[sixties-l] from a child's point of view

From: Joe McDonald (joe@countryjoe.com)
Date: Fri Jun 23 2000 - 18:07:07 CUT

  • Next message: William Mandel: "Re: [sixties-l] All Quiet on the Western Front - plain text"

    When i was very young i learned from my mother about the death camps for
    jews in World War 2. My mother and i had many arguments about
    jewishness. i could not understand how we, as non believers and non
    practicing jews, could be killed for being jewish. My mother said "when
    the pogroms come, they will find you". My own thoughts as a child were
    "i will run away from those trying to kill me".

    Later as a parent i realized the horrible truth: that running with a
    family is very hard. The children don't travel well and a group is a
    larger target than just one person. Also i realized that i was defined
    as a jew by jew haters not by myself. Also i came to realize that my
    mother was suffering from "survivor guilt" and PTSD from her experience
    of being the child of Russian, jewish immigrants.

    During the American War in Vietnam i found myself identifying with the
    children of Communist cadres who often were killed along with their
    parents. Today many armies of the world use children not only as
    soldiers but as objects. All societies have laws governing the age of
    maturity making children the property of their parents or the state
    until a certain age.

    During the American War in Vietnam i also identified with the American
    soldiers because i was a military veteran myself, having enlisted as a
    child of 17 yrs.

    Most people do not grow up with the reality i grew up in: that certain
    people are wanting to kill you and can. Also as a red diaper baby the
    reality that my parents politics made us the object of hate and danger.

    Is it fair to place such a burden upon children? As adults we discuss
    and examine all the pros and cons of war. As children we are forced to
    react to the reality of the situation we have inherited by birth. All
    red diaper babies know what i am talking about. All military brats know
    what i am talking about. All parents know what i am talking about.

    Without a live and let live attitude we are constantly faced with the
    challenge to do the right thing or the wrong thing. Some of us are
    forced to acts of extremism just by birth alone! It always amazed me
    that people born into comfortable middle class establishment families
    would take it upon themselves to join up with minority groups facing
    constant turmoil and harassment in the name of political or religious

    James Stockdale talks in his book LOVE AND WAR about how they went into
    the Hanoi Hilton Communist prison in Hanoi believing that they would not
    talk but soon discovered that everyone talks under torture. We all like
    to believe that we can be heroes and take it. As an adult and parent
    now i realize that no one can endure forever. Attrition takes its
    toll. There is a sacrifice that old soldiers make, or that is forced
    upon them. A person cannot fight on endlessly without giving up

    My only reaction to the death of Che Guvarra was that he should have
    been home with his family. This was the reaction of the child in me
    that lived with parents that seem to love the "people" more than their
    own children.

    Adventurism is a good word to describe all kinds of conflict. But then
    again there is a reality of fighting for your life or fighting for your
    basic rights.

    If i have learned anything from my own personal experience it is that
    being an unheroic member of the elite upper class is the safest and
    nicest of all positions to be in, far away from conflict. To not be
    forced by birth to make hard decisions.

    May we all live together in peace some day. cheers, country joe

    -- "Ira Furor Brevis Est " - Anger is a brief madness

    country joe Home Pg <http://www.countryjoe.com>
    country joe's tribute to Florence Nightingale
    Berkeley Vietnam Veterans Memorial
    Rag Baby Online Magazine <http://www.ragbaby.com/magazine>

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Jun 23 2000 - 19:04:18 CUT