Guest Columnist #64 - Subvert the Military

     A while ago I got the chance to go to this workshop in Chicago called BASIC TRAINING FOR PEACE. It was a weekend workshop that was tied to the CCCO (Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors). The people that happened to put on this workshop were from Philadelphia. Despite the fact that not as many people showed up as was expected / hoped, it was a totally great time and very worthwhile.
     The purpose, (I thought) of this whole thing was to go over the many distorted facts the combined U.S. military presents to the public about enlistment and what happens thereafter. We were presented the actual realities of "military opportunity" by hearing actual statistics reflecting the realities of military life. About how fundamental / constitutional rights can be taken away quite easily from a person once he / she is in the military. What low percentages of enlistees actually end up receiving the full amount of college money that they're always promised. Such an expansive, intense amount of valuable information was spoken about during that weekend. At times my attention wavered trying to absorb it all. I had a notebook / pen with me, and leave it to me to be a slacker ... I only came out of it with just a little over a half-page of notes. To be honest, I just gave up taking notes after a while. I felt like I was in school or something. So I just tried to listen for the rest of the time.
     Now, of course, I wish I had taken more notes so I could share more of this. Here's a little portion of what we went over according to the smurf amount of notes I took:

= escape

From those three, we went on to think about what is involved with submitting one's self to a life in the military:

=authoritarian environment
=lack of glory / disappointment
=broken promises
=dehumanizing effects
=killing / brutality

(Discipline with these laws will be dealt with in the military.)
    A limited punishment can be given ... a  "hearing" will hand out punishment.
    Charges will be brought by officer who picks the jury.

     As far as notes, that was all I had. By far, my favorite part of the weekend was when we split up into different groups. I and the other "youth" who were there got together and talked with the youth intern who had come to help run the workshop. She told us about the individual potential of all of us to challenge the military's claims. She went over the steps to take to counter military recruitment in our local municipalities, which for all of us at the time was school.

1)     The CCCO does take a stand as being an anti-war organization, but believes that the decision to enlist in the military should be and is one's own personal choice in the end.
2)     However, another things the CCCO believes in is that before any individual makes that decision, he / she should know what they are getting into by having the facts.

But, of course, the "facts" of this matter are distorted, misleading, and prey on people's self-esteem and lack of motivation in their own lives. The CCCO works to change this by helping to distribute information in the form of flyers pamphlets, etc. that present the other side, not the same side the combined U.S. military is on. This side tirelessly works to suck people into enlisting with their aggressive recruitment system / tactics.
3)     The CCCO believes in the idea of "equal access." What this means is that wherever military recruitment propaganda is displayed, equal space should be (and will be) given in the same place for anti-recruitment literature. Both sides of the recruitment issue should be represented at these propaganda stations. If this idea of joining the military is going to be an option / factor in peoples' lives, then people should go into their decision with wide-open eyes, and understand the realities involved with what they are getting into.

     The following are the "steps" to go through in order to establish "equal access" in one's local municipalities. These steps can be applied to any kind of place, but I am going to use school as an example here. Most of what I will go over is based on what I learned at the workshop, however some tips / extra information will be added in by me, being someone who has experienced part of this process in a community college I attended for a couple years. This should be quite similar to a high school situation, since a lot of community colleges are high school with ashtrays.

1) First thing's first. Get in touch with a CCCO contact in either Philadelphia or San Francisco. Request a sufficient amount of a variety of literature that would be well-suited for the size of your school. If it takes a while to get your literature, don't be afraid to bug them a dozen or more times about it ... kick them in their collective ass until you get the stuff you need.
2) After you get your literature, now it's time to do some scoping. Take some time to go through your school and locate the distribution center for military recruitment propaganda. After you've located the main one, don't stop your effort there. Look everywhere around your school for any type of military propaganda that may be on display. Look in the library, the office(s) of the guidance counselors, all the other offices, the cafeteria, the janitor's closet, or any place you can think of. Ask teachers, registrars, janitors, and others for help.
3) Now that you've found the places where the CCCO literature should be displayed alongside the military propaganda, it's now up to you to get your actions considered 'legitimate.' What this means is that it will be much more effective in the long run if you take the time to get recognized by the school as having the RIGHT to display your literature and foster the idea of "equal access" to information. If you can make your action legit, it will be much more effective as far as getting this information out to people. Be a smart activist in this case instead of a knee-jerk reactionary punk kid. Here's how:
    It is best to go straight to the top on this one by going to the administration. Write a letter to the president / principal of your school and ask very politely (do not demand) for permission to make "equal access (equal space)" happen and allow for the distribution / display of your literature wherever the military propaganda is already present. Tell them the basic reasons why you want this to be done, relating all of this once again to "equal access."
4) If the president / principal gives you permission, CONGRATULATIONS! You got yourself a victory. Load up your legitimate equal space(s) with your literature, and rest assured that you are helping to educate people about the lies the military spreads through its self-promotion.
5) If permission is not granted, do not get down about it. They have only begun to deal with you. Get back in touch with the CCCO and give them an update on your situation / struggle and the road block you have encountered. The CCCO has been known to be very sympathetic to peoples' dilemmas they get involved in when meeting opposition from school administrations. They will hopefully help you out in making a legal case against your school for denying your request to equal access. Taking your school to court......... now doesn't that sound like fun? The CCCO has experience with these cases. All you have to do is get in touch and they will hopefully help you out. Individual schools reach a hell of a lot of people, and getting equal access to be a legit reality can make a HUGE difference.
6) Your struggle does not end here. Find out when your school is having its next job fair or any other event where the military will seize an opportunity to represent itself by tabling or other methods. Get equal space at the event so you can table CCCO literature to counterbalance the military's perspective.
7) If at all possible, find out when and where the military is going to show up at your school at any other misc. time besides a job fair or something like that. Whenever the military is present, it is important to present another side to the public and let everyone know that not everyone agrees with what the military is presenting or wants them to even be there.

    The only way you are going to get this going is by starting all of this yourself, on your own. That's the beauty of all this, it can be done by just one person. Once things get rolling, it is in most cases more likely that others will latch on and help out. It is sometimes the most difficult step to get something started. Therefore, you must be the one to do it because everyone else is too lazy an won't follow up.
    Certain steps of this action will undoubtedly be easier with others helping you. For example, tabling at a job fair / or another time when the military is present could prove to be more difficult just working by yourself. Find some reliable people to form with you a wall of solidarity toward EQUAL ACCESS. Talk to people about what you are doing. Communicate, don't just be a zombie handing people literature hoping they'll read it front to back. Get personal, tell others how the information you're trying to get out to the public will affect them.
    Be ready for unexpected drop-in visits by the military. Get a little promo-pack together that can be carried around with you at all times that won't be a burden. Get so you could be ready to distribute a variety of quality literature to the public at a moment's notice. Sometimes life is all about adaptability. Use preparation to your advantage. Be a pain in the ass to the military's recruitment quota whenever they show up in the form of pamphlets, posters, fliers, television / radio commercials, or if they show up themselves: Don't let military people or certain others get you down by trying to intimidate you regarding your stance. You have every right to present your opinion / side on this issue. After all, what the military is presenting is their opinion. It's just that their opinion happens to be the more established one as of now.

Get EQUAL ACCESS to happen in your area.
Much thanx to Sarah, Mario, Alex, and the rest of those who helped make the workshop in Chicago possible. Also, thank-you Paul for getting me in touch with the event.
—Phil Sledgehammer
12870 E. 2200th St./ Atkinson IL 61235