written March 13, 2013
If you think that you have it bad these days living in poverty in America, the ‘land of the free’, just imagine living in extreme poverty in Afghanistan, or Pakistan, or Yemen, or Somalia, or Uganda, or Iraq, etc, and having to sleep with one eye opened because of the predator drones lurking above, ready to rein down hellfire at any moment from the heavens, or the NATO troops ready to kick in your door. In the words of George Orwell, “WAR IS PEACE. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. For any kids out there thinking that the army is the only way out of poverty, talk to a veteran, ask a Vietnam veteran how he likes waking up in cold sweat in the middle of a nightmare, some forty-five years after coming home. Ask an Iraq veteran if they really, truly feel that they fought in a just war, if they really, truly feel that they weren’t the enemy. Ask them if they would act any different than the Iraqis did, if their hometown was invaded and occupied by a foreign empire, and their morning commute turned from a ten minute drive, to a two hour hell through a maze of checkpoints where they would encounter 18, 19, 20 year old kids ignorant to their language and culture, who are ready and willing to shoot them at any second if they so much as fart or scratch their balls without being ordered to do so. Do your research, talk to a lot of veterans, ask them to be truthful. The military can provide you with some quick cash-flow, with the GI Bill, and with an opportunity to see the world. But also an opportunity to sign away what little freedom you have as a civilian for the next four years, the opportunity to kill people that don’t deserve it and have never done anything to you, who only want to live in peace and to be the ones that benefit from their nation’s national resources. Also an opportunity to walk out of the VA with a brown paper bag full of different prescriptions that you can’t even pronounce, which have the potential side effect of making you even more suicidal. If you want the advice of this veteran, learn how to grow food. Start a small farm, build a small house and install solar panels. Live sustainably. Read books. A People’s History of the United States by World War Two veteran Howard Zinn, War is a Racket by two-time Medal of Honor recipient Brigadier General Smedley Butler. The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Harvest of Empire by Juan Gonzalez, A Man Without A Country by Kurt Vonnegut. Those books would be a good start. Read everything you can get your hands on about the history of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and the arrival of the west to ‘civilize’ you. Read anything and everything that you can get your hands on. The money offered by recruiters can absolutely seem enticing and can seem like a good start on a way out of your current situation. Money is nothing more than paper, it is temporary. If you’re 18 years old and enlist for four years, you will most likely leave with your dd-214 and little else, having spent a great deal of your money on alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, tattoos, concerts, prostitutes, maybe a motorcycle, a lot of rounds for your friends when you’re back home on leave, new clothes, maybe a new surf board and a dirt bike. It’s not a way to make money, it’s a way to grow up fast as hell, a way to be a member of an occupying army on foreign soil, and a way of passing the time. Your time would be better spend fishing, growing food, and helping to build your community into what it once was, and can absolutely be again one day. You need the GI Bill to go to college? The only cost that will come along with a priceless education is the price of the card for the Public Library… usually free, and maybe the price of a wifi connection and a list on invaluable educational websites. Someone once said, “if you want to get laid, go to college. If you want to get an education, go to the library”. You also have an amazing resource here with the elders in the community, lifetimes of knowledge, and experiences and the lessons that come with them, that can’t be taught in any university classroom. Want to get out of Dodge after you finish high school? Look into City Year through AmeriCorps. Try WWOOFing (worldwide opportunities on organic farms) on another island, somewhere on the mainland, or anywhere from Colombia to Poland to Cambodia. Volunteer for a couple months, for a year, whatever it takes. And make whatever community you wind up in, a better place. Bring nothing but positive energy with you, not an M-4, and leave nothing but your footprints, not a puppet-led sham of a democracy, along with a nation of bombed out hospitals, sewage treatment plants, schools, and more birth defected babies than you can count.