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
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
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>
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