16 November 2007

Ben Stein and "The Troops"

Ben Stein is good people. He's a hilarious actor and (not that I'm an expert) but knows what the fuck he's talking about when it comes to money matters. He had a pretty supportive bit about "the troops" which you can check out here. I was sent another article from Ben Stein talking about why more people should join the military.

"I hear a lot of bragging from my pals about how their daughter got into Brown or their son is being courted by Goldman Sachs or their grandchild just got into a fancy prep school. What I never hear is bragging from parents who say, "My son just got into the Army Special Forces and is risking his life to keep your son and you alive." I never hear parents saying that their kids got into the 82nd Airborne and are now fighting in Afghanistan to give people there a decent life and keep Al-Qaeda tied down so they don't come here to attack us. Now, you may say, "All well and good, and it's great that these military families are so modest. But what does this have to do with me?" It has everything to do with you, my friend."

I totally agree with him on this one. Ever since Vietnam, the military ranks have been filled with what the elite class would consider a "subclass" or "expendable" group of people. It seems the folks of power in finance, media, and politics view us at best as "boorish" and at worst as sacrifices for whatever administration is in power. I think it has to do with the naïve ideology of the previous generation and the overall celebration of self-centeredness found in our society. It's not a pleasant thing to think about, and I'm growing incredibly weary of the people who will be in charge having spent the majority of their younger years working to get a nice BMW and have an "extreme" sporting outing jumping out of planes or some shit. As a matter of fact, the more I think about it, I am terrified. The military may be thankless and I have had plenty of days in my 5 years experience where I wanted to take a cheesegrater to my face, but at least you get an understanding for working hard and the effect of foreign policy decisions. And with less than 1% of the population in the military, I'm afraid many Americans don't get it.

"But I also get letters aplenty from men and women in the military. They love their jobs. They do exciting work. Dangerous, of course, but exciting. They have immense responsibilities. They get challenged on a scale they would never have dreamed conceivable. They bring more out of themselves than they knew they had."

Well I wouldn't exactly agree with that statement about "exciting work". The military and war in general has been best defined to me as "Days and days of boredom followed by sheer moments of terror". I'm not advocating that everyone be in the military, it is not fun times (although Thailand was cool), it is service. But some things are more important than where you go to college and that sweet job in New York City.