Some would say they're only children, these young men. 18, 19, 20 years old. Certainly, there is no lack of 22-year-old children on many a university campus in many countries. These young men, however, are not children. In the loads they bear, the responsibilities they shoulder, the challenges they must overcome, they are fully adults, indeed, more so than many of their peers in other countries will ever be.
A few weeks ago I posted a rumination about killing people and the need to be willing to be killed, in extreme cases:
Sometimes, says a grieving mother, you have to be willing to lay down your life. Protecting your fellow citizens from death, for example, is such a case.In response, one German reader named Hans scoffed:
An extraordinarily strong statement, don't you think? Makes one wonder if the preachers of total non-killing would be willing to lay down their lives for anything, or perhaps more important, for anyone.
Who is this talking ? Darth Vader? You seem to have more respect for those wanting to die for what you would consider the wrong thing than for those who are on your side but refuse to die for whatever ( And quite frankly I think refusing to die AT ALL is a sign of being mentally healthy ).I have been thinking about his comment, because obviously, no-one wants to die for any reason except perhaps extreme old age. Having said that, however, in an extreme case that hopefully will never happen to anyone, I expect that quite a number of us actually could conceive of dying for some very special people in our lives, such as our children.
This afternoon, while hurting for the parents of Achikam's fellow soldier, it occurred to me to wonder if there might be a connection between the sentiments Hans expressed, and in which he is undoubtedly not alone, and the fact that the society he lives in seems not to be having children anymore. Maybe he really does come from a place where they can't conceive of dying for anyone, not even their children, and therefore they don't conceive the children.