Yesterday after work I went to the supermarket to pick up a few things. When I was in the checkout having the items I was purchasing scanned, the cashier asked me this:
“Would you like to sign a card for the troops who won’t make it home for the holidays?”
I answered, “No, thanks.”
I wasn’t trying to make a big statement to the world, the supermarket, or even the cashier. I was trying to make a statement to myself. Think to yourself about how often you’re pressured by society to join in with the collective. And think about how often that pressure is to get you to pay homage to the military, specifically the servicemen. Go ahead and dare to speak anything negative about a current or former serviceman. You’ll find that there aren’t many other things that will draw as much hate from almost every direction as that.
People love to say things like, “I don’t support the wars, but I support the troops.” What does that even mean? What exactly do you support them doing? Following orders? Don’t get me wrong, I do have respect for people who believe that they are putting their lives on the line to protect the freedom and wellbeing of others, but what their intentions are and what actually happens are two different things.
So do I support the troops?
I do. I support them thinking for themselves and really understanding what they’re getting themselves into when they sign up. I support them to critically examine their orders and refuse to do anything that is unethical. I support them getting out of the military right now.
But could I have communicated that in the card? I don’t think so. After I left the store, I thought that I could have written something like “Go AWOL,” but even that might be taken the wrong way. Anything that I could have thought of writing on the spot would have just put a black eye on the movement that attempts to educate people on the evils of war.
Then why not just sign my name? It would be just another random name out of countless others. In my mind, that would imply that I approve of what’s going on or at least support them in the generally accepted sense of “supporting the troops.” Of course no soldier will know that some guy outside of Philadelphia didn’t sign the cards they were getting, but it at least helps me. While this was just a very small act of dissent, it will make it a little easier the next time when the stakes have gotten a little bit higher.