The National:

Good evening! This week's edition of the In Common newsletter comes from Nicola Biggerstaff, policy officer at Common Weal. To receive the newsletter direct to your inbox every week click here.

MY great-great grandfather, Private John Biggerstaff, was killed in October 1914 by a bullet to the back during the first battle of Ypres. His service and sacrifice have been a point of pride through the generations of my dad’s family, including myself.

The difference with me, however, is that my respect for him comes from his choice to do that. He was among the first to volunteer, before conscription was considered necessary.

On my mother’s side, my grandfather completed his National Service in the 1950s, and he still remembers it fondly for the discipline and direction it gave him. All he wants is for the ill-disciplined, directionless young people of today to have the same opportunity.

The National: British soldiers along the River SommeBritish soldiers along the River Somme

Which was probably why he was disappointed to hear me say that I’d first go to jail before spending a single day in conscripted service, making me one of the more than a third of 18 to 40-year-olds in the UK who would also refuse.

The battle over what to do with those pesky youngsters rages on, the latest round insisting that we should be gearing up for war on the whims of a desperate, dying Tory government who’ll do or say anything for a relevant soundbite.

READ MORE: Conscription would lead to increased scrutiny of UK's military actions

They forget that each generation brings something different to the table, and this one brings a new zest for freedom and passion for change that doesn’t fit with what they want from us. That’s not unusual for any generation gap, ever. But things have changed more drastically than any of us could have predicted.

Our generation grew up in an era of destructive wars waged by the West, none of them for just causes. Not that some of us aren’t willing to fight for a better world, we just won’t fight under these circumstances. They told us ground troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and airstrikes in Syria and Yemen, were necessary for our national security. We simply don’t believe you, and we don’t believe in you anymore.

The National: BBC News on the day the Iraq war began

We are becoming more aware of the brutality of the war machine, churning out death and trauma with every turn of the wheel. The internet and social media have exposed us to realities on the ground that most of us simply wouldn’t choose to put ourselves through. We maintain friendships, relationships and employment all through an interconnected web that transcends borders. We see the humanity on the other side and can think critically for ourselves.

That is a terrifying thought for the older generations now in charge of putting boots on the ground. The ones who earned their stripes before any of this was possible, before Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg (below) and Twitter's Jack Dorsey were even a glint in their fathers’ eyes. Their solution? Force us to do it anyway, apparently.

The National: Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg

But conscription is a violation of bodily autonomy that this generation simply will not tolerate. We were always told growing up that our parents, grandparents, great and great-great grandparents all made sacrifices in their early years so that we could live the lives they could only dream of, that we would never have to suffer like they did.

So why are they now telling us that we just have to enlist, to be sent to any corner of the world they choose and suffer indescribable horrors that they can’t specify until we encounter it, all in the name of the place we were born? What happened to the promise of peace? When is enough?

The prospect of war is not something to be joked about, or tossed around for the sake of making the next talking point that distracts us from national failures. We know better now, and when our time comes, we will govern better, too. We want to leave the brutality of warfare in the past, where it belongs, even if the so-called grown-ups don’t.

After more than a decade of cruel austerity, several economic crises and even our very own pandemic, we’re now left asking ourselves: what has our country really done for us? We have little, if any, reason to take pride in this place anymore.

I guarantee no matter who the Tories decide to pick a fight with next, I’ll have more in common with the person at the end of the gun they’re telling me to shoot than either of us have in common with the governments that sent us there. If they want a war, they should fight it themselves. The young people of this country, and around the world, will no longer do it for them.

If all that makes me sound like just another entitled, ungrateful, immature brat, then so be it. We didn’t create these conditions, we shouldn’t have to bear the consequences.

In the famous words of my high school history teacher, away an’ jump in the Clyde.