Dear wonderful teenager, please, stop dreaming of being a soldier. I know, this is a lot to ask of you. But think about this: that which you call meaning and purpose which an army might offer is the invention of other people. That’s it, nothing more, nothing less.
The bare truth is that nobody knows anything. The bare truth is that what we crave so much in our little humble lives, meaning, is shamelessly exploited by others to send people to their death. What we require to wake up in the morning, the sense that life makes sense, is the cruel manipulation others play on us teaching how we should sacrifice for the country, for the prophets, for the ancestors, for democracy or the jihad.
Think about it. Any army is an octopus made of chains of command. You will be that last phalanx, the tip of the whip which spanking commanders handle upon innocent women and children, in the name of patriotism, in the name of saving us from our enemies, in the name of divine warrant to punish the infidels. That whip is made in time by a long lie and it erodes. It needs you to keep splashing its death filled sound on the lives of humans, which happened to be born in its path.
If you want to be given meaning by submitting to a higher goal let me ask you this: would you be one of the fingers of my right hand? Imagine there is nothing more rewarding that being in a magic dance of the fingers as I write love poems to my beloved, as I stroke the hair of a playful child or as grasp the hand of the friend who saved my life. In this perfect coordination, all fingers work together, never get any credit individually and accomplish human gestures filled with our humanity itself.
But were I to use my right hand to beat my beloved for nor submitting to my whims and needs, were I to use my right hand to punish the child for playing too loud or kill another human being by grasping the throat of a friend who betrayed my years long trust, would you still like to be one of the fingers of my right hand? Would you still approve of having no voice and no way to fight what I want to do with you?
That is what a soldier is. This planet will get peace only when you, dear wonderful teenager, will stop fantasizing about the honor and adventure of regimented life. Only when youth will stray from the lies of the generals, on both sides of the planet, on both sides of the border, on both sides of the coin, only when the young will see how love poems and confusion about purpose are so very much the same on both sides, when the promise of honor and sacrifice for country and faith will mean nothing, the nothingness that such empty promises deserve.
Let our armies age and dwindle.
You would say, what about conscription, compulsory drafting and military police ripping you from your mother’s desperate embrace? What about the threats and horrors that await the pacifist nation from the “others”. But I would say, there is nothing built in an army that does not depend on humans and human will alone. It is not the ones who are drafted and send blindly to a battle who make the wars, but it is those who believe the lie, those who decide, early at about your age, dearest teenager, that meaning can be found in the invented order and void discipline of the army command chain. You can be a soldier because the situation requires, but you can also be a soldier because you chose to be a soldier. Don’t choose to be a soldier.
Let our armies march with reluctant cohorts. Let our armies lose the lunacy of fervor and see how commanding officers suddenly byte battalions with the venom of family, country, religion, patriotism and honor. Empty speeches will be poured on young children. Endless horror shows of the others doing atrocities will be commanded upon generations to come so that you, dear teenager, you the one who understand and stopped dreaming about being a soldier, will be replaced by the children of tomorrow.
If you must be a soldier, be that soldier who dismantles his army. You will do us all the biggest service anyone has ever done to humanity: stop us from killing each other while our sun dims out and there is no sign of salvation from the heavens yet.