Friday, March 28, 2008

If You Have A Boy, You Have To Plan Ahead | Building A Peace Portfolio

Winston and I spent the entire day on Tuesday preparing to attend and attending a vigil marking the current death toll of the Iraqi War. It was a very moving experience for both of us. It also marked the beginning of a project I must commit to complete in fourteen years.
(I’ve been editing the video footage for the past three days - in case you wondered wher I’ve been.)

I have never liked war. I will never condone or support war. When I was raising a girl, my response to war was very different. When she turned eighteen, nobody would be poking around wondering why she hadn’t registered with selective service.

Back then, I made it to rallies - if I could. I wrote the infrequent check. I beeped my horn at the lone protester holding a cardboard sign on a chilly morning.

Suddenly, activism seems like it is no longer a choice. Without my activism, I will not have enough supporting evidence to help my son obtain the status of Conscientious Objector. And if history is truly cyclical, he will need a solid, comprehensive Peace Portfolio.

Back when Winston was barely two years old, I read an article in Mothering Magazine, entitled “How To Help Your Peace Loving Child Avoid The Draft.” I read the article during nap time as I lay on my side. His tiny body curled into mine - close as when he was still inside. His mouth twitched and suckled in his sleep. I remember putting the magazine down. Taking a deep breath. Wiping away a tear.

Then I added its advice to my very long list of things I had to do to protect this Black male life that my husband and I purposefully brought into this American life. Because we were determined to give him some better options than the current menu.

My husband and I choose not to be part of any of the religious orders which are granted conscientious objector status. For this reason, we have to plan ahead. The military complex may not have our son. And if you don’t want them to have yours, make a peace portfolio before your child has to register with selective service.

The Peace Portfolio would be presented to a draft board as evidence that your child is (and always had been) a conscientious objector. The ideal peace portfolio demonstrates a lifelong commitment to peace and non-violence.

Based on the article above and tips from Point Of Clarity. I’ve begun a file which will document Winston’s peace-related activities. Below find some tips on beginning your own.

1. Teach your child about peace. Play co-operative games and document them. Make crafts which exemplify peace. (For example, on the Autumn Equinox, we made wax paper lanterns and gave them to neighbours who could use a little light and peace in the darker days ahead. Save any thank you notes for the file.)

2. Attend peace rallies and other non-violent actions. Document every rally attended.
A. Preliterate children can be videotaped discussing peace.
B. Literate children should write a small blurb about the event.

3. Encourage the child to befriend the media. Preserve copies of any coverage they receive or generate your own archive by photographing ot videotaping them.
A. The preliterate child can be encouraged to wave or smile at news media.
B. The literate child can write letters to the editor, talk to camera people or speak at the rally itself.

4. A. If your child attends school, have your child write frequently about the importance of peace and non-violence. (When given a choice about topics.) Keep the teacher’s comments and/or the papers themselves.
B. If you home school, dedicate units of study to peace, peace activists and preserve any resulting materials in your portfolio.

5. Dedicate some family time to volunteering for peace organisations. Keep a log of volunteer hours, and activities.

Hopefully, when the time comes for him to register, we’ll be bringing a box full of documentation about why he can not be in that man’s army.


Karen James said...

And, a history specifically of being against War in any case. This, I have learned, is most crucial for avoiding "active duty". Apparently, during the draft, one cannot avoid being drafted into service of their country, but one can avoid active duty if they show a clear, long history of being against War in principle. In this case they would serve their time doing activities that do not include fighting. Ethan has a couple pages of writing in his own hand that say things like "War is not the Answer" And a sign that he made last year that simply says "NO WAR" We will keep adding things regularly, and are putting all of this in a folder, as well as scanning and filing it in multiple places so we will never lose it.

Christina Springer said...

Hey Karen, you're right. Thanks for that clarification. I understood that being a CO means avoiding active duty. The end of my article was poorly written.

I guess what I was trying to articulate was that paper pushing is a lot different than killing. And as much as - worst case scenario - he would have to be "in" the service, he would not be providing "the service" typically requested of young men."

Good point - I should have belaboured that a bit more.

Karen James said...

I loved the article you linked to from Mothering, and your tips for adding to a portfolio. (We loved seeing the photos too.) I also remember when you first enlightened us to this fact way back when the kids were small at play group. Thanks, Christina!

Anonymous said...

At first glance I was like no way.
Then I was like oh heck, my 14 year old, what about him is it to late? There is still a WAR going on and it may not be over before he is 18 and if so surely there may be someone who makes up another fictitious battle to fight.


I just wanted to chill today Christina. Why do you always have me "thinking", "working" needing to do more as a mommy?

Whaaaaaaa were's the play doh and Blues Clues???



Christina Springer said...

Sorry, Ayesha. Ain't that the thing? There is always something to do when you are a mother working to raise up strong kids.

Because you've been homeschooling, I'm sure it isn't too late. I know you've studied peace makers. Look through your son's work and see what you can find. I'm positive there will be lots.