Review Of War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning

1760 words - 7 pages

Review of "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning"

War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, written by the talented author Chris Hedges, gives us provoking thoughts that are somewhat painful to read but at the same time are quite personal confessions. Chris Hedges, a talented journalist to say the least, brings nearly 15 years of being a foreign correspondent to this book and subjectively concludes how all of his world experiences tie together. Throughout his book, he unifies themes present in all wars he experienced first hand. The most important themes I was able to draw from this book were, war skews reality, dominates culture, seduces society with its heroic attributes, distorts memory, and supports a cause, and allures us by a constant battle between death and love.

In Hedges' first chapter of the book titled, "The Myth of War," he talks about how the press often shows and romanticizes certain aspects of war. In war there is a mythic reality and a sensory reality. In sensory reality, we see events for what they are. In mythic reality, we see defeats as "signposts on the road to ultimate victory" (21), Chris Hedges brings up an intriguing point that the war we are most used to seeing and hearing about (mythic war )is a war completely different than the war the soldiers and journalists experience ( sensory war), a war that hides nothing. He states, "The myth of war is essential to justify the horrible sacrifices required in war, the destruction and death of innocents. It can be formed only by denying the reality of war, by turning the lies, the manipulation, the inhumanness of war into the heroic ideal" (26). Chris Hedges tries to get the point across that in war nothing is as it seems. Through his own experiences we are able to see that not everything in wartime is the truth. The press does a great job in highlighting the extremes and neglects other aspects. So he brings up a great point when talking about sensory war and mythic war. Manipulating sensory war to mythic war creates a skewed reality.

The second chapter of the book, "The Plague of Nationalism," fits into the myth of war by telling the people of any country that it is o.k. to hate and it is o.k. to kill even though the cause might not be just. He states that: "Lurking beneath the surface of every society, including ours, is the passionate yearning for a nationalist cause that exalts us, the kind that war alone is able to deliver. We abandon individual responsibility for a shared, unquestioned communal enterprise, however morally dubious" (45). There is a myth within nationalism that it is right. However morally wrong the reasons of war are, the myth of nationalism brain washes us into thinking that we are right. We are doing this for the right reasons and therefore to support our military however morally dubious the cause is. Chris Hedges writes about a general who, "during a dispute with Chile, flew his helicopter over the Chilean border in order to piss on Chilean...

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