This I Believe

Rebecca - Washington, District of Columbia
Entered on December 18, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: war

I believe that war is personal and the personal is political. Each time I turn on the TV, read a newspaper or news site, I’m waiting for the ever-maligned feeling to wash over me. The feeling is lost breath, terror, pain and desperation. Why can’t we just keep our damn hands out of situations that kill? Why can’t we just have a military that’s a way for kids to get an education and not a funeral?

The reward for someone yelling for 12 weeks should not be a body bag. The reward should be travel, more hard work and free school. Throw in student loan forgiveness and you’ve got gravy.

The cliché of the day is true across the board: the personal is political. While choice is an issue near and dear, let’s reexamine the idea for a moment.

Personal is family, friends, life and strife. People growing up in need of money, education and a future, looking deep inside. As their recruiter hopes they will—for if they look deep within, to Patriotism, Valor and Honor, they will see that their duty is to serve. School and money are perks. The decision is decidedly personal. With or without options, there is a choice.

Personal is also found in waiting mothers, sisters, fathers and friends. The personal is the fear that, at any given moment, someone might mention a soldier dying and drive those left behind off the delicate precipice they call “hanging on to hope.” That’s personal. That’s real. That’s something that “the political” needs to recognize.

As we forge ahead, in search of more conflict and hatred, we must consider those left behind. Those returned and those who don’t have that luxury. The phone rings and fear takes over. Stay away from the news if you don’t want your worry to wrap around you like a straightjacket. Walk away when you hear key words: military (any branch), war (on terror, choice, drugs—word desensitization is the only thing that seems to be working), the possibilities are endless, but the key is to walk away rather than explode.

There are those to whom war is merely political. Whether they’re pro or con, they’re thinking on another plane. There are those who think so little of our armed forces that they scoff at anyone dumb enough to enlist. There are those who think in terms of numbers, not people.

There may never be a day that fear stops taking over when I run across a “breaking story.” There will never be a day that I don’t think of the forgotten ones, whether the military or the public forgot them isn’t important. I will probably always have a frog in my throat, croaking out some absurd excuse to leave the room when the conversation inevitably turns to conflict and our utter inability to avoid it.

Personally and politically, I want my brother to be safe.