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Monday, September 10, 2007

Seeing the Capybara

Now Paintball, for those of you who might not know, is what guys who always thought or dreamed of being soldiers but never were do to make themselves feel more manly. Those of us who haven't joined the fraternity of the psychologically-scarred-for-life-by-war always seem to think we missed out on something. Like we're somehow less of men because we never had to prove ourselves in that way. And i'm sure there are fellas out there who feel that paintball is an acceptable substitute for military training, if not service. They can swagger around now because they have a .68 caliber bruise on their arm. They've seen the elephant.

Well, no, no they haven't. i've been on the 'battlefield' and that wasn't an elephant. It was more of a capybara.

Here's a little hint, if it has the word "ball" in it, it isn't a real war. Football is a derivative of war. It has lines, the obect is to get beyond your enemies lines through deception, speed and force. Battles take place all over the field. Generals on the sidelines call in strategies to the commander in the field and he implements the tactics. Heck, folk who have nothing to do with the engagement sit around analyzing it over and over and criticizing every move. But for all that, it is a game. The combatants get to go home afterwards, sore, possibly injured but relatively alive and well.

Paintball while bearing some resemblace to armed combat is not war. For cryin' out loud, i will purposefully step into a stream of 'bullets' because i know the shooter is too far away and his rounds aren't going to break. Take that mentality onto the streets of Bagdad and see how long you last. Just make sure you tattoo your blood type and next of kin somewhere on your body first.

In fact, that's a good indicator for war and real war-like activities. Do you feel the need to tattoo your blood type and next of kin on your person before doing it? Then maybe you are getting ready to see the elephant. Then again, in this age of extreme sports, maybe not.

But for those of us who have seen the capybara, i salute thee. It's a hoot! You know, there's something to be said for a battle where both sides, "Dead" and quick alike, can come together afterwards and talk over, laugh over and generally kibitz about the last "battle." A lot of times, a meal follows and every one is friends. Any PTSD's are usually cured by the next game and most wounds will heal by next week. i think the Vikings called that Valhalla, it was their version of heaven. A fellowship of the brawl.

And that brings me to why i'm not keen on being a soldier anymore. i've seen the capybara and that was real enough for me to realize that in a real war, sticking your head around the wrong corner results in a letter to your spouse and a closed casket, not a bruise on your forehead. War divides. War scars. War creates silences that no one can speak into. It digs holes, craters that no one can fill. War is a necessity that only fools wish for. For those who've seen the elephant, I send a little, humble, pre-Veterens day thanks and prayer.

The rest of us should Praise God and pass the paintballs.

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