War and Violence: Lessons for Tomorrow

“Is war and violence something that should be taught to children?”

Why wouldn’t it be?

After all, both are a natural and unfortunate aspect of our overall story as a species. Teaching on these subjects, in a responsible and rational manner, may serve to break certain repetitive cycles which lead to conflict.

I am a veteran of the “Global War on Terror” – I have served a total of 36 months in either Afghanistan or Iraq during my 20-year career in the Army. That right there should be enough to imply that a failure to heed the brutal lessons learned in both countries need to be taught so that my kids aren’t put in a position where they are repeating what we should have learned from the British, Soviets, and whomever else made similar errors.

My 13-year old son recently took on the Siege of Leningrad as his National History Day project (against my cautious warnings). Any topic associated with an -ism – in this case Communism – is rife with violence against their own countrymen; his research led him to read more about the Russian Revolution and Civil War and the brutality the Bolsheviks meted out upon anyone who disagreed with their ideology. At a reasonable stage in his reading, I intervened: I had been down this road previously, and I know that exploring history’s darker moments can become outright distressing… even for someone who had endured the 2006-2007 “Surge” in Iraq while assigned to a Medevac unit.

War and violence.

I am a realist: I advocate for a strong and credible military presence as well as effective diplomacy and alliances… because, no matter what, war and violence will continue to be part of our identities – regardless of what flag flies over our heads.

The tragedy of not teaching these subjects to children would be to allow them the opportunity to think that they have stumbled upon something new – that it is acceptable to be meek in the face of bullies… or take advantage of a power disparity for the sole purpose of subjugation… or to effectively plan… or to identify dangerous trends and plan accordingly.

Again, I have to iterate that this should all be conducted in a responsible and rational manner… especially when dealing with younger kids. Sure, some folks are uncomfortable with the questions that may arise about why something happened or why a certain day carries significance… but there are plenty of us veterans who love to write, feel that teaching is an art, and are committed to make sure that no one ever has to go through the exact same things we did.

We teach about war and violence so they don’t have to learn first-hand.  

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2 thoughts on “War and Violence: Lessons for Tomorrow

  1. I struggle with this same thing with my (soon-to-be) nine-year-old. He knows that there are war and destruction in the world. But putting into a context isn’t as easy as I remember it being when I was a kid. My parents were raised in WWII, my grandparents were WWII Vets. There was never a question of “right vs wrong.” Germans were bad, Americans were great. Period. The war was a necessity and ‘a good war.”

    But in the ignoring of Korea and the throes of Vietnam, things began to change. Today’s arguments over foreign policy have replaced the simply accepted ideological beliefs of the past. I think that is good. in my view, the difference between a necessary war and the modern incursions needs to be made more clear.

    The question to me is pretty straightforward – what in this is worth a single American life? On June 6, 1944, that was a pretty clear answer. Today it is more nuanced and without discussion and teaching, could easily lead to a nation that simply accepts whatever is told to us without questioning and accepting for ourselves that the purpose is worthy.

    Keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Today it is more nuanced and without discussion and teaching, could easily lead to a nation that simply accepts whatever is told to us without questioning and accepting for ourselves that the purpose is worthy.”

      Yep.
      This is where I feel we are headed, unfortunately – a passive submission to whatever “facts” are convenient or political ideology fits their identity.

      We shall see where this all goes…

      Keep… writing and ‘casting!

      Liked by 1 person

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