Discipline in War

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

The dictionary defines discipline as: “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.” Discipline is an unsavory, yet necessary character. He is needed in almost every area of life, if only to restrain vices. In ancient Greece, the Spartan considered discipline the most important thing one could possess.
Discipline is important in war. Without discipline there would either be no victories, or they would turn into anarchic affairs at one point or another. If one takes away all discipline in war, one sees mass slaughter of civilians, among other atrocities. Without discipline one truly sees Darwin’s principle played out: “survival of the fittest”, in the ugliest fashion possible among humans. In reality, World War II and Hitler’s regime play a prime example of lack of moral discipline in war. In fiction Sauron in The Lord of the Rings, and President Snow in The Hunger Games. In The Lord of the Rings, Sauron shows no moral discipline in war, anything and everything is “available” from his point of view, to be bent to his own purposes. The way in which his armies behave in war, and in individual battles, demonstrates a lack of discipline. The orcs frequently fight amongst themselves, sometimes slaying their own comrades. When the orcs march on Helm’s Deep, or Minas Tirith, they are more like a vast wave throwing itself recklessly against rock, than an orderly formation. In Collins’ trilogy one sees not only lack of moral discipline in war on the part of one side, but an insatiable appetite for it. The so called “hunger games” are the ultimate lack of discipline in war. A punishment annually for “crimes” so long in the forgotten past that they only have the ambiguous “Dark Times” for a name. Lack of discipline is fatal in all three of the aforementioned case-studies.
Discipline is important in academics. Discipline is related to the word disciple which means: “a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosophy”. If you disciple yourself to somebody you are claiming to attempt to emulate their actions, which by its very nature entails in some cases forcing yourself to do something against the natural bodily instinct. Without discipline of one form or another, education quickly fails. Indeed, without discipline, education can even become harmful. Being too zealous for knowledge is just as much a disease as being to zealous for power. Of either of these, Sauruman is far more guilty of the former than of the latter.
Discipline is important in life, in general. Or perhaps more accurately (and to be more specific), moral choices in life need discipline. Morality–a state of being moral–requires discipline. Without discipline morality is well nigh impossible. Morality and discipline could in a sense be said to be synonyms. Both require in some situations, mere force of will, a resolution to “keep slogging on.” While in some senses, especially physical, one can have discipline with out morality, one cannot have morality without discipline, and, in most cases one does require morality for proper discipline.
Discipline and morality are closely interrelated. When, in The Lord of the Rings, Frodo carries the Ring to Mount Doom, it requires both discipline and morality. When he claims the Ring for his own, it is the result of both of these breaking down; they both bring each other crashing down simultaneously.

Leaders

Tags

, , , ,

What are the essential qualities of a great leader? Lincoln was noted for his integrity, to the point of his life becoming almost a proverb. In the end perhaps three qualities are what make a great leader. They are: loyalty to God, integrity and fortitude.
Loyalty to God is essential, for if a leader does not have the approval of God, then he is doomed to failure, even if he is, say, a president and his entire country approves of him and his actions. Israel, of the Old Testament, when it and its kings turned away from God, suffered, among other consequences: plague, enslavement, attack from foreign countries and the death of their kings. If a leader does not follow God, he will be doomed from the start.
Integrity is essential for a leader. If a leader does not have integrity, if he cannot be trusted, than he certainly cannot be a leader. Look at Hitler. He lied to his country, he lied to other countries, he lied to himself, and it bred dissent and disloyalty from within, which eventually, was probably the very thing that led to the downfall of the Third Reich. Not necessarily resistance and war from other countries, though these certainly sped things along. In the end, because of the fact that he (a) did not follow God and (b) did not have integrity, even if the Allies had not attacked, he and his regime would have eventually been cast down by his own country. Indeed, several attempts were made.
Fortitude is essential. If a leader does not have fortitude, if he does not have courage, if he does not have the courage to fight, physically or otherwise, than, (continuing with the theme of a leader of a country) he will fail. Consider Chamberlain, though he certainly had some amount of courage, (he met and negotiated with Hitler multiple times) he was unable to bring himself to declare war on Nazi Germany until Hitler had already seized the Rhineland, stolen Austria, almost literally with the people’s consent, however dubious, and annexed Czecho-slavakia. A hesitant, doubtful leader does not make a good leader.
If one is not loyal to God, than one cannot expect God’s blessing, whether leader or otherwise. If one does not have integrity than one cannot expect the loyalty of the people one leads. And if one does not have fortitude, the courage to fight, than one will not be able to properly defend the people one leads.

