Today, I would like to share an experience that is common amongst Veterans … that uncomfortable feeling we get when we see young – military aged – adults talk about changing the world and fighting the injustices they are experiencing on college campuses or on “main street” USA.
We Have Seen the “Real World” – As Veterans, upon hearing this our minds flash first to young Americans who stood up and took an oath that had to be backed up with real action that placed their young lives in real danger. We can’t force out the images of places we have been where atrocities, injustices and threats to freedom were so real that almost all of America’s problems pale in comparison.
There is No God Given Right to Change the World – This is not to say that as a people we should not continue to strive for a more perfect society. But, it seems that many young adults believe it is their god given right to change the world, and to them, modest or ordinary change is just not big or good enough. The truth is that real change is very hard and comes in very small and incremental steps. Those who go for the “hail Mary” are usually passed by those who quietly focus on making their block to get the next yard. From the Veterans’ Perspective, we know all too well the price paid by those making the blocks.
No Factual Basis & No Proportionality – That perceived right to change the world apparently also entitles some to disregard the means or methods – simply yell, scream and demand action. Furthermore, facts and proportionality appear to have no relevance to their cause. One cannot live in the real world and have an expectation to not be offended. Of course, that does not justify or condone racist conduct and nobody should ever be threatened with violence. It just means that those instances are dealt with based on the facts and with a sense of proportionality. To do otherwise violates the very principles that appear to be the basis of allegations of “privilege.”
No Real Debate – So, it seems that the “quality” of the debate and discussion on these issues has only diminished even though the availability of information has never been greater. But that is really no surprise when you consider how an entire generation is growing up on Facebook and have been flooded with “news” that is filled with nonsensical, factually incorrect and intellectually shallow statements from both ends of the “political” spectrum.
What About “Student” Privilege? – From the Veterans’ Perspective, most of the people we served with did not have the opportunity, or dare we say “privilege,” to attend Yale. Frankly, many did not even have the opportunity to attend college as a full time student. To use a military phrase, we are all “green.” So, the accusation that the white people automatically have some sort of privilege and black people are automatically entitled to some benefit is insulting to everything our Flag stands for.
Privilege of Being American – Ask any Combat Veteran and they will say it — the truth is we ALL are privileged. To try and find degrees of separation between the amounts of privilege that one “group” has over another “group” is as senseless and impossible as trying to determine the guilty from the innocent on the scale of morality. The person screaming and yelling the loudest may be the biggest racist in the crowd regardless of their race – but unless and until there has been a crime committed our Nation stands for the principal that he or she is free to be a racist.
Bottom Line – Not Courageous Behavior – It appears that many have been led to believe, either from their parents or their teachers or both, that to lead and participate in social protest is not just acceptable but it is courageous. From the Veterans’ Perspective, courageous conduct must come in the face of real accountability and consequences. Just as there is no justice if there is no connection to facts and proportionality, there cannot be courage if there is no risk of harm or adverse consequences.