We need to re-capture or re-define what service means.
We are now a nation that lives in the context of entitlement and victimhood. We're entitled to everything we want when we want it, and we're victims because
1. Thanking the troops. Thank you. Thank you for your service. Thank you for protecting my freedom. Thank you for being there so I can thank you so now I can feel as if I don't have to do anything but continue to thank you and bitch about whatever group of people are bad Americans based upon what my favorite TV pundit posing as a good American tells me. Now that I've thanked you and my well-being is in your hands, all I have to worry about is whether I should switch to Verizon or wait for the iPhone 5 to come out. Thank you for keeping me safe enough to buy an iPhone.
2. Crying for the troops and their families and talking about how brave they are. Because they are the real victims. It's so sad that daddy has to go overseas and it makes me cry and I wish I could do something, but I need my iPhone and I've already thanked your daddy or mommy, so I'll just cry some more for you or maybe send you some money or some stuff so that I can feel better about the victim culture I live in because your are the real victim, having to get daddy's skull half blown off for iPhones. And freedom. Oh, and to keep those nasty turrrurrururuists from building houses of worship here in America.
DISCLAIMER - In case my poorly written attempt at sarcasm is unclear, read this. Otherwise, skip to the next paragraph: My intent here is not to belittle what anyone in our armed forces or their families go through or imply that they are undeserving of understanding, respect and sympathy. Their task is huge and unforgiving and after 20 years of active service I know very well what we are involved in and what our families go through. Rather, I believe the ubiquity of the Support Our Troops® mentality points to a certain "hollowness" of many of its practitioners.
I will not go into the causes or reasons for this as there are many, and blame lays in industry, in government, in the populace, in the military - no corner of this society is untouched.
But McChrystal's message went largely unheard. Because nobody wants to hear it. But then again, most people can't relate to the General.
So maybe someone people CAN relate to can get the message across?
There was an opportunity here. An opportunity for Brokaw and Woodward, two well-known and thinking people to make McChrystal's point as well. Both had an opportunity, but decided to link involvement to having sympathy and compassion for a small segment of the population vice the entire population thinking about how they could take ownership for this place instead of bitching at each other.
Once Oprah picks something, you know the branding is complete. Not only America's fighting men and women are no longer even remotely accessible or understandable to most other Americans, but they are finally a trademarked message that tells the rest of the country "You don't have to be invested in this place anymore. You just have to feel bad for the troops." What a bunch of fucking crap.
The whole thought of what I'm getting at is pretty idealistic. It'd take leadership in places where we don't currently have the right kind of leadership. Just thinking that way probably makes me part of the problem. So I'm going to do something about it - tomorrow, I am going snowboarding.
I may get one of these.