Right Place at the Right Time

Do you ever imagine waking up and finding yourself in a totally different reality, particularly a terrible one? And that your real life was actually a wonderful dream that you were rudely pulled away from to go back to some crazier, shittier existence? I imagine this all the time, especially lately.

I have everything: beautiful wife and beyond amazing kids. Any qauntity and qaulity of food I can think of. A great place to live in a safe neighborhood. And yeah, I’ve worked my ass off to get here, and maybe I’ve caught a lucky break here or there. But so much of my life has been helped along simply by who I was born to and where I was born. So many of us take our racial make-up for granted. Or gender, sexuality, family circumstance, or socio-economic status. And in many parts of the world, but especially here in America, we want more and more and we think we deserve it, simply based on who we are.

This plays out on so many levels, but on this Veteran’s Day, I’m standing here in my kitchen, typing on my fancy phone, imagining what it would be like to believe your only option was joining the military. Or that the only way to get a higher education was the GI bill. There’s a great song by this hip-hop artist Rhymfest, featuring Citizen Cope, called “Bullet and a Target”. One of the lines talks about a kid getting killed in Iraq and “what a poor kid does for a scholarship”. It’s difficult, here in my kitchen, to then go on to imagine what it would feel like to sacrifice everything for a country and government and have no idea what it was really for or see any tangible results.

Since Vietnam, it would seem these are all wars that can never be won. A lot is said about casualties, but the countless injuries and trauma that is endured by our soldiers and their families barely carries any weight in primetime, not to mention the impact on the families of the lands we’re occupying.

Just two weeks ago my daughter attended a friend’s birthday party—where he turned 5—and he had no mom or dad. Both were killed in war and we had to answer some really tough questions that I never imagined having to address with a 5-year-old. They talked about this in their kindergarten class too, and there are other kids with parents in the military. Can you imagine what was going through these kids’ heads when they heard both their friend’s parents were now dead veterans? Maybe you can. I can’t.

It’s not about whether you’re anti-war or believe whole-heartedly in our military presence around the world. We are all affected if we live and participate in a capitalistic society. And we shouldn’t let where we were born or who we were born to interfere with understanding each other. It’s hard but I don’t want to take my life for granted and I certainly don’t want to pass that on to my kids.