While I’ve told you my reasons for participating in civil disobedience, I don’t think I’ve shared much about why I am choosing to be part of the spiritual movement of the Poor People’s Campaign, a national call for moral revival.
When I served as a Nuclear Biological Chemical Specialist in the U.S. National Guard, I made a pledge to protect my country like my parents and grandparents before me. But in 2006, I refused deployment after the Bush administration lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
As we remembered on Memorial Day, patriotism can mean serving and dying for your country. It can also mean telling hard truths about our government. When I refused deployment, I had hard questions.
How could we wage a fruitless war when so many veterans return home without the full benefits they were promised? When PTSD and poor access to healthcare have caused their suicide rates to rise?
How can we give away billion-dollar military contracts when servicemembers’ families must live on food stamps and so many veterans are homeless?
Why are we sending poor people from this nation to fight poor people in other nations?
Twelve years later, I’m still asking these questions.
My parents met in the U.S. Air Force. They joined because they believed America’s principle of freedom for all was worth upholding despite its flaws. But their full-time employment didn’t keep me from growing up on food stamps. It was 1984. We lived in a trailer park near Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina because the military would not provide us housing.
In 2018, our country is trillions of dollars in debt from waging the longest wars in our history—wars that benefit weapons manufacturers while deepening poverty in the U.S. and abroad. Military families here still need food stamps, while 10 million people in Afghanistan and Pakistan are homeless due to war.
It’s time we demand an exit strategy, and that’s why I’m part of the Poor People’s Campaign. At the end of the day, all of the great things we are praying for in our world are blocked by the same thing: greed. If we can join together, we can make this place better, here and now.