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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently in Literature class, my teacher brought up an interesting question based on a quote form the movie, 'Casualties of War'.

“Everybody’s acting like we can do anything and it don’t matter what we do. Maybe we gotta’ be extra careful because maybe it matters more than we even know”

The questions raised were; do our actions actually matter in times of war? Do the actions soldiers take really matter in times of war? Should we even bother taking any action at all? How much do the actions of the soldiers actually matter, when what they are supposed to do is decided by someone higher up in the 'food chain'?

I heard a lot of different responses in class to the above questions, and I'd like to hear what others have to say. I know its a heavy topic but I really don't have anyone else to discuss it with. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I like to believe that our actions do matter, because if they didn't what is the purpose of life. I've been told it's a bit naive to think like that, and some argue about determinism.

Having studied a little Psychology I know there's the valid argument about the agentic shift.

Regardless, I'd really like to hear other people's opinions.
 

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When you say "we," do you mean we as individuals, or we as a society/country?

If "we" are individuals, I'd also like to think our actions matter. But since there are 7 billion of us, and we are all trying to matter in different ways, I'm not sure how much influence one person can have. Despite that, I've been considering how I can use my skills, along with "the system," to make a difference. For example, if I were a teacher, I could teach people about what happens in other parts of the world.

If "we" are a society or a nation, we need to be very, very careful about how we act. Many times, throughout history, a nation has done something "to help people," but the truth was that it was helping itself, and it made the overall situation worse. I think if you are going to fight a war, you better be damn sure that war is going to do some good. If risking the lives of men and women won't change the situation, or if it will make things worse, then we damn well shouldn't bother to take action.

As for the actions of individual soldiers, you may be interesting in watching the movie Joyeux Noel or looking up the Christmas Truce that occurred during World War I.
 

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IMHO- everything matters, even nothing. Every second of every life matters, no matter who one is or what scenario they find themselves in.

Those who find themselves in war, are given choices while participating in extraordinary settings, probably being tested on their response to a given situation (some believe in karma) so yes, what happens is important. Hehe... then the soldiers live with what did or didn't matter, might get PTSD, pretty bad stuff I hear.
 

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From a soldier's perspective, it's a no brainer. What we do reflects upon who we are, what we value, and how able we are to react to a given situation.

An ungodly amount of time is spent on briefings/training over ethics, rules of lawful engagement, culture, and carried out to redundancy. Trust me, I've went through countless cups of coffee to make it through a snoozefest monotone speech when all I want to do is carry out my mission in the best way possible.

I've always cringed when somebody said, "fuggit, what I do doesn't matter." Au contraire monfraire, what you do does matter, even if the consequences aren't immediately apparent. War isn't chaotic, even from a tactical standpoint, there are countless patterns in play throwing out ripples that will reach out to every corner of the world it can reach. That kid in the village asking for a biscuit or pen could someday grow up to be my enemy because some idiot soldier had to be a dick, shit pisses me off to such a degree that as a Sergeant I'll smoke his balls off when we get off mission if I catch them in the act.

Bagh I'm getting off track, on point, I personally believe that in times of urgency our actions matter more than at any other time, they are our defining moments. If we do or don't take action could mean the difference between life or death for somebody. How much do they matter in the long run? Hard to gauge, I sincerely hope that what I do has a positive effect. I didn't come here to be shortchanged, but it's hard to know for sure until years down the road. Even though somebody else may set the policy and direction of strategy, it's still the soldiers on ground that will have to carry that policy out in through their actions. It adds up.....pretty quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you to all of you for responding; I'm always excited to hear other people's take on a question, it really helps to broaden my own understanding.
 

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Recently in Literature class, my teacher brought up an interesting question based on a quote form the movie, 'Casualties of War'.

“Everybody’s acting like we can do anything and it don’t matter what we do. Maybe we gotta’ be extra careful because maybe it matters more than we even know”

The questions raised were; do our actions actually matter in times of war? Do the actions soldiers take really matter in times of war? Should we even bother taking any action at all? How much do the actions of the soldiers actually matter, when what they are supposed to do is decided by someone higher up in the 'food chain'?

I heard a lot of different responses in class to the above questions, and I'd like to hear what others have to say. I know its a heavy topic but I really don't have anyone else to discuss it with. :)
Their actions matter. The attitude of "it doesn't matter what I do" is extremely dangerous. I think that often this attitude is created by the perception that "if I don't do it, then someone else will", but if you follow this through to its logical conclusion it can be used to justify some horrible things. It would mean for example, that it would be ok to hurt a child "if someone else was going to do it anyway". It's just people thinking they have been freed from their moral responsibility, but they are responsible for their actions and their actions undoubtedly have an effect on their victims.
 

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When there's a war, the leaders exploit nationalism in order to make someone else kill the people they don't like. If war broke out in USA and every single American were killed, the last to be killed would be the president (who started the war) and the first to be killed would be someone who's completely innocent. A soldier is as much a weapon as he's a piece of armor protecting his superiors.

But regarding the topic, one soldier can't do anything without the other soldiers. But with the other soldiers there, he could still choose to do nothing. Then he would be killed. And on the grander scale, he wouldn't have mattered at all. What matters is what decisions the majority of the soldiers make; if 90% percent of them decided to do nothing and get killed, the war would be lost. If they decide to give it their best, they have a chance of winning but the rest comes down to the opposing army; how many they are, how many of them decides to give it their best and how skilled they are in comparison.

Practically speaking, it's the generals and ranking officers who make the difference, as they decide the best ways to team up the soldiers and the best ways to train them; if a soldier was in his own one-man team, he would have lesser chance of survival than if he were with others. If, on the other hand, he was in a team of thousands of people, well, guess where the enemy would drop their first bomb. The only way a soldier could have influence would be if anarchy broke out, in which case the soldiers would probably end up killing each other.
 
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