Or maybe the better questions is “What Is Right?

Yesterday I finished a reread of Erich Maria Remarque’s powerful All Quiet on the Western Front, a story recounting what life was like for young recruits in WWI. As with other war novels I have found the most moving, the portrayal of war through the eyes of the soldiers who have to fight the wars (as opposed to those who send them to war and the professionals who direct them) once again reminded me of the human costs of war, of those who are its true victims, whether because they are killed or wounded or psychologically maimed.

Remarque’s book set me to thinking about an experience I had a few weeks ago while attending a Washington Nationals’ baseball game. The Nats “have made military outreach a top priority, so much so that USO Metropolitan Washington honored the team with the Legacy of Hope Award during their 2012 Awards Gala.” (See Military Initiatives for a full description of all the Nationals are doing in this regard).

Just one of the initiatives is the honoring of soldiers, and often their families too, at the end of third inning during every home game. The fans always give these honorees a standing ovation.

Usually I stand too and applaud as I have come to understand that no matter the right or wrong of a particular war, those who have been sent into battle deserve to be honored.

But sometimes I find myself in a quandry, not because of any doubt that appreciation is valid but because I feel that every game I am being required to follow what the Nationals’ are dictating.

A few weeks ago, at the end of the third inning, I was talking with a friend and  clapping, but I did not stand up. A few rows in front of me, a man gestured to me to stand. When I didn’t, he gave me a disgusted look, and later in the game, he walked by me and said, “You ought to be ashamed.”

I wanted to respond that he had no right to tell me what to do nor if what I was doing was wrong. But he passed too quickly.

Nevertheless, this incident and my general discomfort each game when I feel I have to follow the crowd, when I’d really like to express my disgust at those who lead us into wars through lies and deceptions and who do not have to pay any personal price for their actions, continues to be on my mind.

I would be interested in your thoughts, respectfully stated, either in the Comments section of this post or in an email to me: Samesty84@gmail.com.