Neuroscientists in the 21st century concluded our attention span has shrunk to a mere fifteen seconds.
Rather than set out to reconsider what brought our nation to “war between the states” because there is no such thing as “civil war” in which innocents are slaughtered, we may easily comprehend three lines of 5-7-5 syllables, called Haiku poetry.
The first conscription act compelled all males between fifteen and twenty five to be registered for military service. Exceptions were possible for anyone who could pay $300 or find a substitute. The inequities of such legislation led to riots among young men who were too poor to buy their way out of mandatory military service.
BUSINESS INSIDER (October 2, 2015) reported the US had recorded 390 mass shootings. Law Enforcement agencies reported 1,165,383 violent crimes (including murders, homicides) in 2015.
Regardless of their religious affiliation, institutions of higher education that benefited from the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1864 require students to be enrolled in Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). How does such mandatory legislation differ from military conscription?
As a student in the Land Grant Catholic University of Dayton (1956 – 1957), I was totally unfamiliar with the ROTC program. As I obediently followed the list of requirements at the time of enrollment an officer in charge of the ROTC building using “unsavory language” ordered me to leave the campus when I politely rejected mandatory military training.
In order to survive as a student of religion, psychology and economics, I was subjected to intensive “military science” three mornings weekly plus drilling in lethal military exercises two afternoons. In addition to training for accuracy at the rifle range, we were taught how to place bayonets on the barrel of our WWII (M-1) Garand rifles, then release a “primal scream” as we practiced killing an “enemy” by running the bayonet through a stuffed dummy. Our instructors looked on with satisfaction.
Being ordered in the rifle range to “go for a head or heart shot” I wondered how our training could be reconciled with classes in scripture or theology. Violent actions we were being taught in ROTC would certainly lead us directly into civil courtrooms and long prison terms if carried out on streets of Dayton, Ohio.
Although we were recipients of student deferments from military conscription, indirectly we were being drawn into military service. Graduates of ROTC became commissioned officers upon leaving.
Notre Dame University is known for football more than academic excellence. When Fr. Theodore Hesburgh tried to change the image by scaling back football, the alumni forced Hesburgh to recant. Fr. Hesburgh died at age 97.
Would he or any Holy Cross members have challenged co-existence of Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine ROTC training in a Catholic institution where “You must not kill” (Exodus 20:13 Matthew 5) is indelible on every Christian conscience?