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Children in Starbase
I noticed today that the children two houses up the block had a lemonade stand in front of the house by the street. It was a hot day, good for a lemonade stand, but our stretch of Wells St. has little little traffic except during drive time when suburbanites race up and down our block going home or going to the expressway. I ventured out of my air conditioned house to get lemonade.
The mother of the family was outside. I knew the family had sold the house and was moving to Singapore. The mother and three children, age’s five to 10, are of Malaysian descent but it was the American father that got the job promotion that motivated the move. In Singapore, I understand, he will be only a few hours or so away from China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines where his business operates. Talking with the Mom, I learned that Singapore was an independent island city/state near the equator. I heard a lot about Singapore but until this evening was not too aware of its history or culture.
The mother said how it will be a big change for the three children, especially in going to school.
The oldest child is going into fifth grade, the same grade that the Department of Defense Starbase military training program will start in the Milwaukee Public Schools next year. Selling lemonade on the sidewalk and going to a military base from school one day a week is also a big change, something this child will not have to face.
The shock of the Milwaukee Public Schools signing a contract with Department of Defense for the Starbase program is slowly making its way into the consciousness of Milwaukee residents. The Starbase program is aimed at ‘children at risk’, code words for minority and low income children. The military in the USA spends a lot of money on children, youth and young adults in our education system, if not to recruit them into the military at least to present them with a positive image so we salute the role the military plays in this country and around the world. Our country spends more money on the military, whose object is to effectively inflict death and injury on the enemy, than all the other militaries in the world combined.
My neighboring children are not “at risk” and so would not be presented with the glorification of the military option in education. However, I discovered that Singapore, like the USA and many countries has built its security on military might and one of every four dollars the country spends is on the military.
Exposing children, youth and young adults who are developing their minds to military might is what I believe Jesus was talking about in the Gospel when after saying to enter the kingdom of God we must be like children and then warns: “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Children need more lemonade stands and less military salutes.