But I got over each of them in time not to make a fool of myself and min my life. Just a term of service — not career. Listen, and let me tcllvow what you are going to do — because youwant to. In the first place this family has stayed out of politics and cultivated its own garden for over a hundred years — I see no reason for you to break that fine record. You know the one I mean. Foreigner, no doubt. It ought to be against the law to use the schools as undercover recruiting stations. He — "I stopped, not knowing how to describe it. Dubois had a snotty, superior manner; he acted as if none of us was really good enough to volunteer for service.
Do you know how to lead a pig? Never mind. How does that strike you as a program?
As compared with wasting two years of your life? But look at the real facts. This planet is now peaceful and happy and we enjoy good enough relations with other planets. Parasitism, pure and simple. A functionless organ, utterly obsolete, living on the taxpayers.
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A decidedly expensive way for inferior people who otherwise would be unemployed to live at public expense for a term of years, then give themselves airs for the rest of their lives. Is that what you want to do? Not that I am afraid of what you might do; I have confidence in your basic good sense, even at your tender years. But you are troubled. I know — and this will clear it away.
Can you guess what it is? I know how you kids feel about travel, though it beats me what anyone sees in it after the first time out. But this is a good time for you to do it — by yourself; did I mention that? I guess he thought that settled it And on my own! Well, maybe it was. Instead I simply told him that my father and I seemed to have different ideas about it. Dubois never seemed to care whether he got through to us or not. He would just point at you with the stump of his left arm he never bothered with names and snap a question.
Then the argument would start.
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But on the last day he seemed to be trying to find out what we had learned. One girl told him bluntly: "My mother says that violence never settles anything. Dubois looked at her bleakly. Dubois buttered up.
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Everybody knows that Carthage was destroyed! However, I was not making fun of you personally; I was heaping scorn on an inexcusably silly idea — a practice I shall always follow. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst.
Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms. One can lead a child to knowledge but one cannot make him think. What is the moral difference, if any, between the soldier and the civilian? A soldier accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic of which he is a member, defending it, if need be, with his life.
The civilian does not. Do you believe it? Perhaps we shall meet again under happier circumstances. I simply arranged to meet him the day after his birthday and we went down to the recruiting office together. On the steps of the Federal Building we ran into Carmencita Ibanez, a classmate of ours and one of the nice things about being a member of a race with two sexes.
But I knew her pretty well, as she often came over and used our swimming pool, because it was Olympic length — sometimes with one boy, sometimes with another. Or alone, as Mother urged her to — Mother considered her "a good influence. She saw us and waited, dimpling. Today is my birthday. Happy returns! But Carmencita was like that. She never gossiped and she kept her own affairs to herself.
He was right — I know now just how right he was. Carmen was small and neat, perfect health and perfect reflexes — she could make a competitive diving routine look easy — and she was quick at mathematics. Me, I tapered off with a "C" in algebra and a "B" in business arithmetic; she took all the math our school offered and a tutored advance course on the side.
But it had never occurred to me to wonder why. Fact was, little Carmen was so ornamental that you just never thought about her being useful. She answered very seriously, "Oh, how grand! I hope. On the ground, of course.
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Are you going to be a pilot, too? I hope they stick you out on Pluto and let you freeze. A fleet sergeant sat at a desk there, in dress uniform, gaudy as a circus. But his right arm was off so short that his tunic had been tailored without any sleeve at all Carl said, "Good morning. I want to join up. He ignored us. He managed to bow while sitting down and said, "Good morning, young lady. What can I do for you? Well, see Miss Rojas. Labor battalions? I understand the chances are pretty good.
Look, boys, have you any idea why they have me out here in front? Carl said, "Why? Got any idea what it takes to make a soldier? Maybe so, for cannon fodder. Possibly that was all that Julius Caesar required. Take that young lady who was here — wants to be a pilot. Maybe she will. But if she misses, she may wind up in Antarctica, her pretty eyes red from never seeing anything but artificial light and her knuckles callused from hard, dirty work. But he was talking. Look at this. Take a look at me — this is what you may buy Not a romantic adventure.
The placement officer pays attention to your choice, too. Having reluctantly conceded that there is a need for your choice — probably at the bottom of the Pacific — he then tests you for innate ability and preparation. About once in twenty times he is forced to admit that everything matches and you get the job But the other nineteen times he turns you down and decides that you are just what they have been needing to field-test survival equipment on Titan. Have to have real field tests, though — laboratories just never get all the answers.
And how about you, bub?
Got your birth certificates with you? I asked one of the doctors what percentage of the victims flunked the physical. He looked startled. I mean, Excuse me, Doctor? But if you came in here in a wheel chair and blind in both eyes and were silly enough to insist on enrolling, they would find something silly enough to match. Counting the fuzz on a caterpillar by touch, maybe. The only way you can fail is by having the psychiatrists decide that you are not able to understand the oath.
Doctor, were you already a doctor when you joined up? Or did they decide you ought to be a doctor and send you to school?