Friday, April 18, 2008

How to Be a Grown Up -- 101

How to be a grown up 101:
Step one -- taking responsiblity.

At what age can we stop using ignorance as an excuse? Because it’s about time people begin to take responsibility for both their actions and their lack of action. Case in point: the members of the New Jersey National Guard – half of which are scheduled to deploy overseas in the next six months. This upcoming deployment, the largest in the NJ guard’s history, is scheduled to last 18-20 months.

Of the approximately 3,000 soldiers scheduled to deploy, 90 are currently enrolled in degree programs at Rutgers University in New Jersey. There will be a protest held at the Newark campus next week to voice staff and student concern that National Guard members are being uprooted in the middle of the semester. One professor voiced her concern, claiming, “Students should be finishing their accounting degrees, not deploying to Iraq”.

Did we forget that these students, by virtue of signing up for the National Guard and happily cashing their bimonthly paychecks are military members first, and students second? What did these National Guardsmen think they were getting paid for?

Look, I don’t want New Jersey’s children – or anyone’s children – to fight in Uncle Cheney’s oil war. And it goes without saying that I’m obviously in favor of continuing education. But these times aren’t about what I want, they’re about what is actually happening. Bush’s war business is booming; he needs more troops to feed his war machine.

Active duty military personnel have been shouldering the entirety of the war burden for too long. Some of our troops are approaching their fifth deployment to Iraq, and if McCain gets what he wants, we’ll be in Iraq for the next 100 years. It is not unreasonable to expect Reservists and National Guardsmen to contribute to this war effort. They’ve been receiving the paycheck for doing the job – why is it suddenly unfair to ask them to actually do it? And yes, it’s unfortunate that their education will be halted, but their education cannot continue at the expense of our active duty troops.

American apathy coupled with American ignorance is exhausting. First we didn’t know that we were signing mortgages that we couldn’t afford. Now, we didn’t realize that by taking National Guard paychecks, we’d actually be forced to serve in the armed forces. It’s about time that we take responsibility for the actions and choices that we made.

It’s time to step up and say YES – I signed that sub-prime mortgage. YES – I enlisted in the National Guard. And YES – I elected President Bush in 2004. Because knowing that we made a bad decision and admitting to that poor choice is far better than pretending that we didn’t understand the choice to begin with.

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