Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Accidental Minor

Through my coursework here at school, I managed to take as many Introductory classes as possible. It's not that I don't like learning. I love to learn. I just love to learn in pre-laid out, easy-to-follow formats which include daily readings on the syllabus and a couple of exams. Plus, as a Sociology/Anthropology major, I write a whole lot of papers. I always wanted to fill in my schedule with classes that didn't have papers. I wanted a little more variety than hundreds of pages of essays. And no, that's not really an exaggeration. I really do write that many pages in a semester.

Last spring when I sat down to fill out my application for graduation, I realized that I was only one class away from a Peace Studies minor. All of my introductory classes had fulfilled the rest of the requirements. All I had left was Intro to Peace Studies! So I registered for it.

But what business do I have a Peace Studies minor? I'm an ARMY WIFE for goodness sake! My husband is a SOLDIER. Peace is a far-off dream in our world most days. Looming deployments and yellow ribbons are more of our norm.

I knew going into this class that it was going to be a struggle. After all... I go to a private liberal arts school. We are taught to criticize and tear apart documents and information. Our professors lean so far to the left I'm sometimes surprised they don't all walk in circles. We have a club called Queers & Allies but bringing in a Pro-Life speaker causes nothing but controversy.

Yesterday, our professor (a Godly woman who goes to my church) invited three Army ROTC cadets and one veteran of both Iraq & Afghanistan to class to talk about how they reconcile their military service with their liberal arts education. Because apparently, educated folks are ALWAYS against war and violence?

I was so impressed with the cadets and veterans. One girl, a very outspoken critic of all things violent and/or unjust, asked what each would do if they disagreed with a future war that we could possibly get into. As officers, how would they respond to an order to deploy in support of a war they didn't agree with.

Every single one of them stood their ground. "I signed a contract." "I gave up my right to speak my mind so that you can speak yours." "It's my job and I'm proud to do it."

It takes a lot of courage to say those things in a room full of zealous peace studies students who believe that cutting down trees for paper and houses is violent.

I saw nothing but pride in the uniform they wore, grace for those they were serving, and the honor I have so desperately missed in my time away from a military community.

What a privilege to participate in a conversation with such promising young leaders.

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