Today, no teenager in America can remember a time when our country was at peace. Congress has not officially declared war, but our fighting forces in the 21st century are still active in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Libya, and have more military bases on the planet than any other country.
The truth of war is hidden by political spin, distorted ideology supported by corporate media, all substituting a way of life that accepts violence over a mature, spiritual religious faith. This under the umbrella of the so called “free market” claimed necessary, not for the common good, but for ever-increasing wealth as marketed by conservative and liberal elites. Part of this way of life, the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, funded by American taxpayers, is accepted in high schools here and across our country.
It is encouraging that the Land of the Sky United Church of Christ in Asheville invited the local Veterans for Peace during the Christmas season to bring the issue of peace to children. Creating a healthy society requires us all to educate and create healthy young adults, and inspire a public spirit that leads to peace, love, compassion and a readiness to be involved in helping others.
I recommend that we have equal funding matching JROTC to encourage non-military programs that include loyalty, selfless service, personal courage and obedience in the service of peace and justice. These include professions such as teaching, nursing and social work to educate children, energize families and build communities of hope that hunger for justice, honesty and peace. Some form of a democratic spiritual healing process is needed to unite our country and the world.
Our churches, schools and media, as well as parents, have a profound responsibility to teach and inspire values that will create healthy young adults. No one escapes this responsibility. Educating our children is too important to leave to “political leaders” and wealthy elites. We need to take on militarism, racism and the extreme materialism of our consumer society.
Local Veterans for Peace members and other local groups are calling attention to the militarization of our country and our children. It is not a liberal or conservative issue, a Democratic or Republican ideology, but a moral issue for humanity. The United States is the only nation [apart from Somalia] that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which forbids military recruitment of children.
Our materialistic modern society snuffs out the best of a healthy childhood. We all bear some degree of responsibility to inspire and ignite the imagination, instilling a love of learning and service to others that leads to active participation in our democracy. Imagine a more just world infused with the responsibility for others. Imagine children inspired by awe and wonder, an innate joy and curiosity for learning. Our youth and young adults are the future.
For info on local peace and justice activities, contact email@example.com and/or local veterans: [avl.mx/5of].
— Ed Sacco