A Society of War This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     The soldier ran through the night armed with a machine gun and a 12-inch blade. As he reloaded his weapon, an enemy tank emerged from a bush and incinerated him. A meek voice laughed. "Ha, I shot you, Matt!" This wasn't Iraq, it wasn't Iran, and it wasn't even real. This was a video game, a game in which the object is to kill, not to fight, not to race, not to team up with, but kill the other player. We live in a society where games like this are dismissed as "stupid" or "mindless." Has growing up in a society where war is the highlight of the evening news caused us to become mindless killers?

Back to reality. I wanted to find out what high-school students thought about people of other cultures. I found a picture online of a Middle-Eastern man who owned a convenience store. I showed the picture to 20 classmates, and asked them for the first word that came to mind. The results were nauseating: 16 of the 20 said "terrorist." That's 80 percent! I began to wonder if living in one society makes us forget that there are real people behind the racial slurs and stereotypes. I think so.

My stomach recently did flips as I talked about the war in Iraq with a friend. A strong Republican, I supported it, but my friend, a Democrat, didn't. As we walked and talked, some kid overheard us and said, "I'm going to join the Army, I wanna pop a towel head!" I was appalled that someone would have such disrespect for other cultures. Then again, when I go to the airport and see someone with a turban or a copy of the Koran, I tend to wear an Oh-God-please-don't-blow-this-place-up expression. We are living in a society where we can't even go to a sports game without hearing, "Remove all metal including belts, wallets, and keys and step through the metal detector." It's sickening.

Has our society caused us to be indifferent to war? I think we have forgotten about Vietnam and World War II where hundreds of thousands died. Now, war is something to watch on CNN if nothing else is on. I know a few soldiers who have been deployed to Iraq, and they have more respect for the Iraqi culture than my friends.

This takes me to my most important point: has living in a society where the word M-16 is a common term, has this society hardened us to the point that we no longer care about death or suffering or the poverty of other nations?

Living in the United States has caused us to forget what peace is, and only know the code of Hammurabi. Has this affected politics in addition to individual people? Half the topics in the presidential race are related to war. How will we make peace in Afghanistan? How will we decrease casualties? How will we ... the list continues. Politicians can now be defined by their outlook on war.

Everyone with a turban is a target. I guess that what I'm really trying to get across is that we are so much less tolerant because we have been breastfed war. We have had terrible images shoved down our throats since our infancy, and the question now is: What is in store for the next generation?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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BaleighBoo said...
Dec. 23, 2008 at 4:55 am
I never thought of that!
 
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