I deployed with the Marines in Desert Storm, and with the Oregon Army National Guard in 2004. Today I train and work with veterans. A common image that I see on patches, hats, and so forth is an “infidel”.
This is a response to the supposed jihadists in the two countries we’ve fought in recently, Afghanistan and Iraq. They proclaim to be followers of Allah and fighting against the infidels. It is, then, a point of pride by some of my fellow warriors to proclaim themselves infidels, as in opposition to them. It has a fair amount of nose-snubbing to it.
But this is, again, a misplaced idea. How should a warrior define himself? Under what standard will you stand? Will you raise a standard that means what you will live for? What you will die for? By what you will place over your kith and kin? Or will you wear a patch that states you are defined as being something not of another. This is a negative identity. It draws itself from something else. It depends on something else for its essence.
First used in Middle English c. 1460 (adj., n.), from the Middle French infidle, and from Latin infidelis “unfaithful,” later “unbelieving,” In the 15c. meaning “a non-Christian” (especially a Saracen); later “one who does not believe in religion” (1526). Also used to translate Ar. kafir, from a root meaning “to disbelieve, to deny,” strictly referring to all non-Muslims but virtually synonymous with “Christian”; hence, from a Muslim or Jewish point of view, “a Christian.”
It is a word originally made by Christians and taken up by Muslims.
Imagine a scenario: You stand ready. You have your plate carrier (armor) on. You have some magazines of ammo in carefully thought out mag-pouches. You’ve got your rifle on a viking sling and a pistol on your chest. You stand ready to face whatever might come to threaten your home. As you stand there, awaiting the coming fight, a bystander walks up and looks at you to see that on the side of your helmet is a patch… an infidel patch. You see his befuddled look and you say “I don’t believe in their god”. The bystander shrugs his shoulders, gives a disinterested ‘meh’ and asks, but what defines you? What do you stand for?
I won’t wear a patch that says infidel. Not because I care about offending anyone (hint, I don’t give a damn), but because I am not defined by it. I am not defined by the offshoots of Abraham, the three angry siblings of a monotheistic god, too blind to see that they war with their own kind, each intent to call the other a heretic, non-believer, infidel, and so forth. Each is always ready to define the world in terms of holy and wicked. And often directed at each other. I guess three religions, each claiming a so-called truth of their monotheism, can’t really all be right. And within each of the three main branches of this family are many smaller branches, each carrying on the same we’re holier than you argument. For example, Christians might all be under the same tent, but I’ve spent enough time (too much) among them to hear many say that they (Baptists, Pentecostal, Methodists, etc…) were more Christian than they (Baptists, Pentecostal, Methodists, etc…). And within a specific sub-branch of a branch you may hear one form of Baptists bad mouth another form of Baptists as being too loose. Free Will Baptists versus Southern Baptists versus Old Regular versus…
But I digress. I don’t care what monotheists do. They can believe what they want, as long as they keep out of my affairs. When they seek to influence my government and my liberties, then I take issue. But aside from that, I care not what they do. I do not wear a patch on my armor that states I am not a Baptist, that would be idiotic.
Instead I wear Mjölnir around my neck. I am a follower of the Aesir and the Vanir. I know that Huginn and Muninn circle overhead and carry word of my deeds to the All-Father, Odin. If I am to stand before an enemy, he will know me not by what I disagree with, but for what I stand for. I will not be covered in the symbols, no matter how slight, of another. I will have Sowilo on my weapon, Algiz on my armor, and Uruz on my axe. I am not to be defined by your pettiness. I do not bow in submission to a jealous, petty god. Our gods demand we stand up and fight in this world to prove our virtue, not kneel to show our submission.
May Thor give me strength and courage, may Tyr give me battle luck and watch over my fight, may Odin give me battle wisdom and strength of strategy.