Identity Crises in the midst of Actual Crises

I had been planning to address this a while ago, but then I fell off the Procrastinators Anonymous wagon. I'm back on now, though.

Many modern works (Evangelion and Battlestar Galactica, to take two examples from among those I've been discussing) seem to think that the kind of "existential" angst so common in our society, the angst expressed in midlife crises and similar psycholigical issues of the modern era, is a necessary part of character-development...even in war stories.

The only problem with that is...there are no midlife crises in a foxhole. When the war is clearly a matter of survival, nobody asks, as characters in both aforementioned series do, what it is they're fighting for. They're fighting for the privilege of not dying. The American Army occasionally wondered whether they ought to go on fighting, during the Vietnam War--even before the home front started to go against them. The Israeli Army during that state's various conflicts? Not so much. "Why don't I quit?" is not a legitimate question, in a war of direct, immediate peril.

That's why Shinji (in Evangelion) and the various empty uniforms in BSG, are so laughable, when they ask questions like that. When your going out in an EVA is all that stands between your friends and being annihilated by an Angel; when your doing your duty on the Galactica's bridge, or going out in a Viper, are all that stand between humanity and being consigned to the Cylons' dustbin of history--well, what are you whining about? "Why am I fighting?" Uh...Gee, Davy, do you think it might be so everyone precious to you doesn't die?

There's a big difference between that kind of angst and that in, say, the vastly-underrated Gundam Wing. In that, the angst of the five Gundam pilots is much more understandable: do I continue to fight for my ideal, or surrender, and be content with the liveable but less-than-ideal? That question is perfectly legitimate, and a matter of what Christian moral theology calls prudential judgment. That is the question asked in every great revolution: how far do we push for our ideal, and how far must we be content with what the other side will give us?

I think I'd better enumerate these points, since the idea here is fairly subtle.
1. When a war is a matter of immediate survival, it is not legitimate to question whether one ought to keep fighting--unless one is going to contemplate the morality of suicide (and the Flachkopfe who wrote BSG wouldn't do that; that would mean questioning one of their purely-conventional "morals").
2. Some wars are legitimate matters of defense, of oneself or some third party, but are not matters of immediate survival. In such a war it is not really legitimate simply to ask why one ought to keep fighting, if it is not in doubt that it is a matter of defense. This is why all sane people disapprove of desertion by soldiers. You don't disapprove of that, you say, necessarily? Read on, kid.
3. Sometimes it is legitimate to question whether a war is a matter of legitimate defense. If the answer is no, then it is probably legitimate to cease to fight it--although if one's commanders don't agree, one is still legally a deserter.

More broadly, it is probably not legitimate to seriously entertain the question, "Should I keep it up?" if one is, in any way, charged with the survival of dependents--let alone to answer in the negative and act upon it. What if it interferes with something called, rather hazily, "self-actualization?" Well, unfortunately, the only way to actualize oneself, is to be what is (somewhat simplistically) called "morally good." What we call "good" is really only the full actualization of the nature of whatever being is under discussion (this is the true meaning of "Natural Law"; accept no substitutes). The fact that this actualization also entails the being achieving the fullness of its Existence, is the reason that morality is (for anyone not an English flathead) inextricably bound up with God (Who is, after all, the essence of that Existence).

P.S. Does anyone else think it's funny, given the nature of existence, that the only two intelligent existentialists (Camus and Heidegger) considered themselves atheists? They were bad at metaphysics, sure (denying essences is bad philosophy, unless you're a monist), but that's just sad--if you are primarily concerned with a matter most easily expressed as, "I AM," exactly how is it that you call yourself an atheist?