What to Do with Creative Hands and Minds

One of the many benefits of doing this blog is that sometimes people send you things.  After reading my “Lego” post of a couple of weeks ago, a nice lady in Arizona sent me all the boxed up Lego that her adult son left behind when he went off to college this year.  Thanks Laura!  It seems weird to call him “adult son.”  To me, he’s frozen at 16 as he was when I met him.  It was a couple of years back at a film festival in Sedona.  “Semper Fi” was part of the festival and so they had me come there to do a q&a after the screening.  It was then I met young Chris and his parents. Very fine people.  Chris has wanted to be a Marine since he was a little boy.  Now y’all know how much I love the Marine Corps but I’m committed to keeping as many kids out of the military until our government and the war profiteers who control it are made to stop wasting the lives of those who offer to give it freely for their country for corporate greed.  So over the last couple of years Chris and I have had a dozen or more conversations.  He seems unswayable as am I.  He has this romanticized idea of the whole “warrior” thing.  In truth he wants to be a sniper.  Kids are sold a bill of goods that likens modern military service to the stayed and sturdy Spartans of old where the true in heart meats the evildoer on the field of battle with identical equipment and only the condition of their chiseled bodies and the agility of their mind to hopefully lead them to victory.  What a load of shit!  It was a Staff Sergeant at my first duty station who pointed it out to my small group of new-joins, “We don’t fight fair.  You think we fight fair?  Look at these nice little toys the American people have bought you.  They’re fighting us with shit they make in the garage.  Now that’s courageous!  So before you go feeling big-balled about it, remember that.”  He had a point.  I’d say that being a sniper, shooting someone who’s up to several hundred yards away is as far as you can get from “meeting on the field of battle” but that would discount all the members of our military who are able, by all this modern technology, to kill without ever even having to see their victims.  I wonder how long the wars would continue if we actually had to see, up close and personal, the people we kill.  I’ve certainly worked with my share of vets over the last seven years who have.  Those who’ve seen the people they’ve killed certainly have a different experience of the whole thing than those who kill from afar.  But Chris has made up his mind.  He even romanticizes the whole PTSD thing.  He just wants to “experience” the whole thing.  He’s in college now and even before leaving high school, he promised me he’d finish college before joining.  Some of what he says sounds like he might want to renege on that promise.  I got so pissed at him the other night, I offered to give the recruiters his number.  I’m not giving up on him.  As weird as it seems to say about someone I’ve only actually met in person once, I love this kid like a little brother.  The truth of the matter is that he’s a poet at heart!  So I’m guessing the whole “experience it all” thing is the artist’s yearning to swallow as much of life as possible.  I get that for sure.  But there are many, many ways to do that.  If I’m not able to help him find other ways to fulfill these needs he thinks can only be fulfilled by being a Marine, then I’ll feel like I’ve failed him.  That is until we can get the US military returned to the people it was formed to defend.

Tonight Max, our little cousin is with me.  He’s 7. We went to Noodles together and then to a movie.  When we got home, we did his homework together and did some alphabet drills.  His reward was that we got to open the box of Lego that Laura, Chris’ mom sent from Arizona.  He was beside himself as he saw the hundreds of  multicolored possibilities in the box.  When he started to snap the pieces together into what would soon become a “helicopter station” I couldn’t help think of the little fingers that had held them before Max’s, fingers that may someday soon pull the trigger.  I hope I haven’t completely failed with encouraging Chris to serve his country in another way.  If I have, maybe I can do a better job with Max.

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