This article caught my eye in the Times today: http://www.nytimes.com/ref/
It was written back in 1991, 18 years ago if you can believe (I certainly am a little incredulous). In 18 years, almost nothing has changed in America. Through three presidents, we're almost in exactly the same mess. Now certainly, the world is always changing slightly, but essentially we're in the very same mess now that we were 18 years ago. We're in a recession, we've got folks stuck in Iraq, and America is more or less lost in the sauce.
Right there in the last few months of the presidential campaign last year, there seemed to be the kind of activism, the desire for a better world, the understanding that a common effort could result in common good coming from both side of the political spectrum. People started playing those old songs form the 60's again, started playing them un-ironically. For a moment there were people marching the in the street, the fortunate sons were out in mass, and the times, they were a'changing. Then, a year later, we're really in pretty much the same place we were a year ago. We're still struggling with that same basic moral questions, not even about what's right, but rather, "Is it ok to say something's wrong, or is it un-American to hope for a better world? Is it un-American to be afraid of moving? Can right be done under the sun?"
Obama's acting 99% exactly like Bush. The election didn't mean anything, really (except maybe it kept things from getting worse, maybe. And maybe it changed what could be done in the future). So, the kind of frustration the writer of that article feels, I get that.
But I love this country, as screwy as it can be. It's full of people, and Christ is working on them day by day, and maybe that means something too.
But you know what hope looks like? http://www.nytimes.com/2009/
Whatever else you can say about that guy, he's not giving up, and he doesn't care he's doing it alone. There's a guy I'd like to talk to.
Well Dear Reader, I've decided something: I actually prefer the chaplain in my unit, that venomous Evangelical, to the other sort of the chaplain I've seen, the weak willed and lukewarm, Spiritual Care Plan who recite nothings. Sure, my chaplain may be a devil who hates people for their sexuality and gender, but at least he means it. At least he isn't worshiping his job.
Well Dear Reader, I have got to tell you my theory on NCOs. NCOs are non-commissioned officers. Basically, we're talking about corporals and every species of sergeant. Now, there are many good NCOs out there. One of my daily hopes is that you are reading the blog of one, even though there are many places where I could do better serving the folks who work for me. It's a trite thing for commanders who treat their units like crap to say, but NCOs really do run the Army at a very basic level. But friends, sadly there is many a sergeant out there who could rightly be called a "bafoon."
There is one such sergeant in my unit who has been hanging around the armory for years. He's stayed on through an ever moving stream of commanders, first sergeants, sergeant majors, everyone. This is a person who has happily maintained his rank of sergeant, E-5 and shown no ambition of ever advancing further. I once asked a friend of mine who has been in the S1, a former beurocrat if you will, how long it's been since this sergeant put in a promotion packet. My friend, who's been with
the unit more than a decade, gave me a blank look and said, "never, as far as I know."
This sergeant, let's call him Manny, nevertheless has the single most concern for appearances of anyone I have ever met. He is always pointing out to people how things would fall apart without him. Manny's always reminding his soldiers of, what he assumes, is their absolute incompetence in his abscense.
Despite his belief that not a one of his soldiers have the brains to shave unless he instructs them to each morning, SGT Manny regularly fails to remember all the members of his squad by name. Hilariously, he often believes that soldiers from other parts of the unit are in his squad. In fact, he once complained to out his first sergeant that a certain PFC was never showing up for formations. A PFC who, it turns out, wasn't even in the same company.
However, SGT Manny's most delightful trait reveals itself after any formation where information is put out. After these formations, he gathers his soldiers around him and puts the information out again. Now, don't misunderstand me, plenty of responsible NCOs do this sort of thing. Saying it twice is a good way of making sure people hear it. However, what sets SGT Manny apart is how he gets the information wrong. Instead of repeating the actual information, he angrily and forcefully says whatever sounds good to his own ears. Thus misinformed, SGT Manny's soldiers spread across the hinterlands looking for the right place to be.
Now, Dear Reader, don't think I'm being too judgmental. There's a simple equation I use judge leaders. At the top of numbers one through ten, you rate how much a leader honestly cares and works for her or his soldiers' well being. On the bottom, you rate how much recognition a leader wants. Simple and easily mastered criteria. Guess how SGT Manny measures up?
Hey there Dear Reader, I want to apologize for the gap in posting.
As happens occasionally to those off in a war zone, I have
been incredibly busy for the past two weeks. I've been posting things
written before I headed in country, but uh, my little store has run
out, so I'm going to have to start writing new stuff.
Anyway, due to security concerns, I still can't tell you many
details about where I am. On one hand, there are people very nearby
trying to kill not only me, but also every other American and
Coalition individual with whom we're working. The possibility that
something I say here could be used to harm one my people here terrifies
me. It has actually given me the sweaty, awful nightmares that aren't
immediately blinked away by the daylight. My first priority is making sure
that my people are safe. Telling the truth about being a queer in the
Army, for the moment, comes in a distant second.
The other reason I need to be careful is that, hey, queer in the Army,
don't what to get outed, beaten to death, all that fun stuff.
So here's what's going to happen. I'm going to keep talking. We going
to call this place "Klatch." All you Terry Pratchett fans out there
enjoy the reference. For those of you who have not read the stories of
the disk world, please, go out and read some Prachett books. I
recommend starting with either Feet Of Clay or Going Postal. Both are
Without further ado, straight from Klatch, here's the Combat Queer.
Dear Reader, I'm about to do something that I have promised many people I would never, ever do. I am about to buy a Contemporary Christian Music album.
So Dear Reader, I'm getting a sort-a kinda-a break from the Army this weekend. Deal is, I don't have to do any work, but I can't leave the immediate area of the base. The past couple of weeks have been a bear(there's been a small amount of mauling), so I decided to throw away some money on a hotel room off post. Now this is the kind of place that normally would be used by some PV2 to order some anonymous tail and loose his virginity, but hey, I get a little privacy and am not bugged to death by the drunkenness of my idiot roommates.