Dave B wrote:The individual, if he or she is a thinking person, reaches points where they have trouble justifying their actions, that will lead to the death of others, even if ordered by a legitimate command.
Yes, I can see that. Does that mean that they need help justifying their actions (if ordered by a legitimate command)?
Dave B wrote:The armed forces cannot (yet) admit that they need a psychological support function, maybe even a philosophical support function, to help those members who reach a point of crisis. Chaplains are the poor best they have to offer and as an atheist I had no-one else to turn to to discuss ethics and morals. Let us rename this function "counsellor" for the moment, it makes more sense and is the way such people are often used. Humanists need guidance at times and telling them to "pray to God" for it is nonsensical.
Of course. But what does
make sense? What guidance could
a humanist chaplain give someone who has reached a crisis? On what would such a humanist chaplain base that guidance?
Dave B wrote:But, this supposes that any such post will require a great deal of experience and some wisdom - a humanist chaplain/counsellor in the armed forces who is a pacifist is of little use.
One doesn't have to be a pacifist to have doubts about particular military campaigns, or to wonder whether the best advice to give a young man or woman who has reached a crisis of doubt, depression and guilt might be "Get the hell out of here!"
Dave B wrote:So, I agree with Fia in that this is a function that is necessary in the armed forces, and I agree with Alan in that the concept of "chaplain" does not fit - but would the forces agree to "counsellor" I wonder?
They already have "counselors" in the US Navy,
although it sounds as though they're more like human resources managers and PR officers combined.
Dave B wrote: But, this "upgrading" of the fighting person may mean that you also have someone who will have more of a mind of his (or her) own. No serviceman is required to obey any order that is not "just and lawful" and, though they will still be trained to act as a united team, perhaps more will consider their orders before acting on them where possible.
With this the "counsellor" function will probably become almost essential - I am all for it.
With this, I'd have thought that the "counsellor" function would become almost impossible.
No, I wasn't sure at first, but I've decided that I agree with Alan C. I'm against this. If the armed forces need counsellors, then they need to admit it and do something about it. I think it would be wrong of humanist organisations to step in and help them out, by taking up the slack caused by a lack of religious chaplains
. However, if individual atheists and agnostics, whether they happen to call themselves humanists or not, want to take on the role of non-religious "chaplain", or counsellor, or legal and ethical adviser, not linked to any humanist organisations [---][/---] well, that's entirely up to them.
I think the issue of humanist chaplains in hospitals (and universities) is a very different matter.