Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Swaddling Suburban Students

The internet is flooded with stories and opinion pieces about the death of Bin Laden.  You cannot help but marvel at the variety of reactions to the event.  While scanning one such article I read about the participants in a Rutgers University program which chronicles the experiences of the children of 9/11 victims.  I think that the project is admirable.  But on reading the comments of some of the students who are making this project possible it occurs to me that perhaps two years of compulsory military service [or a pacifist equivalent for those who conscientiously object] is not a bad idea. 

What brings me to this conclusion is the comments made by university students in this CNN piece.  "I don't like the concept of 'celebrating' death," "Killing bin Laden does not bring back the lives of all those lost on 9/11. I think it teaches the encouragement of death. But death is not the answer."  I feel bad for this student.  And sadly, this is the result of twenty years of suburban privilege.

I do not pretend to know this young lady and maybe she struggled out of the crippling grip of some urban ghetto to pursue her academic dreams at New Jersey’s leading university.  But more likely she is the product of a comfortable middle class upbringing where her parents [rightfully] did their collective best to guard her from the ugliness of the world.  But sadly, they [and I to my children] have left them with a very unrealistic view of the world.

We are all lucky to live in the greatest country in the world.  But sometimes we forget that the price of that luck [or Divine Providence] is that there are many out there in the cruel world who would destroy us just because of who we are or what our country stands for. 

But there is an ongoing cost for that freedom.  And it is paid for every day by the members of our Armed Forces.  Through the risk of life and limb and extended separations from those that they love they shield the rest of us from those who would do us harm.  Frankly, I think that they take these brave men and women for granted.  Perhaps protecting our country while serving overseas, or rebuilding it from within will orient them to what really is at stake.  And develop in them the understanding of what a truly special gift our citizenship is.

The shield we build around our kids is making them vulnerable and by extension making our country vulnerable in years to come.  They need to understand that those who took to the streets to celebrate the elimination of Bin Laden did so not to encourage or celebrate death.  The outpouring of joy was that another major player in the war against our country was removed.  Great progress was made in dismantling his terror organization.  And maybe, just maybe, one more brave soldier will be able to come home in one piece because of his death.  That is why we celebrate. 

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