War. What is it good for?

On "60 Minutes" Sunday night, Mike Wallace talked to veterans who were disabled in Iraq. The piece, entitled "The Wounds of War," featured vets who lost limbs, suffered brain damage, or were paralyzed while fighting in the Middle East. The photograph at left is of veteran Melissa Stockwell, who talked to Wallace about losing her left leg in combat. After being medically discharged from the military, Stockwell is back at home and training to become a prosthetist.

It was sad for me to witness the trauma and trials these soldiers have suffered. They were all so young, too--probably around my age--and so it home that the War in Iraq is being fought by people who are a lot like me. We are in the same age group. We probably listen to the same music and watch the same TV shows. We may have even gone to high school together.

It was touching to see the strength and hope these soldiers have for the future. Although they have had to relearn how to walk or even how to talk, they are optimistic, excited about life, and eager to help others. I think if I ever lost a limb, I would be bitter and angry for a long time. And so it was really humbling to see people who have made lemonade and lemon bars when life handed them a truck-full of sour fruit. What an inspiration.

But the sadness still remains in my heart. War is a tragedy. Not only are good Americans being killed, there are also many innocent Iraqis who are also lost in the crossfire. Journalists, too, are being targeted--no matter what their nationality. And it's not only the War in Iraq. There is suffering in Sudan, North Korea, Israel...

Since mankind first stepped foot on this Earth, there have been wars and murders. Isn't history defined by war? By the conflicts between warring tribes or kings or nations? No matter what kind of government we have--be it monarchy, theocracy, fascist dictatorship, or democracy--the ugly head of war always rears its head.

Yet most of us do not want war. We do not want to lose our loved ones. We do not want our homes to be destroyed or our crops ravaged. We want peace. But there always will be war someplace on this Earth. There will always be a corrupt leader who wants to expand his borders or pillage his neighbors. And isn't it sad, and ironic, that sometimes the only way to resist war is to join in it? I mean, someone had to stop Hitler. Someone has to defend our liberty and our freedoms--and sometimes the only way to do that is with guns and bombs. Negotiations and peace offerings can only go so far when a bloodthirsty enemy is involved.

I have a friend who believes the human race is inherently broken. And I can empathize with his perspective because the world is indeed filled with war, suffering, and inhumanity. But I have to believe that there is a lot of good out there--you just have to dig a little deeper to find it. And I also have to believe that we are not broken. We all have the ability to choose between good and evil; even the vilest human being has the option of joining the good side.

And there always remains a hope for peace. However naive this notion may be, I avidly prescribe to it.