The Inadequacy of the Human Mind

Tags

, , , ,

This post is probably the “amusing” part of this site’s title.

It was something that occurred to me a while back while reading out of chapter one of Genesis. The Bible describes the universe as being void. The Oxford American Dictionary defines void as “completely empty.”

Think about that now for a moment. Void: “completely empty.” Completely empty, as in nothing. No rocks, no trees, no birds, no beasts. But nothing and “completely empty” gets even better. No molecules, no atoms, nothing means that not even the smallest bit of matter exists. Nothing. An absolute lacking of anything. It boggles the human mind. Think about that, it almost hurts the mind if one tries to understand such an absolute lack of anything.

Or another amusing little concept that the human mind just can’t seem to wrap itself around: infinity. Try thinking about an infinite line for a moment. A line that goes on forever and ever and ever and ever… Or better yet try thinking of space as infinite, or the idea that the universe has no end. The mind really starts to protest now when put under such strain.

The human mind simply can’t handle such ideas. Some things, even something as complex as the brain, can’t be understood. At least not in this life…

Treatment of Criminals

Tags

, , , ,

Due to the treatment criminals and thieves receive today, is it any wonder that many, upon being released, frequently end up back in prison again? Inmates get three meals a day, a library, a paying job, (granted small pay, but nonetheless, pay), television and physical activities. How much difference is there between this and their normal lives?
If they have a “paying” job in prison, it should be so that they in turn can repay whomever they have stolen from or injured in anyway. In addition, how many would be likely to want to return to prison if these paying jobs involved hard labor. Certainly as long as we’re paying for them to be in prison, they can be put to work, whether to repay their victims, or repay the state.
Regarding television. Yes, the channels are controlled by the jail staff, but television is something normal, there is not a sense of being punished or disciplined for something, just slightly different living circumstances. Entertainment such as this certainly is not needed. As for libraries, perhaps if these libraries were chosen with care, the ideals and morals of the said inmates could be positively affected. Certainly most reading is going to be more beneficial to their mental state than any television they watch while in prison.
As to physical activities, while certainly necessary, these physical activities certainly could go hand in hand with the labor done, for the state or community. The purpose of being in prison is not a period of time for the said inmates to be watching television, playing basketball, or earning money for their own purposes. The purpose of prison is to demonstrate that the law can not be broken without heavy repercussions. What difference is there really in watching television or playing basketball whether at home or in prison.
Prison or jail, call it what you may, is as much a mentality, a state of mind, as home or country or anything else. Television probably does not promote the state of mind the prison is not a place one should desire to be in. If in prison it should be a natural desire to want to leave, and, to want to correct one’s behavior so that one does not have to go back.

Corruption and Change

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

imagesLet us consider a historical situation. The July 20th attempt on Hitler’s life. Was it right to resist political, social and economical change with such drastic, violent measures? Four other men were killed in the attempt, while, incidentally the blast failed to kill Hitler.
Consider some of the atrocities committed by Hitler and his henchmen. The slaughter of the Jews, something at least some of the conspirators had knowledge of, taking by force most of Europe and a large portion of the Soviet Union, lying repeatedly and pathologically to just about everyone, in his country and other countries. Should the people who viewed this as wrong merely have sat around and turned the other cheek to be slapped again? First of all the conspirators were not acting for their own selfish interests, but rather after considering the ruin and devastation Hitler had brought to Europe. Had it been merely the few hundred involved in the conspiracy being persecuted, perhaps turning the other cheek would have been better.
If the U.S. Government were to become corrupt,  would it be just to forcibly remove the offending leaders from power? It would be legal. The constitution gives the people the right and means to unseat the government should it become too powerful and turn away from the principles it was founded on.
If the whole of the nation, or at a smaller level, the whole of state, was put in jeopardy, in various ways, would it be right to remove the government and rebuild it?
Considering that these aforementioned offending leaders have the power to cause a great amount of harm to the nation, to the people, to the principles the nation is founded on, than certainly the unhappy duty of removing them would have to be performed.

