We sat in AP Government
Legs crossed, hands folded
And we talked about Iraq
In calm voices with steady heartbeats.
Should we send ground troops?
Yes, one kid said
We must eliminate ISIS.
No, said another
Americans will die.
But are people not already dying?
Political stability in a far off country
Was not worth our fellow Americans.
The war was not our responsibility.
Whose was it?
American lives would be lost
And that was too much of a cost.
I asked if we were implying
American lives meant more,
That Iraqi deaths were not worth a fight.
In our little classroom we could not see
The dead Iraqi children
Or beheaded brothers.
We could not see the people that would continue to die.
Citizenship aside, would more people live if the U.S. stepped in?
There’s no way of knowing, the teacher replied.
But they’re dying now so we must decide.
He said 70% of troops do not want boots on the ground
While 45% of Americans wanted them there,
If the military thought that would be best.
Those 45% have their boots
Firmly on American soil
Their minds are unscathed by the horrors of war
And their lives will remain unchanged.
The soldiers we sent over would not come back,
Some mentally, others physically.
The VA Hospitals are in shambles,
And we send the poor to fight our wars.
Don’t send them, the class cried.
But that means ISIS will end more lives.
Obama decided on airstrikes
The best of the worst
Civilian deaths at our hands
Would be better than at the hands of ISIS.
But is that ours to decide?
How many lives are we willing to lose
In an effort to protect more later?
We didn’t know enough, the class said
We want a world without war
What will that take?
The teacher laughed
It wasn’t worth a reply.
Let’s eliminate this decision, we said
Let’s save every life
But we can’t and we won’t
Not yet, but maybe not forever