December 8, 2009

Today’s irony…December 8, 1941, the U.S. Congress declared war against Japan. And today, we’ve been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan longer than we fought in World Wars I and II combined.

Read Bob Herbert’s op-ed piece in today’s New York Times: “A Fearful Price.” And the price we’re paying for today’s wars is enormous – probably more than the two world wars. Sure, not as many people have died today. But thanks (?) to medical improvements, more survive with post traumatic stress, brain and other injuries. Then add in the suicides and the homelessness and the traumatized families.

Our soldiers are deployed repeatedly – tearing apart families, causing untold stress to children and life partners. A new study by the RAND Corporation was just published in the journal Pediatrics. Study results are pretty scary.

We should be ashamed. You and me. Our elected officials. Our businesses. And all the individuals and families who have no skin in the game. You know that phrase: “No skin in the game.”

Why did the U.S. presence in Vietnam finally end? Because of protests. Why were there so many protests? Because we had skin in the game: the draft.

As Bob Herbert says, “The air is filled with obsessive self-satisfied rhetoric about supporting the troops, giving them everything they need and not letting them down. But that rhetoric is as hollow as a jazzman’s drum because the overwhelming majority of Americans have no desire at all to share in the sacrifices that the service members and families are making.” We don’t increase taxes to pay for the war. How many of us volunteer in some way to help service people and their families? And we sure aren’t there on the ground.

Here’s an idea: If you vote for the war and money for the war, you have to send a relative of yours to the war. If, as a citizen, you endorse the war, then you have to enlist. How’s that for an idea?

I’ll end with Herbert again: “I don’t think our current way of waging war, which is pretty easy-breezy for most citizens, is what the architects of American had in mind….What we are doing is indefensible and will utlimately exact a fearful price, and there will be absolutely no way for the U.S. to avoid paying it.”

Filed under: Social Commentary

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

Get non-profit resources in your inbox