Jen and I talk a lot about all the things that are wrong with our education system in this country. One of them walked in this afternoon.
He first asked me where the books on the Japanese-American War were. Just like that. I said, "There was no war called the Japanese-American War, but we did fight them in World War II, is that what you mean?"
He wanted the Japanese-American War, a war I had never heard about up to this point in my life. So I showed him the World War II books and told him these were our war books, and that I thought he might find what he was looking for in that general area.
Cunning, aren't I?
"Where are the books," he continued. "That have the flags that say, "bravo" and "Where are the...?'"
"I don't know what you mean," I said. "If they're World War II flags, they'll be in the World War II books."
"Like the Japanese-American War?"
"World War II," I said.
"What about the war we're fighting now?"
"In Iraq and Afganistan?"
"The Japan war?"
"No," I said. "We aren't fighting the Japanese. The Japanese are our friends," I left then, a strategic retreat in the face of his unshakable belief.
Moments later, he returned with a book.
"Look," he said. "Look at all this, this World War II had to have been the best war."
I remained silent.
"See this? I bet the Japanese hated this," he pointed to a picture of American soldiers facing off against...Axis troops...not Japanese. Wow. "This took a long time to set up. It's lucky they did that before the war started."
He pointed to trenches.
"Well," I said. "They did dig that during the fighting."
"I'm going to be a soldier."
"I wonder who I'll be killing."
That did it. Pacifist Laura could take no more. First: know the war we're in and the war you're talking about by the age this kid was (let's just say he should have known better by that point). Second, "I wonder who I'll kill?" What are we doing around here, training kids for mass murder? Or is it just the whole, war is cool thing where human life takes no place, all that matters is how big the guns are?
Frankly, It really doesn't matter what the answers to my last, rhetorical, questions are...what matters is that we need to not be that way about war.
"I hope no one," I replied.
"It has to be someone," he said.
"No, it doesn't. And, we might not even be in a war when you're older. I hope we aren't. War is awful. People die. I know people who have died. I know people who are getting shot at and maybe hurt right now. War is bad."
The kid's face lit up when I told him that last part. Seriously. And sure, it's not real to him. Of course it isn't. Because either it doesn't click as being real in his head, or he's a complete psychopath.
And that can't be accurately diagnosed before adulthood, when the brain's development slows down. For example, tons of teenagers might be considered psychopaths. But they aren't. They're just jerks. And I have to put up with them. Sigh.
After that I ignored him. Because I have a friend, my neighbor, in fact, who is a field medic now. His family has no idea from day to day if he's okay. And someone, no matter how young or naive, who can just disregard that possibility, it just gets me ticked.
Life is life, and the damage war inflicts...I get that some people haven't grown enough to understand that, but come on.
That just ticked me off. I have to take cleansing breaths. Maybe I'll watch some Brotherhood 2.0.