One of the (countless) amazing opportunities we have as parents is we can open our children’s eyes to different ways of thinking about things. When there is something in society that we wonder “why do people accept that without question?” we have the chance to empower our children to always question and always arrive at what feels like truth in their hearts. And that is one of the ways parents can change the world.
I write about something specific, but this idea could be applied to virtually anything. And it’s never about trying to force children to think a certain way. It’s about empowering them to make their own choices and find their own values about things, regardless of what society says. I want to preface this by expressing my profound and deepest sympathy for any human being who has dealt with the loss of a loved one, no matter how it happened.
I’ve often wondered why we consider someone a criminal if they take money from a crime family to kill people they don’t know, but we consider someone a hero if they take money from the government to kill people they don’t know. I was listening to a podcast about the armistice ending World War I, and how some soldiers died after the war ended, because the news had not reached them. I imagine a 19 year old French teenager who has been told to kill German teenagers who wear different outfits, suddenly being told “never mind” because rich, powerful, white men have decided their interests have been met and the war is over.
In our culture we celebrate and romanticize young people who go off to fight because someone told them to. This perpetuates a system where the rich and powerful can use human capital to try to achieve their political and economic ends. And this isn’t ancient history, as Russia/Ukraine reminds us.
We don’t have power to tell these rich and powerful people that human beings matter. That ship has long since sailed. But as parents, we have power to debunk for our children the idea that it is somehow noble or even “heroic” to go kill people you have no dispute with because someone else told you to do so.
If the “universal soldiers” on all sides refuse to do the bidding of others and kill on command, we might really see an end to war. The rich and powerful have proven to use time and time again they are not going to make that change, and why would they, when hundreds of thousands of young people are willing, and sometimes eager, to put on the designated outfit and follow the command to kill young people with other outfits.