One of the biggest distortions that the warrior vocation has undergone in modern times is its transformation into a form of indentured servitude for the purpose of future economic benefit, with the payoffs being free education, medical care, and perhaps an immediate monetary payoff just for signing up.
We have already mentioned the distinction between combat as a spiritually perilous duty, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the career of the ‘mercenary’ who is basically a body for hire and may or may not have any concern for love and spiritual realization.
Economic bribes aside, there is the additional problem of young men being lured into military service due to the social status it accrues. Membership in the military in the United States automatically translates to strangers going out of their way to offer praises and thanks, and this has become so normal that it is almost a faux pas to omit it. No distinction is made between veterans of actual battles and those who may spend one weekend per month out in the field doing routine drills half an hour from home. It is not so much a problem of undeserved merit but of pseudo-religious patriotic zeal on the part of the public, which in America has taken on disturbing proportions. Not to genuflect in front of ‘men in uniform’ is tantamount to spitting on the flag.
We do not object to practice of showing respect to respectable men, and there are plenty of cases where soldiers deserve the respect they are shown, but we would like to point out that this automatic and indiscriminate form of soldier-worship ends up perverting military service into a kind of purchased flattery for egotistical young men.
In view of this combination of monetary reward and immediately elevated social status, it is difficult to imagine recruiters having to put forth much effort at all. One wonders why they are even needed. The answer to this last question is of course that there is no such thing as enough soldiers in an age when warfare has become total. No matter how many sign up, more will be needed, and once the willing are enlisted, the rest must be baited.
If we speak with hostility about these practices, it is because they tend to overshadow all of the essential considerations, all of the factors that must be discerned in order to know that military service is in fact one’s vocation and that it will not turn out, on the contrary, to be a soul-destroying experience for a given individual. We would perhaps be more accepting if the spiritual questions were more seriously addressed as part of the ‘marketing’ strategy used by the state to increase its ranks, but instead it is ignored completely, and this cannot be condoned and renders all other tactics perverse.