Five years after founding The Gratitude Campaign, I've received over 10,500 e-mails, and 1,500 comments on YouTube. It seems that there is a lot to talk about with regard to gratitude for those who serve; not the least of which is the ever present challenge of understanding how to keep the politics out of it. Hopefully this blog will give us an opportunity for some rational, reasonable, and respectful discussion. I hope you'll join us...

~Scott Truitt, FOUNDER


Monday, January 18, 2010

On Supporting the Troops or Supporting Peace

In my experience there seems to be a polarization in the United States; two ideas that most people see as mutually exclusive: supporting our Troops or supporting Peace. Just based on the feedback I’ve received to this campaign, it seems that the Support the Troops movement is typically associated with the conservative right, while the Support Peace movement is associated with the liberal left. And seldom do the two meet in the middle – to the point where many people will look at me cross-eyed when I suggest that you can do both -- as though it makes their brain hurt.

thegratitudecampaign is, at its core, about empowering people to open their hearts to one another. This may sound just cute as a sound bite, but when you really consider what that means it has pretty deep implications for those who choose to accept the challenge. When you take two minutes and really connect with what you are thanking our Troops for – devoting their lives, and in many cases sacrificing their lives so that we can be whoever we want to be – you cannot ignore the gravity and the magnitude of that gift. And when you look one of these people in the eye to express your gratitude for that, you cannot help but feel the exchange of emotion, and the humility of having someone that you don’t even know make that commitment and sacrifice for you. It seems to follow that if they have accepted this responsibility of protecting and defending our Freedom, we must honor and respect that by accepting the responsibility for when, where, and why we put them in harm’s way.

[ Now, before I go on I want to be clear that when I discuss the concept of war, or putting our Troops in harm’s way, I am speaking of war in general unless I specify otherwise – I am not necessarily commenting or making a judgment on our current war(s). The questions I raise need to be answered on a case-by-case basis. And they will likely be answered differently depending on which conflict we’re talking about. ]

Ultimately we, civilians, are responsible for how our government deploys our Armed Forces. Our President and our Congressmen represent us. They make their decisions based on what they believe we want. We tell them what we want with our voices (or lack thereof) and our votes (or lack thereof), and our lifestyle choices. When we tell them that we want cheap gas (and lots of it), safe travels, favorable international trade, and global influence, they must find a way to deliver. And they’ll deliver through force if a peaceful and cost-effective solution cannot be found. Our Troops bear the heaviest burden of that. So if we truly want to thank our Troops, what better way than to do what we can to work for Peace? To make sacrifices and find solutions in our own lives to solve these issues so that our Troops don’t have to solve them by force, and to keep them as safe as they keep us? We cannot claim to be supporting our Troops if we are sending them to war frivolously, or if we are not willing to make sacrifices in our own lives as they sacrifice for us.

Having said that, it’s important to recognize that sometimes in order to put a stop to war you have to go to war. It seems clear that we could not have stopped Hitler through diplomacy alone. Food shipments in Somalia, and recently in Haiti could not be delivered safely without the protection and order provided by our Troops. Because desperate people do desperate things, we often need to be willing to stand up and fight for we believe is right – to fight for Peace. And when those times come, we need the service of those who are willing to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.

In the end, supporting our Troops or supporting Peace are not mutually exclusive ideas. To the contrary, we should support Peace because we support our Troops. And we should support our Troops because we support Peace. When our choices and decisions do both – as individuals, and as a country – that’s when we’re being the best version of ourselves.

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