Anti-war talk: Only toy guns

Speech delivered at an anti-war rally at SF State on Feb. 15, in support of the student strikes happening on other campuses in the country.

I’m Russell Kilday-Hicks, I work and go to school here at SF State.

My 22-year-old son Matthew is currently in his fourth month of a one-year tour somewhere north of Baghdad, Iraq. He joined the National Guard out of high school right after the Sept. 11, 2001 tragedy. He said he wanted to defend his country and he wanted money for college. I’m sure he is not getting what he expected right now. Sadly, he is not defending his country but the gluttony, arrogance, and insanity of our leaders, something you are all familiar with, what they call “The American Way of Life.” I ask you, why does our way of life have to be a way of death for the world? Why are they sending our sons and daughters to kill in our name instead of to college?

Anti-war veteran Liam Madden, also 22, was here last week. He asked us to remember how many times we were asked growing up what we wanted to be. He said to compare that with how many times you were asked what kind of world do you want to live in when you grow up. Well, I asked my six-year-old son that question and he replied: “A world where the only guns are toy guns.”

I ask you to make the connections between the occupation of Iraq and the world (with over 700 U.S. military bases and growing) and your tuition increases (up nearly 80 percent in the last few years with another 10 percent increase in the governor’s budget proposal); make the connections between the way faculty and staff are treated in the CSU system and the quality of the education found here — and then think about the reason you are going to college. You are here to better yourselves, to get a good job when you graduate, but I hope you come away with a much larger dream than that. Dream a better world, where the guns shoot human kindness in the minds of six year olds.

In the words of my younger son’s favorite singer, hip-hop artist Michael Franti: “You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can’t bomb it into peace.” Thank you.

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