it's "just" a job
I talked with several recruits as they left – all of them took information from me. One beautiful, polished coconut-shell colored young man, his dark brown eyes deep with despair, his sea-black hair waving over his forehead, told me he was joining because his life was in such turmoil, he needed help & no one but the army was giving him help. As the recruiter hustled him into his waiting car, the young man took the pamphlet I shoved into his hands and promised to call the hotline. Tonite.
Another tall skinny young man, white this time, lingered inside the station until the last minute. He did NOT want to talk with me, shuffling from foot to foot, averting his eyes, his snow-white skin slowly flooding pink as we did talk. I asked him why he was thinking of joining up. He tried to say he was protecting our country, he was fighting the 9/11 terrorists, he was bringing freedom to Iraq. I told him I understand that’s what he’s thinking & if he was truly going to protect our country, I would be the first in line to give him a huge hug & flowers (not); but he was not protecting our country – he was in fact, putting our country in grave danger by killing women & children & men who never attacked us, not one Iraqi was on the planes. He told me that is what I believe. I told him no, not a matter of belief, a matter of fact. His own president said there are no weapons of mass destruction, there were no Iraqis on the planes.
Another young man, equally as tall but much more buff, coffee w/a splash of cream skin, shaved head, tells me he’s re-upping. He informs me he was one of those youth that was given a choice: jail or the army – he chose the army. He’s been in Iraq, was out for 2 months, and is re-upping. He has trouble with civilians and civilian life, he declares. I point out that I’m a civilian & he’s been talking with me for almost 10 minutes. He respects me, I’m his elder. I suggest he get a job in an old age home then. He tries to assure me I should not worry, it is just a job – that’s how he does it – it’s not the killing of people – it is just a job. I shouldn’t look on it as killing people – he’s doing a job someone has to do & he’s good at it. I look so deep into those brown eyes and ask him, is that what he tells himself, is that what he tells his ancestors, is that what he is going to tell his god when he dies – oh sorry god, I was getting paid to kill your children, it was only a job. He turns his head slightly sideways & downward & tells me that maybe he doesn’t have such a developed consciousness. I take a step forward, closer to this hurt young man in front of me & tell him with all my conviction, “oh yes you do”.