Service in the Face of Isolation
I received a manifesto about 6 months ago, right when the war in Iraq was becomming imminent. It was by an airforce pilot stationed in Afghanistan. The letter made me sad in a lot of ways.
The tone of the letter was cynicism. Cynicism towards the people he was protecting, towards the people he was meant to serve. It seemed as though he had lost his identity with Americans. He actually classified himseld in a different category than those who were back in his home country. He didn't feel the need to explain why he was doing what he was doing, or to question the actions he was carrying out. This is the way of the military and I understand that for them to be effective they need to be highly mechanical and drilled to a purpose. But, the unsettling tone that coencided with his apparent loss of identification with non-serving Americans struck a chord in me that has yet to cease resonation.
Keith and I went to the movies the day after July 4th. We saw two rows of service men in front of us. Keith lowered himself down and wished them a happy 4th of July. Two of the men turned in disgust and the rest looked straight forward. Keith's extension of merriment and small gratitude was sincere and intended only for their ears. It was an attempt to spread good will amongst the people that serve the country where we live. It perplexed and disturbed us both that it was met with such obvious disdain and indifference.
This interaction combined with the letter caused me to start really thinking about my fear of the military. If they can no longer identify with me and I can no longer identify with them, then what is to stop them from turning against me, and more importanlty the millions of people like me.
The parades have stopped, the fan fare for service men has ceased. This may be due to the segregation found in today's military. Military life is now chosen as a career or a way of life which is much different from the 2 world wars, the vietnam war and the civil war where most males of suitable fightable age were called or conducted to serve. The flight of the innocent in these battles brought the innocence out of us. Now, we see a large black line drawn between military and non-military. A different way of speaking, acting, and interacting. A grey cloud that makes them dangerously enigmatic. They make a choice to serve in hopes of a better life as opposed to sacrificing a better life with the obligation to serve. Some may still hold this reguard of sacrifice high, but I get the feeling that with power and wealth gap becomming more evident, more people choose to serve knowing it may be the steadiest thing in their life.
This point of choice is important. They believe more. They want what they now participate in to work and become meaningful. What you have then have is a highly motivated machine.
To develop a segregated elite machine that can no longer identify with some of it's main principles or peoples makes them feared by me. It makes them a rogue unstoppable aliance controlled by an elite few who may no longer hold my interests in any reguard. This bothers me.
This makes me wonder about the future state of our nation. It also brings about some thoughts of joining the military simply to be on the winning team. The question is, who would I consider the losing team. Do I believe it's the Iraqie elite guard or Afghanistan guerillas? No, when I think of future enemies to the state, I look inward at our own population. You can feel the extremists becomming more extreme and with that extremity comes extreme precautions and measures sold to us as if it were our daily bread. With most future attacks and cells expected to be funded or found within our own walls, it is only a matter of time before the military becomes a much larger presence in our daily lives.
One by one I can see our civil liberties and freedoms disappear and evaporate. I do not blame the men and women who are paid to serve our country for this legislation. What I am scared of is there inability to react to such things as if it does not also effect them. When I watch propoganda army television I see that the military is much like us in everyway other than that they are us. They are always told that they are held to a higher level of conduct and are made to feel as though they were outsiders with larger benefits. This can cause a strange mindset, a mindset of unidentifiable hostility towards anything not military. This is what I feel when I encounter military personnel and it freightens me.