Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Countermessage to Military Recruiters

This should be the norm at public schools across the country. According to the Metro Times, the Detroit school board recently approved allowing a nonprofit group to present a countermessage to the one delivered by military recruiters:
Finding Alternatives to Military Enlistment (FAME) believes it should have equal time as the military to have displays, speeches and other recruiting methods in schools. The federal No Child Left Behind Act contains a provision requiring public school districts to help recruiters reach students.

"We would just like permission to get into the schools and have access to the students and give them the truths that the military isn't giving them" says Jen Teed, one of FAME's founders. "They need to understand what they're getting into."
Absolutely. Enlisting in the military is a life-altering decision and it's one that shouldn't be made until all questions have been answered and alternatives discussed. "This is not meant to cast disparity on the military. It's to present alternatives," said Tyrone Winfrey, who chairs the board's committee on academic achievement and curriculum development

The F.A.M.E. website states they're committed to providing clear and accurate information so that youth can make informed and consensual decisions about their lives and military service; countering prevalent misinformation about the benefits of joining the military, compared to civilian opportunities; and ending the "“economic draft" by helping youth find educational and employment resources.

I'm sure the Bush administration isn't happy that FAME or similar groups exist, but our youth deserve to know the small print details before they put their lives on the line. What kind of details? From the FAME website:
If you sign up for a 15 month enlistment, how long can the military keep you in service?

a. Fifteen months
b. Eight years
c. As long as 35 years

The incredible never ending enlistment contract; the correct answer is C. They can keep you as long as they want to.
I doubt many recruiters offer that nugget of information unsolicited.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Christmas Message

This is the best segue I can come up with to explain why I haven’t posted anything in a while – life happens. You see…I’m a fixer. If something is broken, I feel compelled to try and fix it. I am also the person my family and friends turn to when they need advice, an opinion or just someone to lean on. I’m not complaining. I’m happy to be there for people when they need me. However, as we all know, there is much in life that we can’t change or prevent – disease, heartbreak, death – and we all have to take the good with the bad. Too bad we can’t get equal doses of bad and good. My family and friends have had more than their share of the bad this year and I’ve suffered along with them, which explains my absence. I needed to take some time to deal with my emotions too.

This brings me to Christmas. I didn’t want the holiday to pass without sharing something with you. My aunt sent me these pictures of an albino fawn that some friends of hers found in rural Wisconsin several months ago. (Her friends claim albino deer are very rare – only one in a million births – but I couldn’t verify that.) The deer was in the road and they almost ran it over. Concerned, they pulled over to the side of the road to watch and see if it's mother would come, but she never showed up so they took it home. They were worried a car would hit it. They only kept it a few days, feeding it formula from a baby bottle, until they could find a rescue farm willing to take it in and raise it. The deer is safe now and will have a home for life.

I think mankind shares a commonality with this fawn that is especially meaningful during this holiday season. The fawn is rare and unique, but so are you and I and every person in this world. The fawn was also vulnerable and needed help. How often do we find ourselves in the same situation? We all need help at times and, equally important, we all have the capacity to help in some way.

That is the message I carry in my heart at Christmas. You may believe Jesus is the Messiah - or you may believe he is a prophet or important historical figure. Whatever you believe, Jesus was a loving role model of how we should all act toward one another. Our world would be a better place if we all remembered that no matter what our beliefs.

Merry Christmas.