This I Believe

Kamal - Irvine, California
Entered on May 4, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: peace, question, war
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Generals who passed Boyish Stage

Most people who join the military or guerilla forces might be patriots with a passion to serve their countries using whatever they have including their muscles, knifes, arrows and trucks. Such people are admirable as protectors of all as long as they treat others the way they like to be treated, unless they suffer from sadomasochism. The blind military of corrupt, fanatic, and aggressive regimes as a whole do not qualify for such admiration, although they might have swimmers among them that crawl against the storm. I recall how the experience of seeing a blind military in action strengthened my pacifism.

Despite my claim to be a pacifist, I couldn’t agree more with a general who had stated that his military is the defender of secularism. It was interesting to hear a reasonable statement from a general of a country that had no common sense about how to treat its minorities. I was discussing this subject with a friend from a fanaticized country. She had no confidence in any military force, even the one in the democratic country she had chosen to migrate to. She argued that by default of her gender she belongs to the peaceful half of the population and therefore does not see any value in a force with the potential to create a war. I concurred with her but then had an “aha” experience about why some people lose their confidence in anybody who wears a uniform and carries a weapon. I then recalled my own experiences with the military.

Not by choice but by force I had to serve in one of the non admirable militaries as a soldier. For two years I did a compulsory service for an unusual country without believing in its system and the ideology of its hypocrites. Observing that the residents of the areas who spoke my language were the target of military attacks made me doubt if I was serving the right country. I remember the chief of staff had ordered his troops not to take off their boots until they eradicate the righteousness epidemic among our people who had demanded self determination rights. I still can not forget one of our fellow human beings who couldn’t escape the fire in his bombed house and was screaming “hawar sootem” until his last breath. His fault was that people in the region had demanded their language to be as official as the dominant language and also to be able to promote their endangered national heritage before it becomes fully extinct; at that time they had demanded a secular and federal system. Based on some evidence they still dream of a secular system but might have their lost hope in federalism as the just answer for their sacrifices.

I remember during my service in the war zone, I had hoped rather to be shot at than shoot at anybody. To be shot at, I even tried to raise one of my replaceable body parts, an arm, while protecting the irreplaceable one, my head. I hoped to end up in an area where I did not have to witness the atrocities directly. Instead of revenge or joining the opposing guerillas during the civil war, as a pacifist I shut up and without using my weapon ever I finished the service. As soon as they opened the gates as an exit to the free world, I left the unusual country that has closed the doors to any free and peaceful mind.

Retrospectively I recognized why some of us who have seen injustice by militarists might disregard anything a general has to say even if it is a reasonable argument to defend secularism, one of the major achievements of the enlightened, civilized, and free world. May be now after a quarter of century I have recovered from the traumatic experience of witnessing the growth of an unjust fanatic system and its forgotten megalomaniac civil war, and so can even see reason in a general’s statement. I believe a general who defends secularism and recognizes that exclusion of religion from public education and civil affairs is a service to all citizens and faiths has the potential to learn that having only one official language and ethnicity in a multinational and diverse territory is a disservice to all. I believe any general who has passed the boyish stage of preoccupation with power and one of its symbolic four letter words such as MKAT, the acronym for Muscles, Knifes, Arrows, and Trucks, deserves the title of a progressive public servants.