The most popular conversation among young men in my classes at Moffat County High School, and likely others all over the country is WWIII.
“Hey Coach, you think we will get drafted?” “Do you think they’ll use nuclear bombs?” “What do you think we will do if Russia doesn’t stop attacking Ukraine?” “Would you fight if you were drafted, Coach?”
Common questions and common concerns about a not-so-common event in the lives of most high school seniors. We have all lived through some important and sometimes earth-shattering global conflicts but, this seems to be one that has gotten the attention of American teenagers because it might affect them in ways that they have not had to be concerned with before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
I ask our young men who are committed to joining the military after graduating from high school, and they tell me that they aren’t too concerned. They must have some insider information, because if it was one of my sons; I would be worried, scared, and a little freaked out. But wisdom tells us that at this point in the Ukraine-Russia “conflict,” nobody on this side of the ocean should be too immediately worried about an imminent draft or escalation of American forces (but we know that can all change fairly quickly).
However, when I speak with some of our foreign exchange students, they have some different thoughts about what is going on in their part of the world. Two students from Spain just think Putin is a “crazy man.” But a student who comes to Craig from Poland has other concerns and worries about what will happen if the war spills over into her country. She worries about not being around her family but is conflicted because she knows that she is safe where she is right now.
Battles halfway around the world have an impact on our attitude and psyche as we try to wind down our concerns about the worldwide pandemic and now we get hit with this kind of news. It’s easy to say that battles across the globe are part and parcel of living in a world of people who don’t always agree and have different ideas about what constitutes normal life. The shared values of our NATO alliance should provide some sense of security and strong voice for the values of freedom and democracy.
We can say a lot about what we see going on and support groups that are organizing to help the people affected by this war, but it is a weird, uneasy feeling to watch the news and know that there really isn’t anything we can do except monitor one man who will make choices that will have a ripple effect throughout the entire world. It’s worth considering how much our choices and decisions will have an impact on those around us.
Hopefully wars, and rumors of more wars, will start to open up the conversation again around what our shared values are and how we use words like freedom and democracy as more than just talking points. Onward history — let’s hope and pray for the best outcome.
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