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Gainful Employment


It is difficult to be optimistic during these times. Especially when you read about a woman with ovarian cancer whose husband has lost his job and, therefore, has no health insurance for his family. With limited options and a wife whose illness requires treatment, the husband makes a decision—to join the military. He enlists in the Army with the certainty of multiple combat deployments, unless he is severely wounded or is killed during his first tour of duty, so that his wife can continue her own battle, against disease.

Call me a cynic, but when the recession/depression descended near the end of George Bush’s eight-year rape of our country’s financial and moral scaffolding, I added the Wall Street debacle to the litany of US imperialist expediencies. One failure to regulate the paper vapor was the contrivance to avoid reinstatement of conscription. So much better to have the out-of-work filling the quotas at military recruitment centers. Let’s face it, a draft just might result in American moms and dads choosing to march in the streets to say no to war instead of hypnotically reaching for the remote to watch the season’s next top something or to listen for the cue of a laugh track. (Yes, we are even prompted to laugh.)

But we should be crying. For those who have to make such a difficult choice, one that demands a lengthy departure, for months at a time, a year or longer, and not just to a nearby location, but a distant separation, thousands of miles away from a sick loved one. And from the children.

We should be crying for those who have lost their jobs (identity) and, thus, their health care, and, perhaps, their homes to this design, a reprehensible scheme that preserves endless fodder for endless war for endless employment with poor pay and a high risk of maiming, traumatic brain injury, and post traumatic stress disorder, if not death. But, of course, there are the benefits, including travel to an exotic land, ravaged and savaged by our weapons of mass terrorism, where babies are born with unthinkable deformities as a result of the chemicals we have unleashed on the environment.

And we should be crying for the displaced, those refugees who have fled for safety in other countries, or those who have stayed, witnesses to the disfigurement of their children, relatives, friends and land.

And we should cry for the dead in these places we invade and occupy under the guise of bestowing freedom and democracy.

We should be crying that our violence brings limitless sorrow, despair, and suffering.

We should be crying that our inhumanity diminishes us, is criminal, and continues in our names.

MISSY BEATTIE lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at:



Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail:

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