World Can’t Wait | December 18, 2018
Nothing we could write could convey more effectively what it means for students vulnerable to joining the U.S. military to hear from veterans conscious of how they could lose their humanity by enlisting. And that’s only half of the story.
Most of the students whose classes we visit, whether in high school or college and despite having lived in a state of war for all or most of their lives, do not know about the seven wars being carried on in their names nor the realities of the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Lyle, John, Miles, Joe and Bruce, via the WeAreNotYourSoldiers project, each spoke to hundreds of students this year, sharing their hard-earned experiences.
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“I really appreciate you guys coming and taking your time to educate us about the military. I always hated war and I always asked myself why people fight and who benefits from war. I think you guys answered that and now I feel like countries that have more money are spending all their money on arms and not on their people. I’ve been against the wars for a long time but I never knew there was someone else or a whole community that is against the warsand helping stop people from going to war.”
“I always thought that the military was a place where men get stronger, responsible and respectful. However, your story and what you told us made me realize how bad it is. Honestly, I still believe that is different is certain places, but now I have many doubts. If I had to advise someone about going in the military, I would say no. Thank you so much for opening my mind. I thought you go there to fight for your country in a way that you can be honored. But no,I’d rather stay home instead of being part of discrimination and dehumanization. They should stop discrimination but they are teaching it. I think it’s so wrong to be part of this thing. People shouldn’t die due to wrong teachings. Thank you again. It was really helpful.”
“Many people like me have been blind-sided by the military. There is a sense promoted by the military to show people that joining that military is a form of love of a person for his country. You guys have exposed the truth that goes on behind closed doors. Many people are offered many military privileges which make them want to join the military. Telling people the truth about what really goes on during the wars and at the camps is such an eye-opener to a lot of us. Once again, thank y’all.”
Teacher from a small high school for recent immigrants
“I want to reach out to you, Miles Megaciph, to give you a heartfelt thank you for honoring our students with your stories, spoken word and discussion on your experiences in the military and why you don’t support recruiters targeting high school students. The students were inspired by your involvement with various social activist movements through peaceful protest and rap. The discussions and reflections we had in class were even richer after your talk with us. I wish you could’ve heard! One student said, ‘I was definitely planning on joining the military because my aunties are in the military, but after hearing him speak about boot camp, nah, I don’t want to.’ Other students thought it was so cool that you trusted them enough to speak from your heart and be vulnerable in front of them. Adults don’t do that, they said…. Your teaching will continue throughout the year and beyond.”
A teacher from a large traditional high school
“Just wanted to thank you AGAIN for spending a truly engaging, thought-provoking day with us. The work you do is incredibly vital for young people like my students, all of whom were enthusiastic, moved, and grateful in their responses when I asked them for their thoughts on your visit in class the next day. I’m constantly trying to raise consciousness (and consciences…), but it is often a tough, uphill trek, so I’m happy to have your help in the mission. I would love to have you back next year sometime to meet a new batch of students!
In the meantime, please keep doing the work you’re doing — I know how exhausting it is but I promise you it is worth it!”