Right after chow one morning, we had a lecture that I dimly recall was on the topic of “Urban Warfare.” I remember the major teaching the class had a last name resembling a line on an eye chart. I was only 19 back then. Officers and NCO’s in those days always used some kind of “hook” at the beginning of their lectures to engage the audience. Jokes were common. Some used film clips. Others read book passages or newspaper articles.
This major read us a story written by an eyewitness to the Sack of Constantinople. For a few minutes that morning, we listened as blood ran in the streets and children were slaughtered in front of their parents. Shrieking mothers were gang raped alongside their daughters before all of them were brutally decapitated. Old men were drug down the streets by their white beards for sport. Books representing thousands of years of accumulated knowledge were burned. Some of the greatest art in the world was despoiled in a frenzy of hate and violence.
When he finished reading, the major asked us what the moral of the story was. Marines in the audience ventured various guesses. The major seemed increasingly annoyed by their efforts. Finally, he closed the book sharply and said, “The moral of the story is – don’t f**king lose.”
Over thirty years later, I still remember the moral of that story. In the meantime, I’ve learned a lot, gotten old, and become Orthodox. Now I recognize that many of those Greeks died as martyrs for Christ. They are in a place of peace as they await the resurrection and their everlasting reward. But as a father and husband, I also recognize that if they had had a choice, few of them would have voluntarily watched helplessly as their loved-ones suffered such horrible deaths.
So yeah. Don’t f**cking lose. Once you do, whatever happens next is completely out of your control. And historically speaking, what comes next can be really, really bad if the winners hate your guts.
Tens of millions of us are looking out over the landscape of contemporary America and feeling besieged. This year, we’ve watched BLM / Antifa rioters allowed to pillage and burn with impunity. Police stood down in the face of violent disorder, and refused to protect innocent civilians. Citizens who tried to protect themselves and their property were vilified and some have even been charged with crimes. Not even senior public officials such as senators and congressmen were safe from the fury of the mobs. The riots have destroyed thousands of homes and businesses causing billions in damages. Churches have not been spared, some even being attacked while worshippers prayed inside. Statues of Jesus, the saints, and American heroes have been pulled down and desecrated.
The media and the politicians have made excuses for all this or intentionally downplayed it. The words “mostly peaceful” have entered our lexicon now, along with “flatten the curve” and the “new normal.”