years in Leavenworth.  Of those claiming Conscientious Objection and who were considered insincere by tribunal, seventeen were sentenced to death, one hundred and forty or so to life in prison, and three hundred and forty odd were dispatched to labor camps. Martyrs, I guess.

       Today, the US military dislikes conscription. The citizen army has become the professional army, an enlisted man a thing of the past.  And today, here in the United States, eighteen veterans of recent military service will probably kill themselves. That's three quarters of an ex-soldier, every hour, which means over six thousand volunteers a year.  And too easy to call these fallen soldiers damaged, or deranged, or improperly medicated. 

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