Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Weblink To Ponder And Implement

There’s always a line forming to the left to criticize the military. We’re all armchair generals. This could have been done better, that could have been managed better, and the whole shebang could be implemented better.

I’m not a general. I’m not a strategist. Aw, heckk, I can’t even manage my own desk, not to mention three kids. And I’m not sure exactly when I last changed my oil and am now afraid to look, and worse yet, I’ll forget to check tomorrow.

But no matter what chaos is going on in my life, no matter how much I botch things up, I try hard to live the “treat other people the way you want to be treated” mandate. And the other one, which adjures us to respect the dignity of all human beings.

But what if other people make it hard for us to do that, because they don't play by the same rules? Then it's pretty hard to stick to your high moral ground. I would imagine the good folks at the top of institutions and organizations, being human too, would struggle with it.

So it was a kind of shock and pleasure to read this on the United States Marine Corps website, talking about the beginning of the work to support the elections:,strong,fast%E2%80%99.aspx

The quote that caught me from the link was “the Marines' presence restricts enemy groups’ freedom of movement and helps restore peace and prosperity to the local populace.”

I like that.

It’s not badass. Badass can be way fun, as I well know, but this is way deeper and more lasting and important.

Peace and prosperity: it’s what we wish for those we love.

Sometimes folks in the local populace doesn’t even appreciate what our men and women are doing. But the Marines and other service members do the very best they can, every day, anyway.

And sometimes folks in the local populace are shooting at them, or trying to blow them up.

The minds at the top of the USMC know the cost to families who lose someone they love. They know the frustration and fury of an IED explosion taking the life of a soldier. They know what disfigurement and dismemberment mean to able young human beings.

And yet, those minds at the top are looking, not to “maintain order” or to “subdue the resistance”. No; it’s a far gentler, far deeper goal: to restore peace and prosperity.

That’s generous.

War presses on people from the top, and from the bottom.

From the bottom is the place where bullets fly. It’s the 'today' of war. It is the sad result of a complete inability of two sides to talk to one another successfully or resolve differences.

From the top is where the ideas are put in motion. It’s the 'tomorrow' of the world. It sets the tone for the 'today' of war.

From the top comes the guidance for our soldiers:

• Use your head, use logic, use restraint
• Don’t feel about what you do. Just do it, and do it right

Human beings who serve as soldiers see terrible things. They see things that can make them sad the rest of their lives. And they find meaning in small goodnesses.

When the Taliban destroys a human life, whether a friend or a local child or a member of their big team,

They feel angry. Really angry.
They feel hate and desire for revenge.

Yet they are expected each day to set themselves back to neutral and get to work.
To “help restore peace and prosperity to the local populace.”

Please join me in feeling admiration and respect for all the service members who walk this difficult line each day, and do it with grace, dignity, and humor.

Could you and I practice such good intentions and restraint under such pressure? Will we?

I said at the beginning of this blog that my intentions are to use this experience of our son's deployment to work hard on myself for eight months to become a better human being.

Class is in session.

Thanks for checking in,

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