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I have an opinion on the present war, just as you probably have one.

Do you remember Vietnam? Are you old enough to remember? I remember. I was a child. Do you know what I remember? I remember watching a man in uniform spit upon. I remember a lot of angry people shouting. I didn't really understand what was going on. I wasn't really a part of it. I was an outside observer watching with child's eyes. I remember the man wiping the spit off and walking away. I remember being upset because the people were so mean to this man. It wasn't until years later that I understood. The understanding didn't change anything. Angry people were rude because they disagreed with a policy that this one man did not make. He did what he was told. He went where he was told. He was a member of the military. He put his life on the line. He probably had friends that died and had friends that were hurt. He probably had all sorts of health problems as a result. And this is what he came home to. He came home to disrespect. And when I understood this, I felt shame that the people of my country would treat their own youth thusly. I remember.

My grandfather was a pacifist. He grew up during WWI, fought in WWII. He didn't really have much of a choice. My other grandfather also fought in that war, but on the opposite side. There is death and pain on both sides. Opa showed me both sides. War is a sad and angry thing. Many people are affected. Many people are touched. It is not always as cut and dry as it appears. Both sides lose something. The ripples flow out in all directions. My views are shaded by his.

I overheard someone making a comment. "Hey, he signed up for it. If he didn't want to lose his leg, he shouldn't have signed up." I was angry. All I could think was this. He is disconnected from it. He doesn't know anyone involved. If he did, he would not have voiced such a comment. Do you know someone in the middle of this? I do. I fall asleep at night to the sounds of my over active imagination each time he is sent away. Every pause in the day, I taste dust. I can not help it. While he is gone, I hold my breath. And when he returns, I slowly exhale and give thanks. I do not want my son to be spit upon when he comes home from a tour. I don't want him to bear the brunt of anger for following orders handed down from above. I don't want to hear that it was his choice to join the military. Do you know that there are many reasons why our youth choose to serve? Have you ever asked one, why? It is not so black and white. You can be as angry as you want to be. All I ask is that you put your anger where it belongs, not on our young people putting their lives on the line.

Have you lost someone who touched your life? I have. He took me to my senior dance in high school. He was a childhood friend. He didn't think it was right that I shouldn't go, that no one in my school had asked me, so he says to me, "I'll take you" and he did. I remember that act of friendship. His helicopter was shot down over Afghanistan at the start of all this mess. He left behind a wife and two children. He left ripples. I will always remember.

I have an opinion on the present war. My opinion is this. It makes no difference whether I believe it to be right or wrong. It makes no difference what "side" I am on. People are dying on all sides. The fact is our children are there. Our youth. They need to know we'll be here for them. I want my son to know that I love him and that I miss him and that I think about him. I want him to come home safe. And I will always, always support him, regardless of anyone else's opinion.

As an outsider to the US, I am continuously appalled at how deeply militarism and war are entrenched into the identity of US nationals. It seems like virtually every citizen of the US either has a family member involved with the military or a very close friend "serving", as the euphemism goes, in the US military. Or when they don't, at least very few people would question that joining the military is an honourable, decent way to make a living.

This is not normal. How does military culture in the US consistently mix in with civilian culture? How can war be constantly glorified in the media, in movies, in books? Why is it so hard to find an American who doesn't have someone close who is in the military? Well, compare the military power of the US to the rest of the world, to any other country. The US alone has enough firepower to blow up the Earth ten times over. Here's a slightly more objective perspective: the US spends twice as much as the next biggest military spender, which is the entirety of the European Union. It has 12 aircraft carriers, while the next biggest collection cruisers of is the UK's 5; 22 cruisers followed by 5 in Russia. It has 72 nuclear submarines, with the immediate runner-up also being Russia with 28. Its nuclear weapons stockpile is 9,200 warheads, this time tailing Russia's 16,000 warheads.

