(Cross-posted from dKos due to demand for diaries)

This afternoon, I attended my local anti-war march and rally.  Marching along the city sidewalks, we’d repeat whatever anti-Bush or anti-war chant our leaders would shout out.  At first, I went along with this, even though shouting was unnatural for me, contrary as it is to my quiet disposition.

By the time we had traveled a short block, I found that I could not do it any longer.  Something was not right with those chants, and it wasn’t that there was nobody in the recruiting office to hear them on this Saturday afternoon.  These angry chants struck me as inappropriate for the occasion, the two year anniversary of the unjustifiable invasion that has resulted in the deaths of over 1500 United States soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians.
Not that we shouldn’t be angry with Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz and the other architects of the war, but on hearing the chants of “Bush lied, thousands died!” I was overwhelmed by a feeling of sadness.  Hearing these chants flow from my compatriots’ mouths without a hint of sadness in their voices, I could not help but wonder if they actually understood the implications of their words.  Were they thinking of the grieving families, the shattered dreams, the nation ravaged by war?  From the sounds of their voices, I  wouldn’t have guessed it.

I oppose war not for the purpose of opposing war but because of what war does to individuals and whole societies and also to the flora and fauna with which we share our planet.  I truly believe that those people with whom I marched this afternoon oppose war for many of the same reasons as I do.  I think, though, that it’s also important not to lose sight of these things and to take a minute to stop and think about the bottom line.  Yes, it’s depressing–some twelve hours later I still haven’t completely recovered–but we must always keep in mind the human side of what we’re fighting for.

After returning home from the rally, the war-focused events of the afternoon led me to contemplate the possibility of a draft.  I was reassured several weeks ago by a representative of American Friends Service Committee who said that a draft was unlikely because it would stir up opposition to the war among youth.  Yet as Seymour Hersh and others have pointed out, this administration does not bow to public pressure, certainly not after the election.  They believe that they are doing the right thing, and the public’s position is unimportant to them.  In light of this view, a draft seems like a definite possibility, and considering the lackluster recruiting figures, it seems probable, especially if we  go into Iran or Syria.

It seems to me from reading comments and diaries over the last few months, though, that some Democrats and progressives almost look forward to a draft because of the political damage it might bring to Bush and the Republican Congress. As a nineteen-year-old, I’d potentially be in the first group of draftees if there were a draft this year.  Next year, I’d be in the second group, and many of my friends will have moved into the first. I am, quite honestly, terrified by the prospect of a draft, afraid that I will be sent to a nation whose language I do not speak to kill innocent civilians in the name of a cause that will be discredited and replaced by a new rationale the following week.

As much as I’d like to see the Republicans go down in 2006 and 2008, I don’t believe that it’s worth scarring a generation for that to happen.  Winning elections is not an end in itself but a means to an end, and part of the end that we seek is the prevention of unnecessary deaths.  Even if it would bring Democratic losses next fall, I’d like to see us get out of Iraq without a draft, without another casualty and with democracy flourishing in Iraq.  If the Neoconservatives can achieve some of the goals that we hope to accomplish by electing Democrats (which I very much doubt), then so be it.  It is better than to elect Democrats only to find that the very things we have been working for–the human lives, the foreign alliances, the natural treasures and the promise of a better future–have been forever lost already.

Twelve hours later, I’ve just begun to move past my somber mood.  I’ve begun to be able to think about happier things, and a smile has slowly begun to work its way onto my face.  I smile not for what my country is today, but what it can be tomorrow.  I believe that we can fix America, although not without much hard work and perseverance.  But before we begin, let us stop, take a step back, and remember what it is that we’re working for.

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