"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Friday, December 19, 2008

Teach Your Children Well, Their Father's Hell


Our children are, in a very real sense, our greatest resource. If we nurture and care for them and help them grow into adults with critical thinking skills and a strong ethical and moral base, just think of how they might change the world. But it is no easy task in a violent world that presents many temptations to lure them off the path of peace.

I have found that the most powerful stories tend to come from people's own experience. Penny Coleman, the widow of a Vietnam veteran who took his own life after coming home from that war, has written stories touched by that tragedy (and the lessons she learned). Her journey has led her to a deeper understanding of the roots of violence and war AND how they affect young people. She has just written an article that shows the fantastic efforts the Pentagon resorts to in order to "desensitize, condition, train and even enlist" young people to join the Armed Forces.

Penny's article, Kids Learn that Killing Is Fun at the Army's Lethal New Theme Park, is a fantastic voyage into the U.S. Army's bizarre and highly sophisticated marketing efforts to convince young people (and I mean YOUNG) just how cool it is to blow things up and KILL. You can imagine where it goes from there [Where do I sign???]. You must read the article to fully understand the lengths to which the Army is going to meet its recruiting goals (as we continue the occupation of Iraq and increase the numbers in our occupation of Afghanistan).

It makes me ask the question, "What are we teaching our children?" What future are we creating when we teach them that violence is the way? Is it not bad enough that the vast majority of Americans have sat idly as we have invaded sovereign nations, occupying them, and terrorizing, imprisoning, displacing, torturing, injuring and killing vast numbers? And then to allow our children to be seduced by recruiters using what they refer to as "interactive simulations and online learning programs to educate visitors about the many careers, training and educational opportunities available in the Army"?

As the article reminded me, "A provision of No Child Left Behind, one of the first pieces of legislation proposed by the Bush administration, forced schools to open their doors to recruiters and provide contact information for students as young as 11."

What do we, as parents, want to teach our children? What values do we want to instill in their fragile, pliable minds? They are the future, and what they experience as their brains develop will follow them into adulthood where they will be making the decisions that we too have made. We can only hope they will do better than this generation.

We (as parents) do not have to sit idly by. Besides the values of nonviolence that we can demonstrate in our homes and in our daily interactions that our children observe, we can RESIST the provision in No Child Left Behind that provides information on our children to military recruiters.

You can notify your high school administration in writing of your desire to have your child's (or children's) records kept secret and out of the hands of those pesky recruiters. It IS your right!

If your school has not notified you and provided a way to opt out (and they ARE required to do both), click here to download an Opt-Out Form from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).

You can learn more, including alternatives after high school at AFSC's extensive Youth and Militarism Web page.

Teach Peace,


1 comment:

Adam said...

There is an excellent children’s book called Other People’s Shoes. It does a great job of teaching kids the importance of kindness inside of a very captivating story. You should check it out! Here is a link: www.eloquentbooks.com/otherpeoplesshoes.html