In short, the US is a massively, massively militarised country, way above and beyond any other country. All those nukes, tanks, soldiers, fighter planes, submarines, and aircraft carriers cannot exist without the support of billions upon billions of taxpayer's dollars, taxpayers that must apparently agree at some level with this militarisation that could not continue without their support. The fact that these taxpayers are being fed, are getting gasoline in their cars, are living in one of the world's richest countries, and overall content enough to not stage a widespread revolt in protest of their country's militarisation, leads me to believe that they must at the very least passively support the wars that bring them such comforts, and at worst actively advocate their continuation at the expense of the rest of the world.

In fact, it appears that the citizens of the US have been in agreement of war since the creation of the country. Since the US was created, by a bloody revolution, the US has been in almost continual military activity, mostly with itself during its fledgling years. The necessity to militarise every US national soon became so important to the Continental Congress, that they included amongst one of the basic rights and tenets of the new nation the right to a military and with it, the right to kill. The US military activities soon expanded into its neighbours with Canada in the north and Mexico in the south, then moved on to Caribbean countries with Cuba, and later took their military to a more global scale when they deemed it profitable to enter The Great War and secure a worldwide foothold as military masters, all this without taking into account the countless military activities whether at home or abroad that do not fall within any clearly marked war. War and conquest worked for Alexander, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, and it's working damn well for Columbia. There is no other way to maintain the American way of life than to be in constant war with anyone possible. War stimulates the economy, creates jobs, gives good spoils, stifles individual freedom, and unites the country against a common enemy. War is good for business.

To put it succinctly, the US has always been at war with the world.

As a result of this deeply militaristic national identity, moral justification and rationalisation to themselves is expressly necessary. Thus the euphemistic language of militarisation, people's countries or homes become "targets", death becomes "casualty", torture becomes "advanced interrogation technique". It's not the Department of War as it once was until 1947, but now the Department of "Defense". You don't kill, you "neutralise". All of this coated with ideologies of freedom, defense, protection, and democracy. All to secure The American Way. And so on. Layer upon layer of doublethink and newspeak.

A big part of the language of militarisation is the "our boys" rhetoric. Since like I said at the beginning, war touches personally the friends and families of virtually every US citizen, they need a justification as to why their friends and families are off in foreign lands killing or helping kill other people. The atrocity of war is nowadays not lost on even the densest individuals. They understand, at least since Vietnam when images of war came directly into every home of the US, that war means death and massacre, and at least in a remote sense, they understand that their boys, "our boys", are there in the midst of that death and massacre.

But our boys are good overall. They're ours after all. They are the same quiet boys who do their chores, went to school, help old ladies cross the street, and woo pretty girls. So why are our boys out there in that horrible war? Simple. They really don't want to be there. They're doing their duty, just another chore that good boys like ours do. They are doing the best they can amidst this horrible war no individual can stand up to and nobody can do anything about it but follow it along. Good boys, good boys out there killing or helping kill because they can't help it.

Phooey, I say, to put it mildly.

There is always a choice. There's a choice to go to jail. There's a choice to desert. There's a choice to flee the country. There's a choice to bring victimisation by your unjust, deceitful, warmonging government upon yourself instead of massacring people abroad. It may not be an easy choice, certainly not a comfortable choice, but if it were given to me, I would take it immediately. I am not going to murder or collaborate however indirectly with the murder of any other human being, no matter what rhetoric is used to guide me to it. There is no glory here, no patriotism, no national security or defense, only humans dying and suffering. You cannot compare the relatively harmless rudeness of spitting on the face of one such murderer or collaborator, however unwilling they may claim to be, with the crimes they committed abroad, either directly or even by passive negligence. I would spit on the face of every member of the military if it would help bring an end to the war machine, starting with its propaganda arm.

Don't get me wrong. They are your boys, and you're perfectly allowed to love them as much as you want. I'm just saying that your love should not be in any way construed to justify or forgive what they are doing and collaborating with out there. Your love for your boys doesn't make it all right.

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