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The McKelvy House Scholars invite the campus to join a dinner discussion about “The Sega Soldier: Exploring Rationale Behind Military Duty” on Sunday evening.

A vegan dinner begins at 6 p.m. at McKelvy House, 200 High Street; no reservations are required. Marquis Scholar Michael Werner ’07 (Neenah, Wis.), a biology and geology double major, will lead the discussion at 6:30 p.m.

“As a former Army ROTC cadet, I want to examine under a moral lens the unconformity that exists between what we ask of civilians and what we ask of soldiers. More importantly, I want to explore what individual expectations we have of ourselves as civilized beings and how those may be compromised by being trained in the military,” he says. “I’d prefer that the discussion focus on the individual’s justification for war and not the nation’s. I will be playing devil’s advocate; hopefully striking a chord in those loose nerves fretting our moral skeleton.”

A CNN article about Marine Lt. Gen. James Mattis’ comment that “It’s fun to shoot some people” is recommended as background.

The following questions may be considered during the discussion:

  • Soldiers kill, but do they murder?
  • During anti-Vietnam protests, activists spat on returning soldiers. What has changed that makes this act seem so vile to the current anti-war movement?
  • After all, unlike Vietnam, enlistment in today’s military is completely voluntary.
    Soldiers are doing their job. How do we judge people who volunteer to kill other human beings?
  • Upon conscription, do soldiers willingly give up their status as rational agents?
  • Do they retain any moral character if they act in contradiction to what they deem ethical?
  • Why is the death of an Iraqi any less serious than the death of an American?
  • Do we really live in the Sega generation? Is killing another human being less serious than in the past?

Additionally, Werner would like participants to consider some quotes by Albert Einstein and Howard Zinn. The first three quotes are Einstein’s and the others are Zinn’s. Werner reminds participants to consider that “Einstein convinced Roosevelt to convene the Manhattan Project, which precipitated the Nuclear Age.”

“He who joyfully marches to music rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”

“The pioneers of a warless world are the young men [and women] who refuse military service.”

“I am not only a pacifist, but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.”

“What struck me as I began to study history, and what I wanted to convey in my own writing of history was how nationalist fervor – inculcated from childhood by pledges of allegiance, national anthems, waving flags, and militaristic rhetoric – permeated the educational systems of all countries, including our own.”

“I wondered how the foreign policies of the United States would look if we wiped out the national boundaries of the world, at least in our minds, and thought of children everywhere as our own. Then we could never drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, or napalm on Vietnam, or cluster bombs on Afghanistan or Iraq, because wars, especially in our time, are always wars against children.”

Werner is a member of Lafayette’s crew team, plays trumpet in Lafayette’s jazz and brass ensembles, and volunteers with the Alternative School Break Club, which organizes trips in the United States and abroad to conduct service projects. Last month, he traveled abroad for the Lafayette interim session course Coral Reefs and Caves: The Geology of the Bahamas.

He is one of several McKelvy residents who have participated in Lafayette’s EXCEL Scholars program, in which students collaborate with faculty on research while earning a stipend. Werner examined how tumor cells might affect the number of immune cells, or T cells, in mice. He collaborated with Robert Kurt, assistant professor of biology.

Since 1962, the McKelvy House Scholars program has brought together Lafayette students with a wide range of majors and interests to reside in a historic off-campus house and share in intellectual and social activities. Sunday dinner discussions that engage the students in debate and exchange of ideas are the hallmark of the program; several Wednesday discussions have been added this school year. Most members also contribute to the annual McKelvy Papers, written on a topic of each person’s choice. McKelvy Scholars participate in activities together such as field trips to plays, concerts, and exhibits, and sponsor events for the campus as well.

Previous discussions:

Feb. 9 – Ghosts
Feb. 2 – Death
Dec. 4 – Mind and brain
Nov. 21 – State of music industry
Nov. 14 – Consistent moral arguments
Nov. 7 – Privilege
Oct. 24 – Modern religion
Oct. 17 – Capital punishment
Oct. 3 – Revenge
Sept. 26 – Suicide
Sept. 22 – Sexual lust
Sept. 15 – Envy
Sept. 12 – Themes from A Clockwork Orange
Sept. 8 – Materialism, satisfaction, and poverty
Sept. 5 – Obesity in America

April 25 — Anti-foundationalist critique of philosophy
April 18 – Dark humor
April 11 — Cults
April 4 — Link between ethical behavior and intelligence

March 28 — Five Images of Man

March 7 — Idealized body forms

Feb. 22 — Countercultures

Feb. 15 — Eternity

Feb. 8 — Bisexuality

Dec. 7 — Anger toward computers and technology

Nov. 9 — “Unnecessary” crimes

Nov. 2 — Genetic alteration

Oct. 26 — Social construction of gender

Oct. 19 — Greed as an economic force
Sept. 28 — Value

Categorized in: Academic News