Asheville is a unique place. There are many people and groups in our small corner of the world who participate actively in the caring profession and make themselves visible in promoting justice and peace at home and abroad.
Walking my dog here and there, I discover how many young people are either working in the caring profession or attending college with the goal of entering the caring profession as a nurse, teacher or some field of healing. Add to this the numerous retirees who volunteer their time for worthy causes.
Even more visible are many groups advocating for peace and justice. The Veterans for Peace vigil every Tuesday at Vance Monument, and other groups such as the Physicians for Social Responsibility, WNC4PEACE and Just Peace for Israel/Palestine offer various kinds of activities inviting us to participate in the great work for peace and justice in the hope of creating a better world for our children.
Let’s support the local activists and religious groups who continue to shine a light in a prophetic manner and call us not to destroy, but to bring out what is best in our society and the world — to honor the sacredness of creation reflected in mature spiritual religions.
We have become a fearful country “measured” by our relationship to weapons and guns. There is a connection between our reliance on wars abroad and guns at home. This is reflected in our active or passive support of the “militarization of our country and our youth” in high schools. The war mentality has not and will not secure our happiness. It blinds us to the common good of humanity. Is this our legacy for children?
Militarization brings fear and distress that diminishes our collective capacity for the true and the beautiful. Our military responses result in permanent “undeclared” wars and a global military presence in over 100 countries as well as the militarization of our police and our youth in Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs in high schools.
I say “no” to the militarization of our youth in our public schools. We can do better than that with the ideals that reflect peace. Alternatives to JROTC can be found throughout the country that build self-esteem and aid positive educational goals better than the JROTC program; perhaps not as exciting to young students, but powerful in the effort to bring a better understanding of good citizenship, reconciliation, creativity, respect, empathy and compassion. In short, this would invest in our highest ideals.
The United States always has all the money it needs for wars and weapons, but never enough for public schools, low-cost housing, universal health care — values that can “Make America Great Again!” We can choose to become a beacon of hope to the world, welcoming refugees and a demonstration of democratic values serving the common good.
Educational funding needs be increased for the needs of our children, not for a political ideology. The military does not encourage freedom of thought, love of others, equality and the common good of humanity. This is a huge topic, as it reflects our way of life for future generations. Should the Army subsidize high school soldiering? Or, would it be better to subsidize teachers’ ongoing education and badly needed innovations in schools to inspire positive values for more people, including teachers, parents and the general public?
The militarization of our youth reflects a lack of faith in the goodness of humanity mirrored by those who suggest school teachers be armed and concealed weapons be allowed in public places, including churches.
We the people can speak out and vote for a future in which our country will match our desire for guns with our moral restraint; our wealth with our wisdom; and our military power with empathy, truth, goodness, and beauty. One place to start is to support genuine conservative values by educating our children, supporting families and respecting all who are in need.
May we live each day gentle in words, compassionate of heart and generous in love.
— Ed Sacco