Cultural Superiority

Tags

, , , , ,

In today’s society, the idea that one culture could be superior to another has become and idea met with distaste, and horror. Of course, a country can be superior in military might, or in technology, most would have a hard time debating that, however distasteful the idea might be to them. There are many ways a culture can be superior to another: in its governing system, academic system, and its religion.
Let us examine the first one: governing system. A democratic governing system can be superior to a dictatorial regime. Most would agree that the United States had a form of governing superior to Adolph Hitler’s Third Reich. However, now it has gotten so that the idea that one culture might be superior to another is almost political heresy; either as a result of being fearful of other countries opinions of our own, or a general breakdown of morals and truth. Going along with the previous example, democracy can be superior to national socialism.
Now, can a culture’s academic system can also be superior to another? Consider the United States’ form of schooling (flawed as it is) and compare it to various Islamic countries in the middle-east. Whether or not we’re afraid of treading on their proverbial toes, it would have to be agreed, that at least in some areas, the United States’ form of education is better.
If we consider religion, however horrifying this is to some, it would have to be said that some religions are very much superior to others. For example, Christianity to atheism, look at where atheism, particularly evolutionism has gotten us. Or Christianity to Islam, most would agree that a peaceful policy of “turning the other cheek”, is better that finding a conveniently crowded place to blow yourself up in as a form of “spreading your professed religion.
One culture can be superior to another. It can be superior in its governing system, in its educational system and in its religious system. Of all these, the one that will influence the other two the most is religion. Even an atheist might be forced to agree that Christianity is better than various forms of extremism encouraged by other religions.

Imagery in Narnia

Tags

, , , , , ,

warszawianka_Gdansk_-_coat_of_arms

Let us consider imagery in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. Imagery and allegory are something that prevail through out his Narnian chronicles, in various forms and ways.  Imagery is certainly something Lewis added intentionally, though allegory probably, from Lewis’ own testimony, worked its way in on its own.
Think of Aslan, for example: what is he? He is strong physically, he is large, he is dangerous. He is playful, he is generous, he is merciful. He is something that only God or the divine could be. Aslan is the lion of Judah, in The Magician’s Nephew, he is seen creating Narnia, the world, out of nothing. Aslan is Christ, he sacrifices himself for Edmund and the rest of Narnia. Aslan could be said to be the Spirit, in the sense that he is always working in Narnia, even when he cannot be seen, heard or felt.
Another piece of strong imagery is the albatross, in Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Again this piece of imagery focuses more or less around Aslan. When the Dawn Treader and its crew are trapped in the Dark Island, Lucy spies an albatross breaking through the clouds and mirk, a symbol of hope and light. This albatross then leads them out of their predicament, into the bright world again.
Or there is the lamb, another piece of imagery from Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Towards the end of the book, and towards the edge of the world, Capsian, Edmund, Lucy and Eustace encounter a lamb on an island, by a fire. The said lamb speaks to them and eventually is revealed to be Aslan and reverts to the form of a lion. Of course in the Bible there is the image of Christ as a lamb, a sacrifice, an atonement, an image of meekness and humbleness. It is interesting that Aslan takes the form of a lamb in this scene, for it is in this scene, where it is most obviously alluded to that he is known as Christ in the world of Edmund and Lucy, and the lamb is a symbol directly associated with Christ in that world.
Through out Lewis’ work imagery plays a strong role. This can also be seen in his space trilogy, or his speculative novel, The Great Divorce. Strong imagery and allegory go hand in hand in Lewis’ work, one by design, and the other his Christian faith seeping into the narrative.

