Monday, May 28, 2007

At What Price, Peace?

"Memorial Day orators will say that a G.I.'s life is priceless. Don't believe it. I know what value the U.S. government assigns to a soldier's life: I've been handed the check."

Andrew J. Bacevich is an anti-war writer who writes for the Washington Post. I do not claim in-depth knowledge of his other articles, but this article struck me as being particularly poignant - he lost his son in a suicide bomb attack in Iraq.

That line above, especially, reminds me of the recently reported incidents, where 3 young men serving out their National Service lost their lives in a freak accident, and another paralysed from waist down is forced to live on $500 a month for the rest of his life.

I understand the need for National Service, even though I dislike it intensely. I can even understand the necessity of creating one-sized-fits-all policies to at least create the illusion of equality.

What I cannot accept is how easy it is to justify sacrifices in the name of a greater good when the person making the justifications is not the person making the sacrifice.

If defense is something everyone in the country benefits from, why does half the population escape it? Why create distinctions in practice for "white horses" where none exist on paper? What practical reason can there be?

If globalisation is something all Singaporean's benefit from, why does the benefits of globalisation fall mostly on the top 10th percentile while the bottom 10th percentile are trapped in poverty with even fewer opportunities for social mobility? Why is it so easy for Parliament to say "Here's your $290, too bad"?

If a relationship is something that both people benefit from, why do I see so many couples with one person bearing most of the burdens while another deriving most of the benefits?

Why do we do this to each other? Are we truly that monstrous?

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