I love the idea of this, but my inner skeptic is banging on the walls and calling me a moron: the Navy has converted two supertankers into hospital ships that travel to developing and third-world nations to provide free medical care, the USNS Comfort and Mercy. Both of them are “900-ft.-long modified oil tankers with triage bays, surgical wards, and 1,000 patient beds. To give you an idea of how big that is, each ship is nearly on par with Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in scale.”
This is all an effort to work against the bad reputation we’ve gotten over the last decade or so, and while these ships are Navy ships, neither of them carry any ordinance, and firing on them is considered a war crime.
Basically, what they’re going for is a new strategy called “soft power”: instead of going in, cowboy style with guns a-blazing and beating the crap out of anyone who looks at us funny (which is my first instinct in any situation, I’ll admit, and which has served us so well in Iraq), they go to war-torn nations that aren’t at war with us and assist in any way they can. We’re doing our darnedest to make a good impression.
This is the very definition of what they taught us to do in Sunday School: love others, help those less fortunate, assist with no expectation of repayment (other than, you know, maybe not being 9/11′d again some time in the future, thanks), and then disappear mysteriously into the night (that was Sunday School, right? No, wait, that was from Batman…). That’s why I love it.
Why I hate it is because of my inherent xenophobia (fear of anything alien or different, which has been bred into us since we were living in caves), which is something I hate in myself. But, I can see this coming around and biting us on the bum; it all goes back to the basics of human interaction. Do we try to make friends and create peace that way, or do we try to be strong enough so that no one is capable of hurting us? I see the appeal of both… but I’ll admit, I’d probably sleep a little better with the second one. And that ticks me off.
I believe that human beings are basically evil, that we need to work against our natures to become good (the concept of “original sin”). Children need to be taught not to steal, to share, to not be selfish, because those things are what we naturally do without the outside influence of those that raise us. And I want to believe that an effort to give, to share, to assist those around us in an attempt to make friends is one that will reward us in the long run.
I have decided to take this tickedoffedness I feel and funnel it into support of this idea, to use the negative emotions that my stupid human nature insists I feel and use it to fuel support for something good. I am afraid that by helping these people, we might be fostering the notion that we are weak, which could open us up for conflict in the future, and THAT CANNOT BE. This is a truly great thing that our military is doing, and this is the right thing to do with our resources, so screw my stupid fear. Way to go, Navy.