Futility?

fu·til·i·ty (fyū-tĭlĭ-tē)
n., pl. -ties.

  1. The quality of having no useful result; uselessness.
  2. Lack of importance or purpose; frivolousness.
  3. A futile act.

Clint Eastwood says he made his Iwo Jima movies to show the futility of war. He says he wanted to show we are all the same.

Perhaps Mr. Eastwood didn’t pay attention to the stories he was telling.

First, there was something very different in the character of our soldiers. Our soldiers didn’t commit suicide — even though they knew the kinds of atrocities that were sure to be inflicted upon them if they fell into Japanese hands.

Second, there was something very different in the reasons we fought; if we can speak of futility, it was on the part of the Japanese. They grasped at empire, and saw merely the eventual destruction of their young men and of many of their major cities, and saw their homeland occupied. We, on the other hand, fought against that empire that sought to enslave much of the world–and our sacrifices were the price of freedom. It’s the price we were willing to pay. That isn’t “futility.” I’ve heard no World War II veteran speak in this way, especially those who were in the Pacific. Their complaint, rather, is that people like Eastwood don’t get it, and that younger generations have forgotten.

If younger generations forget that our freedom has a price, if they forget to honor those who sacrificed their lives for them, then, and only then, would they have died in vain.

2 thoughts on “Futility?

  1. You’d have to be crazy to be in favor of war. But there are times when it is presented to you by someone else’s actions, and then one (ie, a society) must be prepared. In our fallen world, war may sometimes be the only available answer (by way of a means to an end) to our prayers for peace!

    Often clarity on that last point only comes well after the fact. Many in our country, and famously in Britain before us, thought that WW II was avoidable if only we stayed aloof. In retrospect, preparation would have been a better answer than isolation.

  2. I had a similar experience watching Spielberg’s Munich — The Israelis took care not to take out innocents in its strikes on Black September. The Arab massacre of Israeli athletes in the 1972 Olympics and suicide-bombings spoke differently. One had the sense that Spielberg strove to convey a message of the “futility” of the Israeli desire for retribution, but it was conflicted.

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