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Friday, March 8, 2013



I had a girlfriend when I was seven years old.  Well, I had a friend who was a girl.  Ann Travers was a tall brunette who could throw like a boy.  Ann lived a couple of blocks from my home.  After school I would occasionally stop and play at her house.

I don’t remember what we would play, probably catch and there may have been a little “House” involved.  It was with Ann Travers that I remember having my first debate on a social issue.  The debate/argument was on which was better, being a boy or being a girl.

It was an argument I lost when Ann hit me with the ultimate “why it was bad being a boy” argument.  Some 60 years later I think I could find arguments to neutralize her final assertion that defeated me, but back then I was speechless and defeated.  I remember this argument because of the silliness, and then the stark realism that only seven year olds could share and innocently accept.

As the first baby boomers, born in 1946, we were both keenly aware of war.  We were born right after WWII and the Korean War had just ended.  Our argument went like this:

“Boys are better than girls, we get to play sports.”

“Girls are better; we don’t have to go to work and boys do.”

“Girls have to wash dishes and change diapers.”

“Boys are dirty and they smell.”

“Girls play with dolls and have to mess with their hair.”

“Boys can’t cook.”

“Girls have to cook, wash clothes and clean TOILETS!

This was the best I had.  At seven we both knew nothing of that “menstrual thing” or the pain of child birth.  I thought I had her with cleaning toilets, but then she hit me with the bomb.

“Boys have to go to war and get killed!”

Today I would respond that girls have to stay at home and worry while their “boy” was at war.  Today girls also go to war; but at seven years old the argument was over.

I stopped playing with Ann after that day.  Not long after, my family moved from the west coast back east.  I never forgot her winning argument why being a boy is worse than being a girl,

“Boys have to go to war and get killed!”

Not so innocent for seven year olds.

I was lucky and I never went to war.  Many boys my age and younger boys that followed have gone to war and have been killed.

A seven year old boy and girl casually accepted the fact that “boys have to go to war and be killed.”  I imagine seven year olds the world over accepted this concept.  Maybe that is why we have wars.

Maybe the day will come when seven year olds the world over will realize how awful is this simple concept.  Maybe these seven year olds the world over will become nation leaders.  Maybe the day will come when  these leaders of all nations will say NO!

“Boys don’t have to go to war and be killed.”



  1. Maybe Joe - it's something to strive and hope for isn't it?

  2. It isn't the seven-year-olds who have to reject the idea of war; it's the adults. Especially the politicians who hide safely behind their desks and play lethal games with the blood of their citizenry.

  3. times have changed - or have they? *sigh*

  4. If only we lived in a world where war didn't feature in the conversations of 7 year olds.

  5. what's the saying?? things change but stay the same??

  6. Wow! What a deep thought from such a young child, and we were far less "world-wise" back in those days too! I shudder to think of what horrors today's children are aware of. I have to agree with Ann, it has never made any sense to me that boys, or girls, have to go to war and be killed... every warrior was somebody's child. No mother or father should ever have to lose a child in this senseless way. I say, let the politicians who make wars go and fight them, I think we would soon see an end to war then!

  7. Amen, Joe. I'm with you (and Josie Two Shoes).

  8. If that could only be...

  9. I so wish that day would come, Joe, but I'm not holding my breath. As long as there is greed and ego and a lust for power in the world people will fight. And die. Pity.


  10. In my neighborhood, we just played doctor.

  11. Profound column, Joe. Lord help us all that some people see women being allowed into battle as a sign of forward progress. Real progress would be NOBODY being allowed into battle.

  12. Let me amend my comment. REAL progress would be to have only the politicians who declare war allowed to fight them. If it was they, rather than nameless and faceless (to them) soldiers being sent to have their arms and legs blown off, we'd see about a 99% decrease in war.

    Fat chance.