Good morning. My name is Mark Jacobs, and on November 5th of this year I will turn 18.
As a legal adult, I will be one of many young men who could become a soldier for America in the near future. I say this because there has been talk, both in form of trivial rumors and in the slightly more worrisome element of polls on the issue being conducted by professional news agencies, of restoration of the draft.
Let me make one thing clear, Mr. President - I am not Canadian, I am not French, I am not Egyptian, Hungarian, Greek, Thai, or Polynesian. Nor am I American. I sir, am human. As such I respect, admire, and extol life in general, especially life which can do and be as much as we humans can.
So let me ask you, Mr. President, are you human? I do not care now if you are of one nation or continent or another; whether you are white or black or African or Asian; whether yours is a God named Buddha or a God with no name. I care that you would ask me to take up a gun and shoot down another human.
Sometimes, Mr. President, a human can be too bad, a soul can go too wrong, a belief can be taken too far - and so with Mr. bin Laden I will respect and even assist your decision to kill, for when there is that much to be gained, that much life to be preserved, I can understand your anger.
Let me promise you though, that if I am made to go to war, if I am drafted in any capacity be it with my fingers on the trigger of the gun or the keyboard of an office, I will do my best to be my least. The army of this country may boast that therein one may "be all that you can be", but I cannot accept that in the employ of an armed service one is ever at his utmost. The epitome of life is never in it's own defense, ironic as that may be, and I am of the sort who would rather be defended by the violent or die, than defend himself. Call me slothful and lazy if you will, but I simply cannot kill. There are centipedes, spiders, ants, and mice that live in the walls of my home. I do not remove them or destroy them or tear down their webs because, like my grandmother who fed leftover potato scraps to the rats in her basement, they are alive, and I see no superiority above them in myself. Yes, there must be compromises between intermingling varieties of life, and so, yes, I'll support the decision to remove Osama bin Laden, but that is all I will support, Mr. President. Nations are nations, and while petty in their nature, they are proud in their ways. If one nation prefers to promote that which another nation despises, who are we to say we are right? Freedom cannot be freedom if you must pay that high a price for it.
I have a girlfriend, Mr. President, and I have a tree. I care for them both. My girlfriend I talk to when she's feeling lonely, or hold her, or love her. My tree I water and... well, talk to it too. To be frank, sir, I am but one. How many girlfriends and trees and other live things would you let down because your nation's pride was wounded?
I understand, Mr. President, truly I do. It is hard for me to write these words because part of me does see the need to defend... but in the end, I simply cannot put freedom above life. I simply cannot say that I'd rather be alive and at war for freedom, than dead.
So, Mr. President, let me warn you. Let me warn you not of a violent thing, but of a truly painful one. If you make me go to war, and if I am sent off to those fields of battle, I will do my least - I will defend myself alone, and no one else. I will not kill the enemy and I will not save my comrades, for they are not the sort of person who I would be inclined to save while they endeavored to kill. And when I return from war, if I return from war, I will find a loud microphone, Mr. President, and proclaim unto all the world how vile and depraved you are, and I will tear up American flags and I will burn down American flags and I will tread muddy boots on American flags, and I will let them know that no matter how bad they are, we're just as bad for lowering ourselves to their level, and when I am done, and my anger is out, I will weep for the sake of guilt that I was that sorrowed and demoralized in my manner.
I am a loving, caring, creature, Mr. President - I write of the mountains and sing of the flowers, and it would be a tragedy beyond your wildest dreams if I were to die and those words and those songs no longer should flow.
This is not a time for war, Mr. President, and I am not a man to fight. Call me meager, call me weak, but if you do, don't dare call yourself human. Then, as the bullets fly and the bombs explode, you will know what it means to be American. American - angry, animalistic. American, sir, could mean joyous, gay, or merry. Thus am I, and thus I wish the world would be.
It is, succinctly, wrong to kill in response to killing. War will not build us new towers, war will not bring back the dead. War will only make a good world bad, and that sir is a choice I leave up to you.
I have already made my choice, sir, and that is to help those who can be helped, and then move on. It is time now, sir, to move on.
I have said before and say again, let us invest what funds we have not in some new campaign against minorities who would hurt majorities, but rather in erecting a newer, taller, better, stronger tower. If America is proud, then let us put the projectiles of pride and the missiles of our might into that tower, that if in the future a plane should make for them, it could be shot down before they crumble. Let us put on the top of this tower, beneath a crystal dome high above the world – where they breathed their last breaths – a memorial garden just the same as any on the ground would be, but higher, taller, and prouder. Let the world know that we intend to go on living, and let us go on living, and let us fly from the top of this new tower so great and radiant a standard of our patriotism as has never been flown before, a swath of cloth so great of size and brilliant of hue that no eye could pass across it without marveling at it’s make and wondering in awe of it’s makers.
Please, Mr. President, don't make me kill, and don't make me work for an agency that kills. The armed forces may be right for some, but now is the least time to begin a campaign of violence. The time has come to show the world what progress truly is. After Chicago was burned to the ground in the 19th century, a newer, stronger city took it's place, a pristine civilization in the place of a filthy one. So with forests and life in general, destruction is part of the pace. Well, now we have a place at the heart of our civilization, right in the midst of our biggest city, where nothing stands. For years they have spoken of building taller, taller, towers, and for years they have wondered where. The time has come, the place has been prepared. A monolithic, towering symbol of America would be a far, far greater memorial than anything else...
And please, Mr. President, don't let's go to war.