When I retired from the international corporate world and moved back West for fresh air and wide open spaces, I found that some military vets from the Vietnam era and forward still needed counseling and support. With my degree in counseling I volunteered to establish a Vet to Vet Peer Group for PTSD. Meeting bi-weekly, the group works at coping with PTSD symptoms. I facilitate the group since I also served in combat in Vietnam and understand the traumatic experiences of these vets first hand. The older I get the less tolerant I am about the idea of going to war without a clear and rational approach and objective. It's too easy to start war – it's harder to resolve conflict peacefully. Over 58,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War and that is a tragedy. To me the use of the term war has become too trite and desensitizes the real meaning: per the dictionary war means armed hostility between nations and should bring serious concern by the citizens of those nations since lives and property are at risk. Besides the financial costs, there are human costs in deaths and wounded – both physically and mentally. There are too many war hawk politicians who have never served a day in the military or in combat. For them war is an extension of their hubris – as long as they stay safely home.
When candidates for public offices simply run on the basis of labels and no structured position, and the voters buy into that posturing then we have lazy politicians and lazy voters. What does it mean to say "I am a conservative and the other guy is liberal"? Is that enough to run on and get elected? In Webster's dictionary neither definition is negative. There are positives to both philosophies. But when I vote I want to know what a candidate wants to accomplish succinctly and truthfully, not simplistic ideological labels. A conservative Republican is no better than a liberal Democrat, but it is the prgamatism of the elected official that counts: how will he or she govern? Will there be honest and ethical concerns for the constituents? The voters need to hold politicians accountable for doing the proper job for the good of our society.
It was publsihed in the July 2011 issue of Idaho Magazine.