Thursday, November 29, 2007

If only life were black and white

I’ve always had mixed feelings about things military. I really abhor violence and weapons, which probably means they scare me, I’m not sure. On the other hand I understand the need for order and social discipline, within the proper constraints.

So when a friend’s son asked me to attend his cadet unit passing out parade I was pleased and wary at the same time. With only Mum and big sister 17 YO Jake looks to me as some kind of role model, which is odd for a kid intent on joining the army.

He’s not the first kid who has accepted my general antipathy to things military, but sought my moral support all the same. To be fair, Jake wants to be in transport, but I know life isn’t that cut and dry in the military, he might actually have to do the tough stuff.

But watching these kids train, to do drill and the rest fills me with a measure of pride. For me at their age it was gymnastics, which required self discipline through to leadership, without the spectre of military. But I can’t condemn the commitment I’ve seen in this lot or those I’ve known before.

While they were on the parade ground there was a chorus of jeers from over the field, the kids who won’t or can’t commit to anything. Oddly enough, I think those kids jeering are going to see more mindless violence than the kids on the parade ground sweating their butts off trying to achieve something.

D.K. Raed recently asked for our memories of 60s protest songs. With all the usual suspects likely to come out I went for an 80s song, reflecting on VietnamOnly 19

I was playing it on Youtube before I posted my comment and young Jake walked in and stopped in recognition of something special.

So here we are in late 2007 and a 17 YO tells me this song from the 1980’s about the 1960’s is some sort of anthem to these kids, the cadets. Damned if I know, the older I get the less I know.

I do know I felt very proud to have been invited to this event and to watch those kids trying to be the best they possibly could be. Young Corporal (Acting Sergeant) Jake was passing out after his five years of cadets and he did so with dignity and discipline. I know there were regrets and disappointments, but he didn’t show any of that.

If we have to have a military these young people, and those I’ve known in the past, give a real hope where I never thought I could expect it. It isn’t dumb aggression but rather an imperative to find some rational and sensible responses to those things we find so difficult to control.


D.K. Raed said...

I hope young Jake IS some kind of role model, a thinking military man who has pride in his commitment to defend his country, in learning the history as well as the camraderie of his corps. I don't fault the military for how civilian leaders have misused them.

I'm only just getting caught up here, Cartledge. I relistened to your contribution of "Only 19" & it is a very valid protest song, one of which I was totally unaware. It shouldn't be, but is, amazing to me how applicable those old anti-war songs are today.

I was so pleased your new PM was quick to announce an exit from iraq. Now if only we here weren't so afraid that our lame-duck prez & his VP-Borg would use some suddenly freed-up troops to make a charge into iran, we might do the same!

Cartledge said...

We are working on Jake, vis a vis role model. He's a good kid still recovering the effects of a violent father.
But he knows and wants better and has adopted me, among others, to help him move on.
I don't like kids all that much, but I'm impressed with this one, and a few of his cadet friends.