I had a fairly interesting, if exhausting, Friday afternoon. I spent it surrounded by teenagers. So it was a good afternoon. I was teaching them some new skills and bumping them just out of their comfort zones, so it was a little bit exhausting. But mostly it was fun, because this group of teens is full of humor and good spirits and I enjoy spending time with them.
It’s a group of teens (and their moms or other parental units) that the LightChildren and I joined about a year ago to add some fun, fieldtrippy kind of activity to our school. We meet once a week and do “stuff” together. We’ve built things at the National Building Museum. We’ve sorted eyeglasses with a local Lions Club. We’ve done a scavenger hunt at an art museum. We’ve gone to countless movies, played laser tag, board games and gone swimming in a variety of water sources. We’ve built structures out of canned goods. We’ve thought really hard about building medieval siege weapons. This past Friday we made Cooling Neck Wraps for soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will donate them through an organization known as Operation Gratitude (if you want to donate some stuff to soldiers, you can click on that link and find out how). There we were a room full of teenagers learning how to iron, and mark and sew. Of course, they are teenagers so the ratio of talking to working was kind of high, but we still got a good bit done. And the teens peeked out of their comfort zones just a little and looked around. It was good for everyone.
Me? I felt like a walking signboard for irony that afternoon. I despise those wars. I think I’ve made it pretty clear here in my little corner of teh webz that I do not believe in the principle of a just war. Nor do I believe that it is our role to play policeman throughout the world. In short, we overstepped in a huge way in both countries, so why did I expend considerable time and effort supporting the soldiers of these wars?
Some days I’m not so sure of that myself. Other days I remember what it’s like to be in the Army. You are not your own. The service owns you and unless an order is specifically illegal, you must obey it. You cannot volunteer for service and then claim conscientious objector status because you think the war is illegal. That just doesn’t fly, especially since we’ve been at war for 10 and 8 years now. So we/I cannot hold the soldiers responsible for these wars; they are doing their best in a bad situation. I feel for them. Patriotic mythology notwithstanding, they have been put in harm’s way by an empire that views them as fodder for it’s mill. I can but attempt to remember their humanity.