Some thoughts from the field

So, having just completed a weekend in the field with my unit, a few things have come to mind. As such, there are a few things I’d like to share, including my thoughts on a few issues.

First off, I’ll begin with a confession. In case there are a few of you who might not have guessed it, I’m a man. I tried to keep my gender hidden, due to security reasons, but my wife recently pointed out that I write like a man, so what’s the sense in pretending?

Ta-dah! I’m 100% male…I mean, cisgendered, or whatever term they’re applying these days. It changes so fast, I really don’t bother with keeping up. I’m a straight, Evangelical Christian man, who has chosen to speak up. I’m sure that’s bound to piss a few people off, and I don’t care.

Well, now that we have all of that settled, let’s get on with the show. As I mentioned, I’ve just completed a weekend in the field with my unit. There’s something very special about sleeping on the ground, when you’re knocking on the door to 40.

In general, you wake up hurting in places you didn’t know you had. Then there’s the whole thing where fall has been unseasonably warm, which means you still have bugs to contend with. It’s an odd feeling to bat away mosquitoes, while shivering from the cold, and trying to sleep.

To top it all off, I’m doing all of this while injured. Friday morning, I managed to injure my right Achilles tendon while running the 2 mile portion of the Army Physical Fitness Test. Getting around has been a bit of a challenge this weekend.

Yet, there I was, participating in Squad-level tactical maneuvers with my Platoon. I was out there, hobbling my old, injured ass all over the countryside doing what Medics do; taking care of Soldiers.

By now, I’m sure a few questions have popped into people’s minds. Questions about the point to this post and whatnot. Well, the point relates to a conversation I had with one of my fellow Medics this morning, in which we were discussing social justice.

At 39 years old, it’s safe to say I’m not a millennial. Meanwhile, he’s 25, so he definitely qualifies as one. I’m Latino, he’s white. I’m an Evangelical “Bible thumper”. He’s rather ambivalent about the topic.

Aside from our service, what we both have in common is that we’re both selectively social (read anti-social), quiet and politically very conservative. Of course, our service is the key factor in our mutual conservatism, though there’s more to it for me.

The whole thing begins with him telling me about his adventures in college, including the fact that his conservatism frequently places him at odds with his classmates. What followed was a conversation about social justice warriors, and the problems we often encounter when dealing with them.

In the interests of transparency, I’m both for and against same-sex marriage (more on that later), I believe that one’s biology should be the deciding factor in which bathrooms they use, I firmly oppose virtually all forms of gun control, I support the legalization of marijuana though I refuse to touch the stuff and I believe that our government has not only become too big for its britches, but that it has long since shot right through every single Constitutional constraint that was meant to prevent the bloated, intrusive monstrosity we currently enjoy. For the most part, he agrees with me.

Which is where we find ourselves this morning. Sitting on the grass, eating something that resembled a breakfast burrito (the jury’s still out on that) and discussing his classmates and their apparent sense of entitlement.

We discussed how his literature professor asked the class if they thought the American dream still exists. He said that he and one other classmate answered in the negative, while the rest of the class was of the opinion that the American dream was something they’re entitled to. I wasted no time in letting him know that both positions are wrong.

Here’s the truth from someone whose ego and self-esteem were not a consideration growing up. First, the American dream absolutely does exist. Second, no one owes it to anyone else. It must be earned. Third, if you want to live the American dream, you’ll have to work for it. I don’t just mean some low-paying, entry-level job either. Those jobs are your starting point on the way to those dreams.

Have you ever wondered why so many sports cars in this country are driven by people in their 50’s and 60’s? Because they started working towards owning that car when they were in their teens. Many of them worked their way through college, suffering through long, sleepless nights, in order to earn it.

They worked multiple jobs, suffered numerous setbacks, hit the reset button on their lives repeatedly and did all they had to do in order to have that fire-engine red and chrome beauty in their garage. That’s the American dream, working hard to have the nice things that people want. No one gave it to them, they didn’t steal it, they earned every bit of it. It’s that pride and sense of accomplishment that boosts someone’s self-esteem, not being coddled and protected.

