Blog 1813 – 09.10.2020



I first heard the name Trapper used for one of the leading characters in the book, movie, and long running TV Korean War drama/situation comedy. Trapper John was one of the doctors at the storied MASH unit (MASH is an acronym for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.) These units were first introduced in August of 1945 and later deployed in the Korean Conflict and all U.S. wars since.

War dramas as all well told and well portrayed dramas, even the darkest grimmest, must include some comic relief or we could not bear them. But MASH, published, produced, aired, and popularly read and watched during our long dark night called the Vietnam War required more laughs than bullets to make it the hit it was. The the story was set during the Korean War but everyone knew it was really about Vietnam. I turned twenty serving in South Vietnam fifty years ago and, fortunate as I was to avoid combat for eleven months in a combat zone, I too was affected by the comic dramatic tragedy that that the war was for all but the millionaires it created. The loss of life, limb, and potential was horrendous and many still living bear scars visible and invisible from that war.

Trapper, Hawkeye, Radar, Klinger, Hot Lips and the gang made the best of a very bad situation and tried their best with gags and pranks to distract themselves and us momentarily from the horrors of war while depicting the darkness and futility of it at the same time. No problems are truly solved by war only postponed, if even that. The truth is problems are only perpetuated and exacerbated by war.

Why then to we continue to practice it upon one another offering up the best and brightest we have to the meat grinder as the bearers of the brunt, both sides, said of our First World War, the war supposedly to end all wars? I do not agree that those who sacrificed their lives were stupid losers as one Commander In Chief has been quoted as saying, but wars are silly and stupid and we are all losers because we continue to believe that somehow we can make a better world by forcing our will and our way of life on others. Tough talk is what starts wars and keeps them going. Sensible talk and even more, sensitive listening can prevent them and I hope some day end them forever.

And, yes, I know the silly Bible verse that has the Prince of Peace himself saying, “There will always be wars and rumors of wars.” I believe that he was misquoted, either that or that he was not who they say he was in the story. To many there are many unresolved inconsistencies in that story. I read recently that even in the U.S. now fifty-two percent of the people no longer believe that Jesus is the only Savior and Son of God, but that he was a prophet like all the best ones, Moses, Buddha, Mohamed, Gandhi and so many others trying to teach us to live better, longer, more caring, and fruitful lives.

I am wary of anyone who says that only he or she can save us. People who lift themselves up in such a way often promote an agenda of fear and divisiveness and that is never what is best, but for only a few. War and oneupmanship are both terrible traps and there is a price to pay if we let ourselves be snared by them. Long before there was a practical joking wise cracker doctor named Trapper John, there were trappers who set traps for animals and people to kill them and use their bodies to feed and fuel the meat grinders and to wear their skins and bones as trophies. War is never pretty and never will be. Only a rich and powerful few ever truly benefit from all the blood and lives that are lost. Oh, there are heroic acts as well as horrendous acts committed in wars as brothers and sisters risk and even sacrifice their own lives to protect other brothers and sisters. But, by far the most heroic acts are those committed by those who sacrifice their own self interests to stop and prevent wars.

In an Old Testament story we read that King David was not allowed to build God’s Temple because he had too much blood on his hands from all wars he had fought. It is a point often overlooked by those who yell the loudest that they are God chosen race of people. There is and only ever has been but one race and one people chosen by God whatever name you chose to call him or her by – the Human Race.

Your friend and fellow traveler,

Here’s to no more war,

David White


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