Rev. Valerie's Reveries

This blog contains personal reflections from Unitarian Universalist minister Valerie Mapstone Ackerman.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Child Soldiers

Following a story about the building of a local version of the Young Marines program in the Sunday Tulsa World paper, I sent this letter to the editor. I'll let you know if it gets printed.

Dear Editor;

Reading of the indoctrination of young boys and girls in the Young Marines program (Tulsa World, January 21, 2007) assaulted my religious and civic sensibilities. Of what use is engaging children in paramilitary training? Why, to prepare them to be the next generation of holy warriors of empire-building! Get them young and train them right. At a time when adult men and women are rejecting the overtures of military recruiters en masse, there is only one refuge left for the recruiters, stealing the gentle hearts and minds of the children. And to name the brigade after a dead soldier---so much the better. This way we inspire not analysis and interpretation of the geo-political context of the death of that soldier, but rather persuade the children toward a desire to emulate the glorious mythology of war—that you will be remembered fondly after you are sacrificed--- and for what? Weapons of mass deception? Make no mistake. Capturing the hearts and minds of vulnerable children is necessary for the making of crusades and empire building. Should our society truly wish to build character and discipline among our children we might instead choose to teach our children well in the arts of mediation, conflict resolution, self-respect and honoring of the sanctity of all life. When Americans view child conscripts among the many world conflicts we shudder and feel revulsion, but when we see the same on the pages of our hometown newspaper we are expected to utter cooing words of affection for the glowing ruddy cheeks of the tiny soldiers. Preparing children to become potential killers who blindly follow orders and vow to protect each other at any cost is nothing less than despicable. Now that we know where the new warriors are being trained, tell us, where are the bands of peacemakers being trained?

Rev. Valerie Mapstone Ackerman
Director, Peace House-Tulsa


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