Thursday, January 24, 2013

Women in Combat and Monks in Prayer

Listening to news about women being allowed to serve in combat conditions took me back to prayers at a monastery.

It was a few years ago, at Mepkin Abbey.  During the prayers that allowed for intercessions, one elderly monk prayed for forgiveness for a nation that sent women to fight in combat.

Even in a monastery so removed from so many aspects of modern life, the monks realized that women were serving in combat positions.  Now, the Secretary of Defense may be willing to do the same.

The monk who prayed was horrified that we'd send vulnerable women into such danger.  As I listened to him, I thought about my younger self who would have been indignant.  My 40-something year old self tended to agree on strange levels.

It's taken me a long time, and witness to decades of sexual violence, to come around to believing that women are more vulnerable.  I know that men can be raped, but in regular military operations, I haven't read much about men being raped.

Women are raped and brutalized in all sorts of ways.  Civilian populations have been subject to all sorts of horrors.  And now we're realizing that women serving in the military are too.

My younger self would have advised giving women information, and then, if they still wanted combat positions and the inherent risks, I'd have let them do it.

My older self is not so sure.  My older self often feels that the government should operate like a parent of toddlers, intervening when necessary to keep the toddlers from hurting themselves.

I'm not comfortable with these feelings, which is why my first impulse was to cheer at the idea of women having more options for their service with the military.

Of course, my heart breaks at the idea that any young person, male or female, is sent to war.  It seems such a waste.  All that potential lost.

I have plans to return to Mepkin in February.  It will be interesting to experience the monastery during a different season.  I've only ever gone there in the Autumn.  Now a winter sojourn!

I look forward to returning to the monks who pray while we're all going about our business.  I know that there are plenty of people who scoff at the idea of cloistered people praying for the world instead of actually DOING something to make the world better.

My younger self would have agreed.  My older self has begun to believe that praying for the world multiple times a day is the most important thing that can be done.

1 comment:

Pastor Paul Frederick Nus said...

On Ash Wednesday 2013 the joint voters' meeting of Trinity Lutheran Church in Millersburg, Iowa and Calvary Lutheran Church in Deep River, Iowa unanimously adopted this Resolution: "To Condemn and Renounce the Employment of Women in Combat"