We Are Not Your Soldiers Tour: Taking Responsibility for Ending the Wars

 From a UC Santa Barbara student in Global Studies 

 
A word of caution, I grew up in Oakland, California, which sits across from San Francisco and next to Berkeley. The Bay Area is a microcosm of freethinking, of universal acceptance of all people; a cosmopolitan hub of enlightened thinking and a plethora of colors and cultures.
 
I feel privileged to have grown up in such an amazing place. However, as I have journeyed away from my home, I have realized that a lot of people do not think as I do. Their minds are closed and filled with hate and biases, even at the university level.
 
The racism, sexism and homophobia that occur on this campus shocked me. My friend broke the news to me that some people are downright bad, evil one could postulate. My education in Oakland was different than the usual brainwashing that the school system brands people with.
 
Throughout elementary and middle school, my parents and teachers always encouraged me to think outside of myself, to question things, to not take anything at face value, that the news is usually erroneous, that everyone has a bias and that it is impossible to be completely objective. Because of this, I consider myself to be very liberal and progressive in my thinking. Therefore, what you are about to read oozes this ideology.
 
On the night of May 7, 2010, I attended “We Are Not Your Soldiers,” presented at the MCC Theater. What I saw, and what I heard changed me forever.
 
First, Emma, an anti-war activist, spoke about her experiences. She stated that war crimes under Bush are the same under Obama. Since Obama’s election, many Americans, who protested the war under Bush, are remaining passive and silent under Obama. The war has become immutable, inextinguishable; it has become white noise, the background of the lives we live.
 
We turn our attention elsewhere, to school, to drugs and alcohol, to our careers, to money and ignore the atrocities being committed in the name of liberty and justice for all. News of the wars no longer makes front-page headlines of newspapers and is seldom spoken about in public. The soldiers are there because they think that we support them. If we demonstrate to them and to the government that the majority of the American people do not support the wars, the killing will come to a halt. “What do we do now? How can we mobilize? What can we do?” Emma probed the audience. She also mentioned something that a high school student had said,” Silence is compliance.” Those words could not be truer. She stated that the way to do this was not through Congress. It was through the people.
 
Matthis, a former US soldier, spoke next. The first thing he wanted to do was to convey what he experienced every day. To do this, he played the 17-minute wikieaks video, in which the US army, in addition to killing 10 civilians, gunned down two journalists from Reuters. In the film, soldiers saw men walking on a street from their helicopter. They assumed they all had weaponry because one of the men was holding a camera. They requested “permission to engage.”
 
After obliterating them with machine guns, they saw that one man was wounded and trying to crawl away. So they shot more. The language they used was horrendous. “He just rolled over a dead body! Ha!” or “Kill em’ all.” After their first attack on these innocent civilians and reporters, who were all unarmed, a truck came to pick up the bodies. They shot the truck, which had two children inside of it.
 
Both were wounded and most likely died because they were not rushed to the US army base, but given to the Iraqi police. Their standard of care would be much lower. One soldier said it was their fault for bringing their kids to a war zone. Is it your fault if you live in the neighborhood? Is it your fault if another country invades your own without reason? As I watched, tears rolled down my cheeks. I could not believe these soldiers. They had lost their humanity. They had no soul. They affirmed each other for murder.
 
Matthis began his talk by stating that he was embarrassed and less of a man for joining the US army. He had lost some of himself. The US army’s motto is “Engage and destroy.” He said that on day one of boot camp, they teach you how to kill another human being. He said that because he believed that people were supporting him, he was doing no wrong. However, as events kept piling up, he realized that it was genocide, it was empire, and that it was wrong. He resigned.
 
These are my thoughts
 
The war in Iraq is illogical and purely offensive. We have only made things worse. People would have banned together to rise up against Saddam. The government used him, their so-called “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (Why don’t we invade every country with WMD?) as a ploy to get the American people to buy into “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” More like, “Operation Iraqi Genocide.”
 
If we left, things would be better than they are now.
 
The US army does not rebuild countries; it only destroys them.
 
 Democracy, or rather, the American “republic” is not a one size fits all type of political system. It is not for everyone.
 
After 9/11, it made sense that we attack Afghanistan. It was defensive. But we did not get much done when we went in.
 
I used to think that 1) the wars were bad but 2) if we pulled out, we would leave these countries in ruin. I am now of the opinion that if we live, there will of course be violence, but there will be less. There will be less killing of civilians and children. I think we should use the money that we are allocating for these wars to hire various NGOs to come in and rebuild the countries.
 
People are easily brainwashed by American propaganda, the flag, for me, has become a symbol associated with right wing ploys for votes, a wet blanket, putting out any questions that people may have had. People have bumper stickers that say things such as: “We support our troops.” So, you support murder of innocent civilians? Its no wonder that both countries’ economies are doing terribly; an entire generation has been systematically wiped out. These are people. These are human beings with families, children, hopes, and dreams. They have been categorized as terrorists. I believe there is no difference between a terrorist and a US soldier. Seriously.
 
Every time you take another human beings life, you destroy a bit of your soul.
 
The army does not see its soldiers as humans, but as dispensable flesh.
 
These peoples experience 9/11 every day.
 
What is it going to take to end these wars? A revolution? A step beyond oneself? Will we have to wait until almost everyone knows someone who died as a result of the war before we stand up and decry it. No. Why are people so uncomfortable with expressing their beliefs? Because it is not popular? It is not cool? It wasn’t cool in Germany in WWII to sympathize with the Jews; it wasn’t cool to sympathize with Tutsis in Rwanda. And it is not cool to remain silent. In silence, one agrees with all the actions that are occurring. In silence, you are just as worse as the American soldiers, as the Hutu leaders, as the Nazis, as murderers. Where did humanity go? I see animals fighting over a piece of land, soaked in blood.
 
This also brings up the question: When is war ok? In my opinion, when going to war will save more lives than destroy them. However this is hard to estimate. War proves to me that most people cannot think for themselves, that most people do not have an original thought in their entire lives, do not seek higher consciousness, that most people go about their day without questioning anything, simply absorbing the messages that Big Brother has implanted within them from day one.
 
After I left, I thought, well, I think I just re-affirmed my anti-war activism (I have gone to a few protests in SF regarding the wars). As I biked through Isla Vista, I began to cry. It made me sad to see all these people blatantly ignoring the truth and embracing lies. What are they doing with their lives? Most people do nothing, to be honest. Most do not question and most do not care, unless it pertains to them.
 
What has become of society? Is it simply a ball of clay to be molded by governmental officials to support whatever they want? Is it a force to exploit?
 
I am not proud to be an American citizen. It is hard for me to tolerant of those who support the war. I am not tolerant. I am angry. But beyond that, I am sad for humanity. I am sad that despite living in the 21st century, society is regressing, that people do not care, that people are afraid to speak up. Morality and the value of human life, the feeling of sheer joy to be alive on this planet have been destroyed. And in its place, compliant robotic like humans. I feel that today I am living in Orwell’s 1984, in Huxley’s “Brave New World.” We each have a responsibility to stand up and condemn the wars, to say no, I do not agree with what is happening and I am not going to wait for it to end. I am going to make it end. 

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World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.