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way too thoughtful for a saturday

Ahhh the military.
Having grown up in a military town where you have Army, Navy, Marine, Coast Guard, and Airforce all in one tiny place, the shit that the military instills in people becomes far too evident to ignore. I was thinking about this the other day when talking to a friend about his stint in the Navy years and years ago. He was stationed in Norfolk before they cleaned up the strip outside of gate 1 so it was all strip clubs and bars for several miles with a few 24 hour diners. Now it's a "family friendly" place becuase the Navy has been trying desperately to change its image for the last 15 years or so.

My father was in the military long enough to see the change from blanket parties to counselling sessions, from do or die to family leave act. I think by the time he retired he was vaguely baffled by the changes in the thing he identified with the most. Once a chief, always a chief.
He's seriously considering retiring. He can get his full retirement benefit from civil service now at age 62 instead of having to wait to 65, but he'd just end up getting another job immediately. Possibly with one of the vendors who he buys materials from for the Environmental Unit. They've had a standing offer extended toward him for about 10 years now. But he claims he doesn't want to travel. The guy who thought nothing of driving 8 hours from Norfolk to Bethlehem now thinks that a few hours drive longer than his typical morning commute is just too much hassle.

Age changes people a lot. You'd like to think that you're going to be the same person at 35 as you are at 25, but it just doesn't work that way, especially when at both those ages you're still in the same orders taken and given position and all of a sudden at 35 you CAN'T just beat the shit out of some deck crew guy who isn't listening to you, unless you're actually *looking* to get busted down, whereas at 25 you knew that if the Bos'n said jump and you didn't say 'how high' you'd get cracked quicker than you could blink.
No, in today's military that means you aren't being sensitive. That means you get busted down. Way to instill the rules, encourage the in-for-life mentality and then change all the rules.

The military has nothing to do with independent thought. It doesn't encourage it or teach it. It doesn't know how. You go into the military to become what it needs, whatever cog is missing. If you are good at being just what everyone expects and wants, then you do well. Which means that most people would do well in the military. If MTV and Clear Channel has taught us nothing else it's that people want desperately to be like everyone else, especially if it means they get to be unique. If you have a mind of your own, you're a liability and you aren't going to get very far. And why would you want to really?
The pro-military mindset has always baffled me. Not because of the violence or the seperation. Not becuase of imminent death (because, keep in mind, over half of the people who enlist end up spending more time sitting behind a desk than they do in the field. Bootcamp is the most combat they ever see), but because of the extreme willingness and *desire* even to be part of a machine instead of a machine of your own.

I guess it's comfort? I can see how comfort could be a factor. Big Brother's Big Umbrella does cast a lot of shade and shelter. But I've never known a "military person" who would admit to that or claim that it was anything other than doing their duty, defending their country, being in control, being honorable, etc. So I guess that's just part of the brainwashing.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
midnightglobe
Sep. 23rd, 2004 11:21 pm (UTC)
awesome
+memory

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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