(Versión en castellano)
Unfortunately, in 1987 I had to do compulsory military service (in my country, Argentina, it wasn't abolished until 1994.) A couple of days before Christmas I was on duty at the president's house (Alfonsín at that time) along with three other soldiers, a non-commissioned officer and an officer. We had to remain seated in a room as reinforcement in case of emergency(!?).
In the calm of the night the young officer asked everyone, one by one, the typical question: “What will you do if you win the Christmas lottery?”
At that time, my eighteen-year-old colleagues and I innocencently thought we were just losing fourteen months of our lives. Today, with more than half a lifetime of experience on my back, I realize it was just one among the lot of arbitrary stupid things society makes us do. Now I don't see a big difference between barracks, school, neighborhood or family. I've suffered worse abuses from teachers, neighbors, friends, relatives than from sergeants or captains. Violence is spontaneous, natural, explicit. Despotism is, the most of the times, subliminal, innocent.
And people tolerate these abuses because they don't dare to find out to what extent they really depend on all that.
With the same confidence the young version of me added one more “life of luxury” to others' wishes I know exactly what I'd answer to the officer if I could go back to that instant of my life: "I'm going to buy a little house in a quiet place, far away of all cities, and refrain from splurging."
©2007 - Walter Alejandro Iglesias