and i left my friends behind me.


recently, i watched the first three episodes of generation kill. i watched it because david simon's (the wire) name was attached to it. it got me thinking about this idea that poor men these days don't have any choice but to sign up for the army. they are lured into it, supposedly, by promises of travel, of adventure, and then, should they make it out alive, an education and career and all that. i asked a few of my friends during the weekend whether or not they thought this was true, that poor men these days don't think they have any other choice but to enlist.

"they have other choices, but not good choices," one friend said. "they have other choices, but i think that signing up will help them pay for college," said another. i have no idea whether or not someone truly believes that joining the army, marines, or navy is his only option in life. i do know, though, that when someone signs up, he is fully accepting the fact that there's a good chance he might not make it back alive, and also that he might have to take another person's life. there's a good chance one might get killed in any line of work, so really, it's only the second part i have trouble digesting.

some might argue that it's got the same logic as training to be a police officer. that maybe, if one is lucky, he won't ever have to reach for his weapon. they really think they are spreading democracy, policing the world, making things "safer" for everyone. i have a hard time buying it, though. maybe it's that i've been brainwashed with so much liberal propaganda, or that i've watched too many documentaries and shows just like generation kill. i can see it, all the testosterone and hustler magazines, nonstop anti-gay and racist jokes. an individual probably gets so jaded, so sickened by all of it, that yeah, what does it matter should he kill an unarmed civilian?

it's strange, too, how when i asked that question, "do you really think they think they have no other choice?" the response was always something along the lines of, "well, they could be working at mcdonald's..." is working at mcdonald's really the worst job of all time? would the average person rather kill himself than have a forty hour week at mcdonald's? maybe not, but maybe he would rather kill someone else, and the armed forces provides that opportunity.

i don't know what i'm arguing or where this line of thought is going. i'll admit that right now. luckily, i have enough education, options, and family support that i will never have to join the army. and while our collective anger should rightfully be directed to a failed presidential administration, the system, the military-industrial complex (wherever you wish to direct your rage), i can't help but feel the individual should also be held accountable for his actions as well. ignorance isn't an excuse. it wasn't for george w., so why should it be for the average kill 'em all-listening, cheri-reading, haji-killer?

i guess what i'm trying to get at is: why did u.s. citizens boo and throw shit at soldiers returning from vietnam, soldiers who were drafted, who really didn't have a choice? but today, when our country is essentially going through the same fucked up mess we faced in vietnam, the average citizen puts up a sticker on his car that reads: "support our troops." support our troops, men and women in uniform who volunteered for this debacle. men and women who can kill foreigners without consequence.

and if i put up a sign or sticker that read, "fuck our troops," i'm pretty sure that even in the most liberal of cities, my ride would get vandalized, and i'd probably get the shit kicked out of me. but hey, let's all be grateful for our freedom of speech, right?

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