The Band of Brothers episode, Why We Fight, is a testament to the bravery of our past. Yet, with time to reflect, some soldiers wonder if the fight was worth the number of lives lost. Then Americans encounter the Kaufering IV concentration camp. Liebgott asks, “Was is das hier? [Why are you here?].” Turning to Winters, Liebgott states, “He says it’s a work camp for, uh, unerwuenschter. I’mI’m not sure what the word means, sir, uh, unwanted, disliked, maybe? Further clarifying, “No. Actors, musicians, tailors, clerks, farmers, and intellectuals. Ordinary people.” Yes, the episode is a powerful reminder of American bravery, but it’s a lesson to guide our future.

If we look at the growth of Nazism through a historical lens, we might see reminders of America today. Efforts by current GOP leadership include banning books, removing long-established rights, anti-LGBTQ initiatives, anti-Asian, denying healthcare services based upon one’s moral conscience, lawsuits against businesses simply for voicing an opinion about fundamental human rights, anti-diversity, equity, and inclusion, forbidding managers of retirement funds from taking environmental, social, and governance into account, determining who can own real estate, pairing down the right to vote to ensure that only a minority can vote. There’s also the attempted overthrow of the government, medical lies about COVID, and the selling of fake medicines as the truth (ivermectin). The Republican National Committee (RNC) declared the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol “legitimate political discourse.”

Whether Buddhist, Christian, or atheist, you must repel the hatred of white supremacy or fascism. We must choose the Middle Way, the path between two extreme views of what we are. One picture says that if we’re different, we are different, which is permanent. In such a view, one might say, “I am white; you are black. Therefore, ‘you,’ (the black person or whatever) are bad.’’ Another argument is that there are soldiers and pacifists. The current GOP seems to honor warriors. Liberals are evil or socialists. These default views are wrong. Such animalistic views are permanently wrong, forever.

One might claim, “Well, you, Mr. Unknown Buddhist, are not the picture or embodiment of love.” So true. In my days of military service, I saw something terrible and did something terrible. I did something, or he failed to do something that made me ashamed, even today. I even claim that I don’tdon’t deserve to be loved because of these actions. In my early 60s, I sometimes get out of bed from a nightmare and punch a couch pillow. I still hear those I’ve offended.

America and Americans are indeed the products of our history, but it doesn’t mean we can’t make choices. Those who sacrificed their lives during WWII might say that our upbringing and circumstances constrain us, but we can still make decisions and liberate ourselves from the hatred of the past and today. In the Middle Way, when we see each other objectively and compassionately, we embrace our struggles. We do not entirely control every life, but we work as teammates. Neither are we permanently doomed to repeat the same patterns. We’re in the middle. And in the middle is love. When we meet in the middle, we can meet each other for real because we are all in the middle.

America doesn’t need Steve Bannon. America doesn’t need Donald Trump. We don’t require Enrique Tarrio or Stewart Rhoades. All they’ve done is create a metaphorical Kaufering 2023. And Kaufering 2023 is only about one thing: Power.

However, the real power is God’s love. And if you believe that Christ overcame death, moved that stone, and rose to life to fill the world with love, that’s something worth embracing. The lessons of ‘Why We Fight’ is the very reason ‘Why We Must.’