Fidelity

Tags

, , , ,

What is fidelity and what does it mean? The dictionary defines fidelity as meaning “to be faithful to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support.” Below I will give examples of each, faithfulness to a person, faithfulness to a cause, and faithfulness to a belief.
First let us consider what faithfulness to a person means. Faithfulness to a person could be a variety of things. Faithfulness could be to a king would be following that said king’s orders without question, regardless of whether they seem like the best course of action at the time. Faithfulness to a person could be faithfulness to a friend, being loyal to that friend, regardless of circumstances of either person involved, the friend or yourself. Another example of fidelity would be faithfulness in marriage, remaining faithful to one’s spouse.
Now let us consider faithfulness to a cause. One of the best examples of this might be Robert E. Lee. Lee was very faithful to Virginia, his home, his cause, to the point, that despite pain it caused him, he turned away from the United States, from an offer to lead the army in war, to secession with his state. He remained faithful to this cause the whole of the war, even while in last year or two his health was failing fast, with frequent pains in his chest. Perhaps it was this faithfulness and honor that caused an enemy officer to call his men to salute as Lee and his men rode by at Apopmatox.
Last of all, let us consider faithfulness to a belief. A belief could be a belief in God, in which case one would stay faithful to God and the belief in God, through whatever trials followed, oppression, mocking, persecution, torture, war. Regardless of the circumstances, no matter how horrible, one would stay faithful to that belief. Consider Paul, despite floggings and other persecution, eventually beheading at the hands of the Romans, he remained faithful in his belief in God and God’s goodness.
Fidelity is faithfulness to something whether or not it is easy, whether or not the circumstances one is in are good or horrible, such as the aforementioned torture and persecution. Fidelity is faithfulness even if the odds are stacked against one’s faith so high that it seems senseless to continue in that faith.

The Importance of the Story

Tags

, , , , , , ,

imagesHow important is the reading of stories? Can fiction have any impact on a single person? Can it have any impact on a society as a whole? Fiction has a very large impact on single persons, perhaps an even larger impact on society as a whole. Consider the effects of fantastical literature compared to say a gritty, realistic work. Or in a slightly different way, a dystopian compared with say an idealistic contemporary romance (in the modern sense of the term).
Let us first consider the story in the form of fantasy, what once would have been called a mediaeval romance. What are the attributes of a fantasy? Generally it is set in another place, either another planet, or a completely different universe and dimension. This helps to combat the idea that plagues modern society that unless you can see something it is not real. It combats the attitude of pessimism and cynicism of today. The idea that there is no hope of better things beyond this world. No hope of a life after this one. Fantasy helps to knock down the materialism of this world.
Consider the effects of a work such as The Lord of the Rings, what impact has The Lord of the Rings had on society? First and perhaps most visibly, it opened the door for more fantasies to be established, adults started reading fairy tales or mediaeval romances again, it paved the way to one of the largest fiction industries in publishing today. Second, it introduced, and subtly implanted in readers minds the idea that good can conquer evil, that there are better things after this world. Most importantly it introduces the idea of hope.
Now consider the form of story “dystopian”. The dictionary describes dystopian as meaning: “an imagined state or place in which everything is bad and unpleasant, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.” Three good examples would be George Orwell’s 1984, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and Suzanne Collins’  The Hunger Games. Now this form of literature can have either a negative or positive effect on the reader. It can function much like a satire, as a sort of warning, saying, “This is what could or will happen if you’re not careful.” It can also provide an exaggerated illustration of either a state society is already in, or one that it is headed towards, particularly, as aforementioned, either an unfavorable political state, or environmental state. The possible negative effect that such literature could of course have is an implanting of a spirit of despair.
Story can indeed have a powerful effect on society. Fantasy and dystopian novels frequently make bestseller lists, so they are obviously read. The ideas presented in stories can have either a positive or negative effect on a person or society. The story is a very powerful thing.

Cultivation of Civilization

Tags

, ,

Without civilization technology would not have advanced as it has (albeit its debatable as to the good of some of that technology), the great works of literature, i.e. Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, would never have been composed or written down. If man had not come together to form a town, or tribe, or city, there would have been relatively little need for writing, there would have been none of the corporate effort needed for construction of technologies or monuments such as the pyramids.
The Greeks considered a couple of things essential to civilization. To illustrate this, let us consider what they considered the antithesis of civilization, the figures from their mythology, the cyclops. Homer says the cyclops did not farm (didn’t sow or reap), nor did they cooperate with each other, each looked out for himself. They had no cities, no institutes or schools, etc. From this we can glean that what the Greeks considered necessary for civilization was agriculture -the sowing and reaping of crops- and institutes or schools, cities and organized religion.
Without a body of people coming together, writing would never have been developed, and epics like the Odyssey or the Epic of Gilgamesh, would never have been written down, if even ever composed.
Without agriculture, no cities would have ever developed, as man would have been forced to move about in pursuit of game.
Civilization develops because of a group of people coming together and farming instead of moving around, because of technologies like the wheel, because of organized learning and religion that take away the necessity of moving about, because of the advantages of not having to fend for one’s self.