Monday, June 9, 2014
They are not enemies; we can learn from them
(Published in Letters section of AV Press May 16, 2014, their headline)
When I was a teenager in Pasadena, guys I knew were coming home from the war in Vietnam really messed up. One friend told me in a narcotic haze that he had watched his buddies die at a battle for Michelin Plantation.
I said, what? You were at war for a rubber corporation? He nodded, yeah that's about what it was.
For me, that was a political turning point, and soon I was going with my older sister to Peace and Freedom Party meetings, where I signed my name at the door.
Does that mean 50 years later, if I'm not a radical left-winger, I'm a turncoat? No, I just grew up and saw how the world really works.
One thing I learned is that the biggest pacifists in America are in the military, because they are the ones who actually have to fight when we go to war. However, as much as we would love to not even need a military or weapons, the reality is there are forces who would like to destroy us, and we have to be prepared.
So I gave up my teenage naivete and developed a passion for real solutions to real problems, with no political theory attached. I learned that a person whose politics are a little different from mine is not an enemy; he's someone to learn from.