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Commentary On Friends And Enemies By Louann Gaeddert

1193 words - 5 pages

Ever since the beginning of the United States, the people there have always fought for their beliefs. They believed in their freedom to religion, politics, second chances, etc., and they have always believed in fighting for them. These faiths kept the foundation of the country strong throughout its existence. It has inspired many noble causes with just as many noble heroes. Unfortunately, life is never so cut and clear. In reality, there are no sides of black nor white. The truth is that their righteous conviction is just another shade of gray. In “Friends and Enemies” by Louann Gaeddert, United States’ entry into WWII caused animosity between those who believe in fighting for their beliefs and those whose beliefs state no fighting. These two sides are mainly defined by two of the main characters, Jim Reimer and Clive Van Dyne. Jim is a Mennonite; his belief strictly demands no fighting of any kind even if it’s just. Clive is more of the typical American patriot; he is narrow-minded but is more than willing to help his country when needed. From the beginning to the end, both sides explains their reasoning, but I believed Jim’s side to be correct.

At first glance, Clive’s side is the reasonable reaction when one’s country is attacked. The U.S. citizens felt the need to stand up and defend themselves against Japan’s unprovoked attack. The U.S. decided to join in the name of self-defense. It sounds fair because it is. If citizens weren’t able to volunteer into military service, they would work in factories devoted to the war. They could also buy war bonds/stamps. This determination of putting all resources to the war is called total war. However, this is a shade of gray. An example of this is when racial prejudice occurred to the Mennonites, “... German swastikas had been painted on the two tables where the Mennonite kids always ate their lunch” (Gaeddert 95). To shed some light on this, a swastika is a symbol of a cross which means “it is good”. It is also the symbol used by Nazis to symbolize themselves. There has been accusations to why the Mennonites really don’t want to fight. This is because they are spies for the Germans. Like most allegations, this one was wrong. The eager citizens only made this judgement out of the unwillingness of the Mennonites in the war efforts. They haven’t helped in any way for their country. This caused paranoia among the eager that led to discrimination against the Mennonites. Overall, this is wrong and that’s why this is one of the reasons I believed Jim’s side to be correct.

On the other hand, Jim’s side is not the white knight needed in this time of need. Jim’s belief dictates pacifism in the worst time possible, war. Jim only has his belief because of the country’s bloodshed. The country has fought vigorously for the freedom of religion. Alas this stirs up a contradiction. In that time, many religions in the U.S. believe in the Ten Commandments. In one of those commandments, it is stated ‘Thou shalt...

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