Thursday, May 22, 2008

Raindrops Falling On My Head

Happy Thursday! If you're not feeling like it's a particularly happy Thursday, you might change your mind after looking at this:
A mama Capybara getting a kiss from her daughter. Who knew rodents could be so freaking cute?

Speaking of animals, a donkey just got released from jail in Mexico after his owner paid the bail. No, for serious. The donkey basically got in a bar fight and kicked two guys' asses (or should I say butts, just to be clear?). It's things like this that make me want to visit Mexico again.

Tonight is kickball night, hurray! Last week's game reminded how much fun this playground sport is. I'm of the opinion that there should be an Olympic category for it in the Summer Games. I'd be glued to the TV. Also, my family is coming to visit this weekend! They arrive on Saturday around noon and leave Monday night. This means Yuval will finally get to meet Dad and Megan. I'm not worried: Mom loved him, and I'm in love with him, so there's nothing bad they could possibly have to say about him. A BBQ with Yuval's parents is planned for Sunday lunch. Yummy!

Yesterday had me going through many emotional ups and downs because of different news items I encountered. Yeah, maybe it's a little weird getting emotional over news that's not related to earthquakes and floods and the ending of the world, but I've got PMS so give me a break--the emotional barriers in my brain aren't at 100% right now. Jezebel, my current go-to blog for news in the world of modern feminist issues in media/news/public opinion, published a story yesterday about photographer Rachel Papo's new book featuring her photo series on female Israeli soldiers (of which she was one from 1988-90). That's not the part that got me upset--in fact, if the book wasn't $250 I'd totally pre-order it on Amazon. What got me upset was this book, a fascinating look at the portrayal of Israeli female soldiers, and the juxtaposition it creates with the horrendously offensive spread that Maxim published recently on the same topic. If you don't want to take the time to read the stories, at least watch this video and see if you can understand why I was so upset when I found out about it:

I completely agree with the female Knesset member who they quote. Really, Israel? The only idea you can come up with to boost your tourism numbers is to exploit your female soldiers in a men's porn magazine? Have some respect for the women of your country! At the very least you could have a spread of male Israeli soldiers put in Vogue or Elle or something to balance out the gender issues! Ugh.

One of the comments on the Jezebel post got me thinking about how Yuval has convinced me to reverse my position on mandatory military service/conscription. Realize he wasn't actively trying to change my opinion, just explain his own on why he thinks that Israel's policy of mandatory 2-year army service is a brilliant idea. I'm a staunch pacifist, always have been. I'm 100% against killing anyone for any reason. That part in The Once and Future King when Arthur learns that humans and ants are the only creatures that kill their own? Yeah, it's stuck with me since 8th grade. So clearly I've been against a draft and mandatory military service for as long as I've had an opinion.

But Yuval made the (excellent) point that, since everyone is required to serve in Israel, they are much more cautious about their military decisions and everyone cares a lot more about what exactly the military does. Yes, they kill Palestinians just as the Palestinians kill them (Yuval and I have had many discussions about this), but not everyone is a sniper. You can be a medic, work in an office, or do airport security (which is provided by the army in Israel, not the police). His mom worked in an office for her two years of service and never saw a fight. Yes, they all carry M-16's around with them, but it's part of their uniform just like their boots--they're required to have it. And it's not like they're running around looking for an excuse to fire it. Regardless of your feelings on guns, they are much more prevalent in Israel and cause a lot fewer (non-military) related deaths than here in America. Now, I'm not exactly pro-gun--I'm terrified just to touch one--but clearly Israel's acceptance of them as a presence in society hasn't caused crime rates to skyrocket or anything.

Now, he and I both admit that a mandatory conscription law would never fly here in the US. There are too many rich Congressmen and business folks with too much power to ever let something like that out of committee. But think about it. If everyone was required to serve for 2 years, don't you think the US would be a lot less cavalier about sending troops off to fight pointless wars that have no clear battle plan? The answer would be a resounding "yes" since everyone would have that common experience and no one is exempt--not the rich, not the poor, not the elite, not the middle-class. Bush probably wouldn't have been so quick to attack Afghanistan and Iraq if Jenna was required to serve in the military. Lord knows those 2 years of service have generated a much tighter-knit sense of community and duty in Israel. It's humbling, in a way. No one is above the law, but because of it Israelis are much more self-conscious about their use of force.

Any thoughts out there on this? Like I said, this by no means should translate to "Erin is pro-draft and loves the military." A draft is different (and I'm against it), and I argued with Yuval about the fairness of forcing pacifists like me to aid an organization that kills people. He said that, if I really didn't want to support the army in any way that lets them kill people, then I would request airport security--where your whole purpose is to save people who have no intention of harming anyone. And I'm also not saying Israel and their military tactics are perfect.

All I'm saying is, now that I've had lots of open discussion and debate about it, I think that required military service is a good idea. Comments button, GO!

Oh, and for anyone out there who has any interest/knowledge of Greek mythology (JEFF!) and is looking for some fun summer reading, check out the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. It's reminiscent of Harry Potter with the "half-blood" and "special place for special kids" shtick, but it's much funnier and the main character isn't nearly as whiny and annoying. The whole premise of the series is that the Greek gods are still alive and kicking, but immortal doesn't mean people will believe in you forever. You just live forever. And they're all still up to their old habits, i.e. having lots of kids with mortals. In the first book Percy discovers that he's a son of Poseidon, his ADHD is a result of his ingrained battle instinct to never stay still, and his dyslexia is actually caused by his brain trying to read everything as if it's ancient Greek. He makes friends with Grover (a satyr) and Annabeth (a daughter of Athena), and together the three of them must stop an evil force that's trying to rise from Tartarus that's been plotting revenge for 1,000+ years. Really fun stuff, and very quick reads.

Owly Vol. 1: The Way Home & The Bittersweet Summer by Andy Runton
Owly Vol. 2: Just a Little Blue by Andy Runton
Owly Vol. 3: Flying Lessons by Andy Runton
Owly Vol. 4: A Time to Be Brave by Andy Runton
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & the Olympians Book 1) by Rick Riordan
The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson & the Olympians Book 2) by Rick Riordan
Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 [Issue 1] by David Petersen
Mouse Guard: Winter 1152, [Issue 2] by David Petersen

1 comment:

Cori said...

The other major point in thinking about mandatory military in the US is that it's a heckuvalot bigger than Israel. In order to maintain a military of any size, which they need given their location, they HAVE to have all adults participate at some point. The US has a large enough population to maintain a substantial force without the draft or required service.

I bet it reduces the number of muggings... if all adults have served in the military, trying to rob somebody probably won't work so well!

Also, I got your postcard!