Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Humans are the only animals on the planet that kill each other for personal gain. In wars, the casualty count is exceedingly high, and despite its seemingly superfluous nature, is just part of life. Most wars have been started over religion, but more recently have been caused by nothing more than faulty intelligence information and greed (see: Operation Iraqi Freedom, War Against Terrorism).

Just to put this in perspective, the table at the bottom houses statistics from the 20th century regarding war. We truly are a vicious kind.

Now imagine all of the people just like Tillman who participated in all of those skirmishes. Most participated for the same reason Tillman presumably did: to honor his country. Are they all heroes? No, only the Americans, right? Americans rule!

As of the fiscal year 2004, there were 485,500 soldiers on active duty in the United States Army. 591,000 more were in reserve. Certainly a half-million soldiers in the Army alone cannot all be heroes just because they risk their lives on a daily basis.

Tillman, despite "honoring his country" and risking his life, is not a hero. Not when he contributes to the atrocity that is killing another human being, be it for revenge or not. The United States military forces are equipped with the best tools and equipment in the world, and are using high-powered, long-range weapons against some of the world's poorest people, who, more often than not, have to resort to using their body as a weapon to defend their people and land, which we have no right invading.

Perhaps if the United States was actually threatened in any way (his time of death was about three years removed from the 9/11 attacks), then his involvement in the United States Army could be seen as "defending the nation," but the United States wrongly removed a dictator from a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 (Iraq's Saddam Hussein) and is wrongly trying to stamp democracy on the rest of the world with the heel of its boot a la Communists during the Red Scare. Tillman was only a pawn of the government. Considering he was critical of the Bush adminsitration, it makes it all the more baffling that he would choose to risk his life for ideals he does not believe in.

Tillman was unfortunately killed well before his time. He was brave, yes, but not a hero. Some will claim that Americans would not have the freedoms we have today if it weren't for people like Tillman risking their life overseas. Wrong. Even if the United States armed forces remained neutral following the 9/11 attacks, the country was not in any danger of being taken over by hostile parties. Tillman's actions in Afghanistan helped no one but the criminal Bush administration, and no one else, not even those Iraqis we "freed".

The term 'hero' is administered much too liberally these days. Tillman was brave, and he honored his country, but he's not a hero. As a critic of the Bush administration, he knew full well what he was getting into. Poor judgment isn't a criteria to be met to be a hero, is it? Is being one of thousands of United States Army men and women who die every year grounds for being a hero? A hero is supposed to be someone out of the ordinary, not part of the pack.

A true hero would be someone who decides not to fight fire with fire; someone who takes the time to think things through before making a world-changing decision. The reason why 9/11 happened was because the terrorists did not appreciate the American presence in their land. Osama bin Laden, the alleged ringleader of the 9/11 attacks and head of Al-Qaeda, had openly aired his grievances with the American government, which should have given them more than enough clues to decide to respect their decision and pull out. A true hero would aim for world peace, rather than contributing to the casualty figures.

War will be the end of mankind. As Albert Einstein once said, "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." Tillman only contributed to the decline of mankind. Clap for this hero!