We are a nation built on war. Through war we earned our independence. Through war we maintain power and position around the world. The warrior spirit is woven into the very fibers of our American being. But with war, comes inevitable death.
Historically, psychological principles are utilized to mitigate the fear of death in war. In order to develop courageous soldiers, Socrates encouraged the republic to promote social policies which emphasized valor and sacrifice as the preferred alternatives to defeat and enslavement. Narratives regarding the underworld were transformed from negative and gruesome, to positive and desirable, as evidenced in the censorship of lament from stories, poems, and public mourning of the dead. Plato took the soldiers’ courage narrative to the next level, as he encouraged soldiers to disassociate themselves from family, knowing their death in battle would reward them with the status of immortal hero.
Though the way fear was used to manipulate soldier participation in battle changed after World War I, a soldier’s death still remains of paramount importance. “Unlike normal death, which in a modern secular world has no special meaning, in war, and ‘only in war, the individual can believe that he knows he is dying “for” something.’”
This belief plays out in many ways in our modern culture. When an American soldier dies in battle, they are remembered and honored. When a police officer dies fighting the “war on drugs,” or protecting our borders, they have made the ultimate sacrifice. These two groups are especially placed on a pedestal of honor for their selfless efforts to protect our freedoms. Their lives are deemed of higher value than those individuals not serving in public servant roles.
In contrast, if a person is murdered by the police or dies from COVID, their deaths are dismissed, deemed less meaningful, by large portions of contemporary culture. The reasons behind this are complex and include systemic oppression and politicization of life. Simply being human is of little importance, unless that humanity is wielded to gain or maintain power and control.
Thus is the nature of war. And when victory seems elusive, attrition warfare kicks in.
“Attrition warfare is the term used to describe the sustained process of wearing down an opponent so as to force their physical collapse through continuous losses in personnel, equipment and supplies or to wear them down to such an extent that their will to fight collapses.”
With increasing prevalence, our elections have become all out wars. Both Biden and Harris noted we are in a “battle for the soul of our nation.” Millions of dollars are spent in “battleground” states to secure victory. Political ads are used to “attack” opponents, discrediting them as humans. Human lives are leveraged as political capital, health and safety dismissed or bullied into submission. There is no middle ground on the battlefield of politics. Is it any wonder why peace and unity are elusive post-elections?
Our current climate has a sitting President refusing to concede the election victory to his opponent. And while this definitely goes against electoral tradition, should we expect anything different from a person who has fought most nations, expectations, and people groups in action and word throughout his tenure, and is now determined to fight to maintain his position of power? He and his electoral base are armed and ready. Lawyers are working to file lawsuits. Protestors are calling for recounts and no counts and any other counts to prove election fraud. His base’s battle cry continues to resound.
Despite the collective breath taken by half of American and other’s around the world, and a degree of hope that’s emerged with a Biden/Harris victory, our nation remains ripe with fear. We are still at war. As attrition warfare trudges on, the potential for increased death tolls, economic impact, and abuse remains. All of which leads to increased possibility of an unstable outcome and long-term impact on the nation. With attrition warfare tactics, not even the winners win. 
As a nation and society, how do we recover from such battles being waged decade upon decade? Is there a way to bring peace and unification to such a broken system? What does the process of healing and unification entail? How can humans bent on war ever achieve such a noble goal? Will the land of the free and the brave ever be truly free for all?
One can always hope.
During such tumultuous days, wielding the weapons of Hope and Love through action is the best we have.
May we battle faithfully and die honorably, not warring as humans do, but rather radically stepping away from war into the Way of Jesus.
**Please note, I am married to a US Army veteran, and have many military vets in my family. I also have dear friends who serve in police departments. This is meant in no way to minimize their work on behalf of others. It is a critique of why such systems are even necessary, how they are co-opted into other areas of society and prioritized above others. This is an imagining of the possibility of living in a different paradigm, one not driven by fear, power, or position.
 Frank Furedi. How Fear Works: Culture of Fear in the 21st Century. (London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2019) 37-38.
 Furedi, quoting Weber, 42.
 Nicholas Murry. 2016. “Attrition Warfare.” Encyclopedia 1914-1918- online. January 13. Accessed November 10, 2020. https://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/attrition_warfare.