Shared Sacrifice

Saw an interesting interview this morning on Morning Joe with NY Times columnist Bob Herbert about his recent column titled We Owe the Troops an Exit. Here is the way that Herbert ends the piece:
One of the reasons we’re in this state of nonstop warfare is the fact that so few Americans have had any personal stake in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is no draft and no direct financial hardship resulting from the wars. So we keep shipping other people’s children off to combat as if they were some sort of commodity, like coal or wheat, with no real regard for the terrible price so many have to pay, physically and psychologically.

Not only is this tragic, it is profoundly disrespectful. These are real men and women, courageous and mostly uncomplaining human beings, that we are sending into the war zones, and we owe them our most careful attention. Above all, we owe them an end to two wars that have gone on much too long.
I may not agree with everything in Herbert's column but I do agree with the idea that there is no shared sacrifice in these wars.. sadly our troops and their families bear the brunt of these wars. Truthfully, the Vietnam War was ended because of the backlash against the national draft that somewhat forced a shared sacrifice in that war.

I think that this is true in many issues of life - Americans, and people in general, do not always want shared sacrifice. We may feel sorry for people who have lost their jobs but we are not very happy when someone asks us to sacrifice our own comfort to help them out. Many times we complain about welfare programs not understanding why folks cannot just pull themselves up by their bootstraps. About that, I thought that this Facebook comment on bootstraps from my friend Brian was insightful:
"What is wrong with the pull yourself up by your own bootstraps mentality is that no man is an island. We are all dependent on each other. We, who are successful didn't get here on our own. The United States is a wonderful land of opportunity and we get to partake of the fruits of others labor that has provided us with education, a healthcare system, etc. that allows us the opportunity to thrive.

I don't have an "someone owe me something" mentality, so I'm not here to defend that. What I do have is an "I owe something back" mentality."
I liked the idea that "I owe something back".. that I have an obligation to help others in this generation, and the next, because people from this, and previous, generations have helped me. In a sense the shared sacrifices of previous generations have provided opportunities that we now currently enjoy. Maybe that it the whole point?

Can you think of sacrifices that others have shared to enable your current success?


  1. One thing to think about when you consider shared sacrifice is the great unhealed wound this nation suffered as a result of Vietnam. I do like an all volunteer force and had wanted to be part of it myself. The problem with required service is the issue of deferments and how those are given. Maybe it starts as something easy, like those that don't have limbs, but with all government run things, it will balloon into all kinds of loop holes that are politically and socially engineered. How do they handle people like myself, who may not be deemed combat worthy, but wanted to serve. What about single teenage mothers...

  2. @jrchaard - What kept you from being a part of military service? I remember that my brother was rejected around 1960 because he had flat feet. I doubt that they reject too many these days.

    Of course I am not advocating a draft.. it put my career on hold for three years.. just saying that most of America does not share in this sacrifice like in previous times.. and this lack of sharing gives politicians a free pass.

  3. First, let me say only the Lord will truly determine if I have had any "sucess." But to answer your question, there are a number of people who have sacrificed for me in order for me to finish my bible college training, move to and establish churches, help me buy books that were needed to ensure "sucess," help me eat, house myself. I can't begin to tell you of the people who have given to ensure I could preach and teach them the word of God. Widows, single mothers, young families, older pastors, and some annonymous. I have had money left on my kitchen table, left on the seat of my car, handed to me in envelopes, placed in my mail box, hidden in books that were given go me.

    I shudder at the thought of those who have given so I could preach and I wonder if I preached to their soul and their need.

    I remember one family one time when we were in between ministries and fell behind on our house payment, they were actually going to sell their family home so that they could give me the equity to catch up our payments. Thank God my home sold before they needed to do that.

    One time a single mom after I preached came up to me and gave me some cash. She said two things, that was her lunch money that day, and if was given in obedience to Galatians 6:6 - I cried, but yes, I took it, I had too - she wanted to be obedient to God's word, and I could not rob her of that.

    So thank you for causing me to think of all those who have sacrificed on my behalf so that I could preach and teach the word of God. How it humbles me and makes me cry even now.

    As far as this war is concerned, we need to bring the troops home and take care of them.

    I am a former Marine, Viet Nam era vet and was proud and hard charging - I say that to say this, I no longer support the war in Iran or Afganistan. We are not fighting for liberty, we are not fighting to protect our freedom, we are not fighting for national security, we are fighting for political platforms, elections, and greedy gain.

    The troops are being used and abused for politicians and bankers. Get em out and get em home, but we owe the troops alot. I love my country, I am patriotic, but we haven't fought a war to protect our liberty and freedom since the Revolutionary War.

    There is nothing to share in this war as far as sacrifice. What is there? You say most of America does not share int his sacrifice like in previous times - what is that? I think you are right, we don't share in this war becasue we have no stake in this war. Why should we and for that matter since you brought it up, how should we sacrifice? I don't get it. Who are we to go remove a dictator because we don't like him? Thant is that countries deal not ours. Who are we the conscience of the world? Well then lets go wipe out the drug cartels in Mexico, lets get rid of Venezuela, lets to everywhere we don't like the guy.

    No, the answer has been there in front of me all along and I have denounced it and preached against it and ranted and raved in the past, but now I believe it is right, sanctions. Ok, we don't like Iran, trade sanctions, treat it like Cuba. But don't send men to die just becasue we think we can end the atrocities. What did we do? Nothing, except kill over 4500 US troops.

    I have nothing to offer this war, have no desire to sacrifice for it and just want the troops to come home and stop dieing. When will we realize we can't be imperialists?

    As usual, great post KB!

  4. Loved those stories Gregg! They are each so humbling. I think that you and I share some of those views because of our military service during the Vietnam War era.

  5. I went through 4 years of high school ROTC with the goal of entering into the military. I had bad asthma all through my childhood and had hoped to grow out of it. I was under Doctor care by my senior year of high school. As I told recruiters my condition, they said they would not take me, so I took a different course. It is strange that I can run 13 miles but not serve the country. (though, all it takes is the mildest sickness of any kind or allergies, and I gasp for air, so they might have a point. I can't even breathe in strong scents. My poor wife can't wear perfume, paint her nails, or even use scented lotion around me.)

  6. @jrchaard - I did not know that about you. For the record, I cannot think of a person that I know who would have made a better officer then you. And I will try to remember to not wear too much aftershave the next time we do lunch. :)

  7. Thanks Bob, but knowing of what your experience was of military leadership, I don't know if that is a compliment or a back handed insult. ;)

  8. @jrchaard - You would have made a great Gomer Pyle. :)


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