In 100 B.C. Su-ma Ch’ ien added these words to the book The Art of War, “The skillful employer of men will employ …the stupid man…the stupid man has no fear of death.” He was writing advice to generals who were to” be entrusted with a position of authority.” It is required reading at most of the best US military colleges. This insidious notion that some soldiers are chosen because they are of an inferior breed is a horrible thought, to imagine that men who lay down their lives are seen by those in charge as totally expendable, is reprehensible. It is with these thoughts in mind that I write the following words to my five children and all the children of the world.
Do not die a stupid death, my sons and daughters. It is a sad reality when you have thought that you were dying for a worthy cause, but the truth is you were most likely dying because our government only thinks of you as stupid. Those of you in high school, working, unemployed or in college need to know that there is honor in resisting war, there is dignity and character in asking about student deferments or what is a conscious objector. War is not the only way to show how brave, wise and covetous you can be in this one life here on earth.
The corporate oligarchies and the hegemonic governments of the world thus far have embraced the panacea of war. The soldiers who come from poorer families are led to believe that it is in their best interest when war is wagged, when in fact the opposite is true.
This coercion of the soldiers of the poorer areas of the world has taken on a new form that at first seems democratic. In Emma Goldman’s day the soldiers of the poor were drafted, conscripted; it was demanded by the government to serve in the military. Only today in America’s “volunteer” army the poor are socially coerced through oppression and manipulation. Nobody is drafted, no conscription, it seems unnecessary as the falseness of a volunteer army is organized coupled with unbelievable technological advances that present a sense of security and safety to the soldiers of death and the population in general. But, in fact, there are many oppressive ways the government, the state, those lovers of war, make us think that we want a uniform, a gun, a bomb, to be used to kill.
In East Los Angeles, California, which has a large immigrant population from Mexico, Central and Southern American countries, soldiers are embedded in high schools. The military recruiters in these working class schools glorify war, showing pictures that vindicate, sanitize the death and destruction, which is the essence of what they will be instructed to carry out. Recruiters prey on the compassionate youth by enticing them with money, cash up front and more money later to pursue a college education. The military’s intension is not honorable because they prey on the absolute vulnerability of those in need, those whose choices are dictated by horrible educational systems and inferior medical availability. These students will do anything to shift the burden of poverty from their parents and family, who are mostly, paid minimum or sub minimum wages that put them below the poverty level and eons away from a living wage. If the military were honorable, they would give scholarships without obligation to service, but on the need for advancement academically of the bright minds that seek higher education.
Some young men, like Juan Carlos said, “The soldiers are only doing their job. What you said was insulting to them.” Referring to the lines about how some of the corpses in past wars would “shutter the thought that they died a stupid death.” is not easy to hear. Juan is correct, but throughout history the classic teachings of war are based on this insulting premise.
Just last week president Bush upped terrorist organizations in the amount of money that would be paid to family members if they send sons or daughters and they die in the Iraq war.
WASHINGTON – Just before the President's State of the Union Address Wednesday night, the administration aimed to defuse one of the hottest issues on Capitol Hill by proposing a nearly $250,000 hike in the death payments for US troops killed in combat.
My sons and daughters do not think for a minute that any amount of fool’s gold could ever replace your beautiful life. If a government sends people to war because they think they are stupid and will die for them, then we must resist both of these insults. The government only preys on your compassion for the plight that your family is in because they refuse to supply a living wage, medical benefits, and diverse education for all people. Your life can never have a value in terms of dollars and cents; it can only have value if you stand up for peace and not war. Do not die a stupid death, my sons and daughters.