By Mafe Mendoza Ramírez (FIGRI)
Military service has been, historically, a requirement for men of legal age. It is a service that men give to the state, being soldiers during a certain period of time. In most of the world’s countries, such as the United States or France, it is voluntary, but in other countries like Austria, it is obligatory. In Colombia it is obligatory too, from the moment a man reaches legal age: 18 years old. However, there are many ways to avoid doing it: paying, proving you are studying, graduating from a military school, etc. We should recognise though that the 21st century is not a time of war anymore; what it is, is a time of selfishness. That is why military service should be replaced by social service and be obligatory for everyone: both men and women.
First of all, it is important to recognise that the Colombian internal conflict is greatly reduced, because of the successful agreement with the FARC and the future one with ELN (the two most important guerrilla groups in the country). As a result, the amount of soldiers we need is less now, while the amount of volunteers we need for reintegration and for the reparation of victims is much more. We do not need people for war anymore: we need to help our bleeding country to heal.
With this in mind, it is time to re-educate our nation to be more peaceful and encompassing, and less violent. When we force men to be soldiers, we promote a strict, inflexible and rough lifestyle, and we teach them to be macho and insensitive. Besides, sending just men to the war gives the social message that women are weaker and not able to do these public services. Not teaching people this sort of thing is a good way to get people out of the culture of hate and get them into a culture of awareness. Social service makes people more sensitive and merciful, which is what we need right now.
In conclusion, military service is obsolete. It is not an option anymore for our country, and instead, we need a social service, which is equal for both men and women, and productive for our nation in this time of peace. Social service means helping needy people, giving women equality, and advancing to a new Colombia.