Lesson 9: In Order To Do Good, You May Have To Engage in Evil

Every action has an opposite and equal reaction. It’s a law of the universe as we currently understand it. In a more general sense, every action has consequences, both positive and negative. A lot of ripples are going to be created when something as large as a nation or as blunt as military force throws a stone into a pond. McNamara urges us to remember that in order to do good, you may have to engage in evil.

Objectively, there is no greater evil than ending a human life. If one is religious, edicts against killing are found in every sacred text. If not, it’s a waste beyond measure to end a nearly cosmically impossible life.

Yet, the United States has certain values and certain responsibilities on the world stage. If the United Nations decides that genocide is occurring, it is our responsibility to stop it, with military force if necessary. If an ally is attacked, we are bound to protect them, with military force if necessary. If we are attacked, we must defend ourselves. A nation can do none of these things without engaging in evil.

The key is to minimize the evil as much as possible. Continue reading

Lesson 5: Proportionality Should Be a Guideline in War

During General Sherman’s March to the Sea during the American Civil War, Sherman wrought as much destruction as he could. His goal was to sap the South of both the means and the will to fight. He scoured the countryside for supplies and killed livestock. Rail twisted around trees became known as a “Sherman necktie.” His motto was simple: “War is hell.” Although McNamara would not disagree with Sherman, his fifth lesson is that proportionality should be a guideline in war.

If two things are proportional, they are equivalent or roughly equal. McNamara suggests that damage inflicted in a time of war should be proportional to one’s goals. He does not advocate “taking it easy” on one’s opponents. He is not suggesting a nation fail to get the job done. He is saying we should strive to kill only as much as necessary to achieve our objectives.

In 1945, the United States began bombing Japan using incendiary weapons. 51% of Tokyo was destroyed, killing 100,000. Continue reading

What’s in a Name?

I have a thing for water.

Let me back up a bit…

There was a time in my life when songwriting provided me with the creative and emotional outlet I needed to deal with life’s troubles. I frequently found myself using nautical imagery to convey the feelings and ideas of my lyrics.

Nothing symbolizes hopelessness like a wind-swept, snow-covered field. Nothing seems as lonely as rain pattering against a window at night. Nothing feels as powerless as a ship dragged by the current or swept by a storm. Nothing is as sturdy as when it is anchored.

I’m not sure how I became so transfixed by rain and snow and the oceans and the seas. Maybe it’s because life on a farm is seasonal. Maybe it’s because I fell in love with history following maps showing the maneuvers of World War II warships. Maybe it’s because precipitation lends itself to analogy and symbolism.

Regardless of how it happened, I instantly fell in love with the title Nothing but the Rain. As I stated previously, this title was not my idea. I struggled to find a Battlestar Galactica quote or phrase that both sounded good and was available. When Dylan suggested Nothing but the Rain, I was smitten.

When I asked Chelsey to make a banner image for this website, my immediate thought was to transpose everything I like across the page. When that image became cluttered and unwieldy, she sent me the background and asked for further modifications.

The only problem was that it was already perfect. I couldn’t, and still can’t, explain why, but the banner image you see above would become less meaningful if anything were added. It represents Nothing but the Rain on every level.

Water is deeply personal and deeply meaningful to me, but even after writing and proofreading this post for well over an hour, I can’t explain why.

Maybe this is one of the few things where the “why” doesn’t matter. It just is. I’m not satisfied with that answer often, but I think I am this time.