Why do we go to war? Part 1

I am a little older now than I was during the war in Vietnam and I did not understand why we were at war nor did I think to ask.

I teach U.S. history to high school students which has given me the opportunity to absorb more information about America’s past than I would have otherwise. I have read primary source documents, analyzed photographs, and facilitated interesting discussions with my students. My history classes four decades ago were conducted by my teacher simply and directly. We moved our desks into a tight circle, opened our state adopted textbook, read the chapter assigned for that day, and answered the accompanied questions at the end of the unit. Tests consisted of acknowledging names, dates, and places through memorization.

I was bored with history, but I think not because history is boring, rather because so many schools and teachers never get past the same pedagogy that I was exposed to in school.

Truth is always more exciting than fiction, yet the need to create patriotic citizens…

people who follow their government’s leaders
without questioning
the direction these leaders are taking them
because there is nothing to question
since you have been taught that
the USA is the greatest country in the world,

….is the ultimate goal.

Education is the number one catalyst for moving the masses. Knowledge is the brain trying to make sense of the world around it. The brain demands answers to complex questions in order to make meaning out of confusion. And those who find they have a passion for knowledge can never return to a place of complacent existence.

I think this is why NOT educating our young people is the first key to creating a totalitarian society. Young people who can read, write, and think critically tend to ask questions and expect answers. We have evidence of this at UC Berkeley in the 1960’s, Kent State University, in Ohio in 1970, the two founders of the Black Panther Party were Merritt College students, in Oakland, the Tiananmen Square protests in China in the 1980’s where university students joined workers in protesting over their political leaders.

Other countries have experienced the same discontent among educated youth. Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia was an advocate of higher education and founded the University College of Addis Adaba in 1955. The emperor tried to keep control over the school through censorship, and either because of this or in spite of it, the students created a movement in the 1960’s that grew and continued through the 1970’s to include economic inequality and poverty.

But still, why do we go to war? So my point is, the more I study the more I want to know, the more I know the deeper I want to reach into the pools of information, both credible and not, about a plethora of topics and issues. And why we go to war became a revelation as I studied my craft to be the best history teacher I could be and trying not to show my bias to my students at the same time. That’s a hard one.

No more digressing. I’ll get back to the question tomorrow.



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