Friday, May 25, 2012

Monday Sermon: Should We Honor The Soldiers Of The Culture Wars On Memorial Day?

" ...the culture wars are still inevitably significant, for the very simple reason that there’s no common ground on which to call a truce."
- Ross Douthat, New York Times, The Persistence Of The Culture War, Feb. 7, 2012

The scene is iconic and always unforgettable: the President laying the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is a symbolic gesture filled with dignity, solemnity and, yes... hope: hope that our casualties of war will someday dwindle to nothing. It also brings to mind horrendous battle scenes, matchless courage... and bloodied bodies strewn across vast landscapes: the detritus of war.

And while it is a time of remembrance, it is a time when we forget that we are engaged in wars of another sort, wars that have had just as many casualties, wars that have changed the lives of past generations and generations to come. They are wars in which we have been engaged in for many years, wars which seem to have no end. And they are civil wars because they are fought with our own citizenry.

The culture wars are spoken of so casually that people forget that they are just as deadly and fought on a landscape just as perilous as any mine-laden field. Yet we have no tomb upon which to lay a wreath nor do we have a day to commemorate the casualties - to stop and think about the culture warriors and about those conflicts effecting our world.

As with all wars, the culture wars of America have had two sides - two sides which mourn their dead, be they people or ideologies. The ferocity of the battles are equal to the battlegrounds: abortion, women's rights, homosexuality/gay rights, racism, multiculturalism, gun politics, environmentalism, capitalism, socialism, religious intolerance, global warming, birth control, energy, evolution are some which have had more prominent scenes of battle.

Perhaps the most telling difference between the sides is that one side deals in huge numbers, broad terms and generalities - 40 million aborted babies, the "death" of civilization," the scourge of "socialism", while the other side focuses more on specifics, personalities and issues: Matthew Shepard, Dr. Martin Luther King, the specific rate of unemployment, the 99%, gun control. One warrior has been trained to fight virtually everything of the opposing view, while the other warrior is slightly more focused.

Both warriors are courageous and fierce when engaged in mortal combat.

No one can doubt that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a monument to a stereotypical U.S. soldier, a kind of military Everyman, so the concept of a memorial for a universal culture warrior seems nearly impossible. But it is not ridiculous: all of us on both sides, need a focal point for reflection, a reminder that people have fought for something they believe in, will continue to fight, and that the outcome of the battles will determine the fate of mankind more than any number of bullets and bombs. The Tomb of the Unknown Culture Warrior would not be a monument to Good vs Evil or Right vs. Wrong, but to the one thing that glorifies humanity more than anything else: passion for a cause.  

Paying tribute at the Tomb Of The Unknown Culture Warrior might actually provide that which Ross Douthat doubts could ever happen: a ceasefire.

Yes, a tiny, but much needed truce for our culture-war weary world.