Thursday, October 7, 2010

Youth unprepared for Marine Corps

I really feel like an old man when I start thinking about how things were when I was 18 or 19 years old. My wife has, for a couple years now, been pointing out grey hairs, and until recently, I never noticed them. I now try to joke about them and call them an indication of wisdom …

What got me to start thinking back about 15 years was a conversation I had with a MCMAP instructor whereby we seemed to agree the vast majority of young Marines have never been in a fight. Instead, they're brought up with the "zero tolerance" policy of absolutely positively never fighting; when confronted by someone who means to do you physical harm, you either give them what they want or cower in fear. Remember, there are some people who actually advocate would-be victims of rape shouldn’t fight back, and I'm sure these same people advocate never defending yourself when confronted by someone who means to do you harm.

So these "social nonconfrontationists" (that's my phrase since "social pacifist" is already taken) I'm sure also advocate the complete abolition of personally owned pots, pans, forks, knives, toasters, screwdrivers, hammers, machetes, firearms, and any other tool that could be used by one person to do harm to another.

These same "social nonconfrontationists" seem to believe the military does more harm than good, that it should be a peace corps of sorts frolicking into foreign lands just to spread good will and cheer and love.

So what does all this have to do with anything? Well, what I'm getting at is simply that today's young men and women - who I see as victims of these so-called "social nonconfrontationists" - have been turned into “sheep” and are not very well prepared for life in the Marine Corps.

(An aside is in order here - my usage here of the word “sheep” refers to the now-famous account by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman in his book On Combat. In short, the “sheep” are the average citizens who rely on others for their protection; then there are the “wolves” who prey upon the sheep without mercy. Finally, there are the “sheepdogs” who protect the flock from the wolves, and it is in this group I classify myself and most other Marines.)

Since 1775, the Marine Corps has been known as an elite fighting force, and most of us firmly believe America needs her Corps of Marines to be the ass-kicking "rough men ready to do violence on [her] behalf" as George Orwell put it.

I'm just afraid it's taking more and more to get today's youth up to that elite level than it did in times past. If we look to the first half of last century, boys often hunted on their way in to school and stored their trusty .22 rimfire or shotgun at school while they did the day's learning, not giving the firearm a second thought. Today, that act would get them arrested or possibly killed no matter what their actual intent. At the end of their day, boys of years past went home, often hunting along the way, to do their chores and homework. They didn't "veg out" in front of the TV, computer or video game console. They learned responsibility at an early age; they were given a set of expectations and held to them.

Parents need to stop coddling their children and let them get a little dirty sometimes.

I'm not saying we should all turn our kids into bullies or create an Underage UFC with kindergartners … but at the same time, there absolutely positively IS a time and a place for physical violence, and it's incumbent upon all of us to teach our children the moral compass required to discern when it's appropriate and when it's not.

In closing, I’d like to quote Grossman: “If you have no capacity for violence, then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath--a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path.”


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  2. I agree with that last paragraph. My dad told me when I was young lad that, if I was to ever get in a fight at school and got suspended, he would find out if I was the one who started the fight. He told me that if I was the one who started it, then he'd deal with me a lot harsher than the school would have. But, he told me if I was either defending myself or someone else in need, then he'd take me out for some ice cream. What a great man! We need a lot more sheepdogs in this world.


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