I'm starting to think we should bring back the military draft. As someone who has draft-age children, I realize this may seem insane, but I've come to think it's the only way to stop the larger insanity that infects us. With a draft, all of us -- parents and children, rich or poor -- would have to confront the reality of military service and decide whether it was the right thing to do.
When I was 18, the draft lottery was in effect. By fortunate accident, my birthday gave me the 223rd spot in the draft order, which meant I could keep slacking my way through college. My roommate, whose mother had the poor judgment to give birth to him on March 14th, got number four. He was off to Vietnam within six months.
Fair? Hell, no. But neither is what we're doing now. Minorities comprise 35 percent of our military, well above their proportion of the general population. They, along with poor and rural whites, are fighting this war. The rest of us are free to continue life uninterrupted.
Here are some numbers: 44, 63, 96. They represent American military deaths in Iraq for the past three Octobers -- in chronological order. This is progress? Our soldiers are being killed by suicide bombers and IEDs. They're driving around, patrolling like hell's policemen, playing roulette with their lives. It's not combat, it's madness. And the volunteer Army has helped free our current leaders from accountability.
As the curtain slowly rises, revealing the "wizards" behind the cynical PR campaign to manipulate us into this war, the carnage continues. It's November 8th as I write this. Already, 28 Americans have been killed this month. I don't know any of them. Neither do you. But we owe them something. The truth would be a start.
Bruce VanWyngarden, Editor
Oh would some power the giftie gie us, to see ourselves as others see us. — Robert Burns
Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote the line above in response to seeing a louse on a high-born lady's bonnet at church. The point being, of course, that while we might think we're looking pretty good, someone else might be noticing a flaw we've overlooked.
(such a sky and such a sun
i never knew and neither did you
and everybody never breathed
quite so many kinds of yes) — e. e. cummings
Time moves in one direction, memory in another. — William Gibson
This week, an old friend sent me a photo of myself, circa 1978. In the picture, I was thin, long-haired, and standing barefoot on the porch of an old farmhouse where we lived, just outside of Columbia, Missouri. It was a shock to see it. I don't remember my friends and I taking many photographs, and I didn't remember this moment ...