Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Awhile ago I read about the psychology of warfare, specifically the reasons that soldiers stay in battle.  The basic conclusion that was reached is that soldiers in wars aren't especially loyal to their countries, their causes, or their commanders but they are extremely loyal to the soldiers that fight beside them, their comrades and compatriots.  When soldiers who have the option to leave the theatre of war for whatever reason return to fight they consistently cite the desire to defend and support those who fought directly beside them rather than any grand purpose.

It makes sense.  It is hard to keep a distant threat to a concept in a far away place foremost in your mind when you are stabbing someone to death.  It is much easier to keep in mind that killing that enemy and risking death yourself will help save the person directly beside you who you have slept beside, shared food with, and who faces an uncertain future shoulder to shoulder with you.  People make decisions based on immediate emotional impacts and in group loyalty much more so than any grand philosophical goal.

I feel like this applies in lots of other places too.  Our school Fun Fair is coming up this weekend and the volunteers are working like maniacs to make it happen.  They are at the school every day making posters, recruiting others volunteers, making plans, and doing everything else required to make the event happen.  Most of the core people are going to be working 8 hour shifts on Saturday in addition to all the time put in on other days and nights - can the money we raise really be worth all that effort?  At a glance it doesn't seem to me like it is and yet there I am volunteering to do it anyway.

In this I am a soldier in a war I think.  I volunteer to help sell milk now and again not because I think selling the milk is particularly beneficial but because I want to help out Milk Lady.  I volunteer to run the book sale at the Fun Fair not so much because I really care how many books we sell but because I want to help all the folks who are running the event.  They are good people and I like them; I want them to succeed in their goals and be happy.  I don't go and work because of the battle plan (make money for the kids) nor because it is the right thing to do (must support the local school) but simply because I want to fight alongside my fellow soldiers.

No comments:

Post a Comment