Sunday, December 21, 2014

What is an Army?

What is an army?

It's a pretty weird question. It's a philosophical thought I had a couple weeks back, and I wrote it on a little blue thank you note. That led to a thank you note containing all my life goals; I'm almost asking the universe to cause a mix-up and send all my life goals to someone.

Getting off-topic. Sorry.

So what is an army? As I said, it's a weird question, but it sort of warrants some thought. I mean, is it just a bunch of people with guns? Does it take a nationality or cause?

Before you go any further, I'd like to just mention: I thought this up late at night and it is currently late at night so I might be not-smart right now. Ugh. Words.

"Words," I say disdainfully, writing a blog post.

Several minutes of off-topic thoughts and distractions later...

What are the qualifiers that turn a group of people into an army? Weapons immediately come to mind, but that's not true -- a mob is a form of army, right? Armies have existed who fight with their fists?

Dictionary.com says (looking it up in a dictionary is NOT cheating. Yeah, I can say that, I made up the freakin' game) gives four definitions of an army.

...I am at the stage of tiredness where I can no longer count. This doesn't bode well for the quality of the blog post. Five definitions, not four; sorry.
1.
the military forces of a nation, exclusive of the navy and in some countries the air force.
2.
(in large military land forces) a unit consisting typically of two or more corps and a headquarters.
3.
a large body of persons trained and armed for war.
4.
any body of persons organized for any purpose.
5.
a very large number or group of something; a great multitude; host.
Well, sure. I suppose I can agree with those.

The one we're thinking of now is #3, right? But wait... #3 is inaccurate. An army doesn't have to be armed - we just discussed that - and it doesn't really have to be trained. But then, what the hell is an army?

If you told a bunch of people they were the Orillian Army of Orillia, sworn to protect the nation's people, would they be an army?

Well, no. You can't involuntarily be part of an army, right? So that's yet another qualifier that doesn't exist.

The definition of an army is becoming pretty loose... let's go back to definition #3 from before. Our improved version reads "a large body of persons for war." As in, a large group of people whose intention - as a goal - is war.

Oh dear lord. I looked at that for about five seconds and realized the only two qualifiers... well, except for persons... are wrong too. And... wait... nope, persons is wrong as well. Damn these vague definitions!

Let's start with "large." Does an army have to be large? The trouble is, this involves opinions -- how large is "large?" I'd say no. Relying on an adjective which is itself a matter of opinion is bad here because we're trying to get a perfectly correct definition.

Now, let's look at "war." That's not right, is it? I mean, the U.S. Army still exists when we're not at war. Armies can also be used as law enforcement, or border protection, or defenders against ancient long-lost races emerging from the sea with the intention of razing our cities and devouring our children... or, y'know, whatever.

So we've narrowed it down to "a body of persons." This is starting to sound suspiciously like other words... crowd, group, and party come to mind.

But YAY let's remove more qualifiers! Who needs those stupid things after all? NOT US, THAT'S FOR SURE!

Armies can consist of entities other than human beings. Ants? A special form of ant, the army ant, can form - you guessed it - armies. So yeah, it's not just a human term.

"a body." We've narrowed down our definition of an army to become "a body."

I can't see any way of fixing this, so... yeah. An army is "a body."