Tuesday, October 23, 2012

James Jones on Bravery

(Views like this are one reason Hemingway hated his guts)

Paris Review: Are you a pacifist?

Jones: There're so many young guys, you know—young Americans and, yes, young men everywhere—a whole generation of people younger than me who have grown up feeling inadequate as men because they haven't been able to fight in a war and find out whether they are brave or not. Because it is in an effort to prove this bravery that we fight—in wars or in bars—whereas if a man were truly brave he wouldn't have to be always proving it to himself. So therefore I am forced to consider bravery suspect, and ridiculous, and dangerous. Because if there are enough young men like that who feel strongly enough about it, they can almost bring on a war, even when none of them want it, and are in fact struggling against having one. (And as far as modern war is concerned I am a pacifist. Hell, it isn't even war anymore, as far as that goes. It's an industry, a big business complex.)

And it's a ridiculous thing because this bravery myth is something those young men should be able to laugh at. Of course the older men like me, their big brothers, and uncles, and maybe even their fathers, we don't help them any. Even those of us who don't openly brag. Because all the time we are talking about how scared we were in the war, we are implying tacitly that we were brave enough to stay. Whereas in actual fact we stayed because we were afraid of being laughed at, or thrown in jail, or shot, as far as that goes.

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