Friday, August 13, 2010
Bravest Man I Know
How much courage does it take to give the speech that Ethan McCord gave at the Albany National Peace Conference in July?
In it he talked about the day of the events shown in the Wikileaks video "Collateral Murder" which he witnessed from the ground as a soldier pulling bleeding children from the rescue van where their dad lay dying. He walked us, step by step, through the video and explained what was happening. He told us: "If this video disgusts you, it should. It happens daily."
I met Ethan in Albany when he spoke briefly at the opening news conference. It was clearly difficult to talk about something that had happened years ago but that he says he lives with every day.
When we have to talk to a crowd of strangers about things that touch us deeply, most of us are afraid we will break down and cry. You could hear Ethan's voice tremble at times when he spoke. He was taking responsibility for his participation in a military occupation he has come to see as inhuman and immoral. That is hard to do in public also.
I can't think of a better way to bring the truth of military enlistment to young men seduced by the barrage of glamorous ad campaigns, and subjected to the sophisticated hard-sell tactics of recruiters who prey on them. Recruiters are in your shopping centers, on your websites, and in your public schools, in the lunchroom even.
How to be a man when you will not find a steady job to maintain a home and contribute to a family? How to afford even transportation to go out and look for work? How to get a college education without the G.I. bill? These are the choices young American men face today.
Young women face hard economic choices, too. But nobody implies they are less of a woman for not enlisting. There are special problems young males have in this messed up culture of ours. Ethan testified that when he told his commanding officer he wanted to talk to someone to get help for his PTSD he was told, "Stop being a pussy. Get the sand out of your vagina and get back to duty."
My youngest son just told me the other day he would like to have a T-shirt that World Can't Wait is selling as a fundraiser. It says "MILITARY RECRUITERS, GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME!" on the front and "We are not your soldiers" on the back. I went online here and ordered him one.
Personally I'm thinking about making and wearing a T-shirt of my own: "Proud to be a Pussy."
My heart goes out to everyone caught in the military machine our society has become. Support our troops -- bring them home. And hope they get to talk to someone brave like Ethan McCord when they return to us.