If we see war as futile in solving world problems, have we made that clear to our children? In what ways? How can we, as parents, set an example of what sort of world we want to see?
What if we brainstormed with our children, whatever their ages, about what they hope their future will hold, and what it will take to get there?
What if, at the same time, we spoke to them realistically of our concerns about living under a government devoted to war-making, both under Democrats and Republicans?
How could we protect our family members and our larger communities from a military draft?
What might we have to do, as parents and family members, to help our youngsters as they decide to resist our government's war-making?
As parents, we judge ourselves on how our children fare in the world. We are concerned for their well-being, and naturally we hope they will choose courses in life which reflect our values.
How is it, then, that so many young people in the U.S. have been recruited into the military, when polls show that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are unpopular and widely regarded as illegal and inhumane?
So how do we do so when most of us have been well-schooled to obey orders, whether from teachers or bosses, the IRS or the military?
It comes down to communication. Lots of it.
As Cindy Sheehan, whose son died in Iraq after enlisting in the U.S. military, has said, "We need to be getting to the soccer moms with babes in arms."
It's never too late to go to our kids, explain why we might have felt uncomfortable having such a conversation with them before, and talk about what they might do if they don't agree with war as a means to "solving" conflict. Let them know that they aren't alone in not wanting to fight, kill, and die at someone else's command, and that we'll support them if they choose to resist the military and the draft.
We need to sort out our own values and -- once we have, perhaps, reassessed our own lives -- give our kids a list of things we are willing to do to support their resistance. (For some of the things young people themselves can do, and have been doing, to resist the draft, see http://www.Resisters.info.) Here are some of the things we can do as parents:
Well-meaning activists sometimes demean poor people by suggesting that joining the military is the only way they can attain a college education.
Paying for college is hard, but there may be alternatives that don't require registering for the draft: the Fund for Education and Training (FEAT), work/study programs, living with parents instead of in a dorm, low-tuition community colleges, need-based scholarships at private colleges, scholarships for children of union members. And if the price of college is enlistment in the military, or the risk of being drafted, should we tell our children that college is worth that price?
What message do we send our children when we tell them graduating from a prestigious college is more important than living out their values? What message does this send to people worldwide about Americans' priorities? Is America really more enlightened, or do we have a superior way of life, because a higher percentage of our population goes to college? What is the message if we tell our children to compromise their beliefs to get college aid, but aren't willing to make comparable sacrifices in our own way of life to save money for our children's education, such as postponing major purchases, taking out loans of our own, or selling our car(s) and switching to public transportation?
[For more information, or to arrange a house party or a presentation to your group, contact the Radical Family Collective, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 510-895-2312. This page and more, including printable versions of leaflets in PDF format, are at http://www.resisters.info and http://www.MedicalDraft.info. This Web site is published by Edward Hasbrouck, individually and not on behalf of any organization including any of the organizations linked to. I have drawn on contributions over many years by many other people, and I do not claim copyright in this Web site, but I take full personal responsibility for it.]
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