Objectivism and Military Service, continued.
Free Will—Right away they teach you, NAVY stands for Never Again Volunteer Yourself. Every branch boot camp does it their own way. The lure is often an easy-sounding assignment that turns in to a minor hell. Do not take the easy way out.
The lesson is not that you should hang back and let other people do your work. The lesson is really to not throw yourself away. Think about it before you take up a challenge. Choose your battles. When you confront the organization at large, or a superior at rank, your buddy will ask, “Is this the hill you want to die on?” You decide.
Happiness—As a contract technical writer, I have had many mornings when I was not really looking forward to going in to the office for yet another day. I never felt that way in uniform. Over the years, I have had some great private sector jobs in factory automation and information systems but I have never been happier than when I served in uniform. Happiness is not an irreducible primary. Emotions are expressions of value-judgements and judgement results from reason (or the lack of it).
For myself, happiness came from learning new tasks beyond my previous experience. Even the writing that I did—and I did a lot of it—was in new areas of knowledge with their own vocabularies and grammars. I quickly improved my physical fitness, learning that I am capable of more than I expected of myself. I always enjoyed learning “outside the box” solutions to problems and in the military I worked with people smarter than I am. I was happy to look around and see three, eight, or 20 other people just as dedicated to achievement as I am.
Honesty—A is A. Honesty means not denying the facts. General James Mattis said, “The battlefield has its own accounting system.” In the military, everything is consequential.
Independence—“With all due respect, sir, I disagree.” You still follow orders. You are free to explain your reservations. The positive expression is recommending a creative solution to an existing problem. It is as simple as telling your buddies to stop what they are doing and talk about what they want to do next because charging through the brambles is only going leave you all with scratches.
Integrity—Never compromise your values or deny your virtues.
Morality—Every choice is an answer to the question, “Right or wrong?” Objectively, no dichotomy exists between the moral and the practical. The mundane daily tasks have long term consequences. For want of a two-penny nail, the battle was lost. More complex decisions follow broader principles. In America, no soldier is required to carry out an unlawful order.
Justice—Justice is recognizing the fact that your actions always have consequences for other people. Moreover, justice is pro-active. You do not wait for others to be in harm’s way or to be in need before you act. Taking care of other people is integral to a military unit. That does not mean being a slave to the whims of others, no matter how high their rank. Justice in action is rational benevolence. (See Pride.)
For myself, as a petty officer (sergeant) working with commissioned officers, our tasks included cleaning the office and taking out the trash. Could the officers have done for themselves? Surely. However, justice is the recognition that they are tasked at a higher conceptual level. We of lower rank make it possible for them to give those assignments their fullest focus.
My first wife was a Girl Scout. She taught me to always leave a campsite better than you found it. That was how we in the TXSG relate to our hosts in the Texas Department of Public Safety when they lend us their barracks and their classrooms. It is of course how we thank the National Guard, the Red Cross, and everyone else we work with.
The more common understanding of that is the protector-guardian role of the military. The simplest analogy came from the retired Marine Corps master sergeant who taught our class in advanced leadership: There’s sheep. There’s wolves. And there’s sheepdogs. We are sheepdogs. Most people think of justice as punishment for the guilty. That is a secondary consequence of egocentric justice.
Pride --- “Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value and, like all of man’s values, it has to be earned—that of any achievements open to you, the one that makes all others possible is the creation of your own character...” -- Galt's Speech
“And, above all, it means one’s rejection of the role of a sacrificial animal, the rejection of any doctrine that preaches self-immolation as a moral virtue or duty.” – “Objectivist Ethics” in The Virtue of Selfishness.
(to be continued)
(Edited by Michael Marotta on 7/11, 1:11am)