This is one of the principles our country was founded upon. In the Declaration of Independence, it was highlighted. We’re entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The key word is the PURSUIT. We’re entitled to the pursuit of happiness, not happiness itself. Yet, we’ve somehow suffered a disconnect as a society, and forgotten what it means to pursue happiness.

The American dream isn’t a physically tangible thing. It’s an idea. One in which a person can choose to chase down what makes them happy or not. It isn’t an entitlement, it’s a goal.

As our conversation continued, I was reminded of a theory I’ve been considering. My theory is that our society is experiencing the issues it has, because it has been overrun by the end result of the self-esteem movement. What’s more, people who were predicting this result decades ago are now looking more frightened than vindicated and I know why.

When I was a child, I was taught that the way to deal with a bully was to stand up to them. As the conventional wisdom went, “Bullies are nothing more than insecure cowards. If you stand up to them, they will run away.” For the most part it worked.

As a child, I was frequently bullied for being smaller, thinner and lighter-skinned than all the other kids. When I began sticking up for myself, they began to take interest in other things. Granted, it wasn’t 100% effective, but I promise it’s a lot more effective than closing your eyes and pretending you aren’t being victimized.

Somewhere about my time in Middle School, there was a marked change in conventional wisdom. Suddenly, if a kid fights back against a bully, they’re treated the same as the bully (i.e. three days of out of school suspension). In other words, at that time standing up for one’s self became more trouble than it was worth. Why bother, if all you’re going to get is suspended?

A few years back, one of my stepsons got into a fight. He was attacked by another kid for saying something he didn’t like. The mess that followed wasn’t just stupid, it was unnecessary.

For one, the juvenile court became involved when their school reported the fight, which had occurred after-hours and on a different campus.

In the end, my stepson was placed on probation for “mutual fighting”, in spite of the fact that there’s video showing he not only tried to back out of the fight, but that the other kid took the first swing. At the end of the initial meeting, the probation officer finished by stating, “If you think you have a right to defend yourself, then you’re wrong.” Imagine my shock and outrage upon hearing that.

This is a small illustration of what I’m referring to. We presently have at least one generation brought up in the ways of the participation trophy and punishment for self-defense. These kids have been prevented from learning what they need to emotionally survive as adults.

They’re brought up protected from things like adversity, competition, failure and anything that would build up genuine self-esteem in them. In short, they’re taught that they are precious little snowflakes who can do no wrong.

When you have entire segments of the population brought up in such a glass bubble, things get very interesting. All these kid’s parents failed to prepare them. Their schools failed to prepare them. Our entire society failed to prepare them.

Now, the problem has come home to roost. While they’re in college, one would think they’d be given enough of a dose of reality to grow up, but not so much. Now, we have professors who want to indoctrinate them in the wonders of atheism, socialism, communism and Islam. It’s no wonder these kids keep going sideways.

They’re undereducated, untrained, ill-equipped and intentionally ignorant. They embody the sentiment behind the statement, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”, in that they’ve fallen and hard.

The truly scary part is that they will one day take the lead, God help us all. These are people who have expressed the belief that facts must always be trumped by emotions. They believe they’re free to disregard all facts that somehow make them uncomfortable.

Yesterday, I had the joy of watching a video out of South Africa, in which a young, college aged girl was arguing for the banning of all science, because it’s “colonial”, or some damned thing like that. Her argument was as impassioned as it was stupid.

Folks, I’m gonna be real for a moment. These are relatively minor examples of a much larger problem, and I’m here to sound the alarm. Not because I believe it can necessarily be fixed, but because it’s my moral and scriptural obligation to speak up. It’s up to all y’all to decide what, if anything, you’re going to do with it.

As such, I’ll be sounding the alarm a lot. My blog isn’t just for witty commentary and hard-hitting exhortations to get out and vote. It’s also meant to open people’s hearts and minds, to bring them to a point where maybe they’d be interested in hearing the Word. If not, oh well.20161021_181843



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