I'm really kind of disappointed in myself for not following through on this project with better consistency. I thought that this photo-a-day goal would help me avoid those days when I just want to flip the whole world the bird and hole up in my cave like a modern day Grinch.
Not so, evidently.
I'm a thinker. I get lost in my own head sometimes and it can be really difficult to reorient on outward goals when I'm caught up in thoughts that rattle me. Last week, the gals over at Left Face pointed me in the direction of this post, written by a former marine speaking about the state of today's military and how it relates, in his opinion, to an argument for the return of the draft.
It wasn't his advocation of a draft that took me aback, however, but his observations about the social elitism for members of the military encouraged by Americans in general. One of the points that the author of the article tried to make was that members of the military should be considered no different from any other civil servant.
My problem with that is there is a risk level associated with military service that is missing from many other types of government jobs. I do believe that all types of civil service should be honored, and I do think there is an imbalance with regard to the honor military service receives as compared to, say, a postal carrier, but I think that imbalance comes from lazy citizenry - not a lack of worthiness. "Support Our Troops" has become this catch-all, subjective sound bite that really stands for, "Give them whatever they want as long as we don't have to think about it, pay for it, or put our butts on the line for it."
Although the article never really gets into the damage this mentality does when it rubs off on the military community, I see it as an insidious helplessness that infects soldiers and families. It's as though the lip service paid to adoration and hero-worship is supposed to sustain us through the very real difficulties of living with the effects of a military at war. The "I-am-Special" attitude that the author attributes to the military mentality is a superficial symptom of the diseased infrastructure and bumbling leadership we are forced to deal with.
Are there individuals who try to take advantage of this social pedestal? Of course there are - in every walk of life, every job, every social strata. But it is also true that military service requires a different level of adjustment - up to and including sacrifice - that should be supported by a different level of resource management. When that management fails to meet the basic needs of soldiers and their families, how else should we speak up for ourselves other than to say, "Hey! Remember us? We perform a specialized service and we need specialized support!" And when we are consistently put off or ignored altogether, the "I-am-Special" mentality becomes the hollow, desperate chant of people who are essentially forbidden to help themselves.
Would a draft help all this? I don't think so. I don't think picking men at random and plunking them into one of four variations of camouflage uniforms would seriously change the attitudes of the public and the policy makers toward military service members at large.
That being said, I do think that mandatory public service for each and every citizen - male and female, in every conceivable aspect of civil service - would go a very long way toward balancing the disparity between what Americans say they support and what they do support.