Your money or your life

I saw some car decals the other day that neatly summed up the conservative paradox. Right next to each other on the back window of a big, black SUV were the decals “T.E.A.” (taxed enough already—the TEA party) and “Semper Fi” (the slogan of the Marines). “Semper Fi,” of course is to send the message that the driver is willing to give up his life or his children’s lives to do whatAmericaneeds to have done. The “TEA” means that the driver is not willing to spend his money to do what America needs to have done.

Now I have two sons and fortunately have not had the experience of losing one of them. However, I have paid a lot of money in taxes. Although I don’t like paying taxes, I somehow don’t think the pain of spending a little more money could be anywhere near the agony of losing a child. Yet the 2 decals I saw suggest I’ve somehow got it backwards. The driver appears to value his money more than his children’s lives.

Why does the government’s call to spend your life remain unquestioned and unquestionable to the same people who march in the streets and spit venom at any governmental request for the lesser sacrifice of money? The disconnect  seems to transcend mere policy differences—the specific war we are asked to fight, the specific program we are asked to fund. A segment of our population embraces the concept of sacrificing a child and rejects the concept of sacrificing a portion of their income. But isn’t it the same thing, only of different magnitude? And the magnitude of the sacrifice is much, much greater when a life is given up. I think even the driver with the decals would admit this if asked explicitly, so I’d like to hear him explain why he glorifies the one sacrifice and vilifies the other? Are we not equally being asked to give of ourselves that others might benefit?

What’s even more interesting is the difference in the opportunity to contribute. Even if we wanted too, we couldn’t all serve in the Marines and fire a weapon on the front line, but we could all proudly pay for our government and its programs—and honor those who do.