It Doesn’t Have to be This Way: A Reflection on our Endless Wars

Written by Eli Bondar, TRC Intern

As a young person born in 1999, I have no recollection of a pre-9/11 America. I was four in 2003, the year the U.S. invaded Iraq. Others my age know that political news trickles down to young children in unusual ways. It is not through debates or explanations that they learn, but through hushed and fearful conversations between parents, quickly changed cable news channels, and offhand satire that is at times undetectable to kids. Even so, children learn about and are affected by politics—and by war. For young people, the United States has been at war our entire lives. The war in Afghanistan is approaching its 18th birthday in October of 2019, and as it reaches its legal adulthood, so too are a generation of children who have known nothing but a country mired in conflict.

This is why news about escalating tensions with Iran scares me so much. I am afraid that my generation will look past it, ignoring more conflict in what they believe to be an already war-torn region. Many in my generation have become desensitized to war in the Middle East—images of burning oil derricks and men in desert camouflage are ingrained into our minds. I want to tell people my age that this is not how it has always been, to yell at them to snap out of the lull they’ve fallen into, one where perpetual wars in the Middle East are accepted as political facts, rather than what they really are—quagmires cultivated out of fear and the quest for oil. Hiding behind the ideology of freedom is the maniacal face of capitalism, using war as an excuse to steal resources and expand American influence.

I beg the other young people in America to think about the young people of Iran, also at the mercy of a government they did not vote for, and facing the prospect of foreign soldiers marching into their own hometowns. It doesn’t have to be this way! I dare this generation to imagine a world different than the one we’ve been growing up in, one without a never-ending war. I also dare this generation to view the Middle East in ways they may have never viewed it before, as an incredibly massive, diverse, and historic region that has contributed and continues to contribute so much goodness to the world, despite its recent history of political and social trauma. Young people have almost no say in our country’s decision to go to war, but we are the first expected to fight in them. The Trump Administration has proved time and time again that they are not operating in the best interest of young people, and as young people it is vital for us to consider the government, and the world, that we will be inheriting soon enough.

For more information about The Resistance Center for Peace and Justice and what you can do to prevent war in Iran, email us at Peace starts with our resistance together.