Instead of shaking off spring quarter and spending a day in a vegetative state, within six hours of submitting one last final paper, a friend posted this video (thanks, Rummy!). Still dizzy from finals week, yet I can't resist blogging about this gentleman, Australia's army chief Lieutenant General David Morrison. I'm glad to have a reason to start again. Inspired is the word.
Video courtesy YouTube user AustralianArmyHQ
This message was filmed in response to news that 17 Australian Defence Force (ADF) soldiers recorded themselves with sexual partners and shared the material over ADF computer systems and the Internet, with a further 90 personnel implicated in the e-mail ring. This is not the first instance of this kind of behavior in the ADF or any other branch of the military.
I love this video. Judging by the positive attention it's getting, I am not the only one.
A relative recently told me that men and women don't belong in the service together (we're a tactless family) and I responded that it's a new military, but that's not it exactly. I've heard these words hundreds of time, dozens of paraphrases. Every time, I have an unsettled feeling, like the knotty reasoning would unravel if I could just sort out this single, simple thought that keeps escaping me. Lt. Gen. Morrison personifies the answer.
The idea that men and women serving side by side weakens the military? Wrong. Not right, never has been right, not for a minute. How could it have been? Those who would segregate the sexes would do so to preserve individual weakness in a subgroup of service members. There it is, the knot hacked to pieces. Lt. Gen. Morrison's strength and leadership contrast so sharply with the "traditional" debauched soldier stereotype that I wonder how I let the concept get so tangled in the first place.
Most countries expect self-control from their military. In the Marine Corps, we live by the core values of honor, courage, and commitment. Not individualism, gratification, and misrepresentation. For the record, that relative I mentioned has never served in the armed forces, so I wouldn't expect them to understand the sense of identity we get from our shared values.
We're expected to behave with consideration and respect. They're not asking too much, in a global society with video phones in every pocket. Not that the expectation of getting caught should be the main reason to hold true to the values, but come on. You will get caught.
How did the expectation of good behavior become a sign of weakness? Being good is harder than being bad. We say from the beginning, "You are a Marine 24-7." High standards don't end when the door closes. They sure as hell don't end because a woman's in the room. "The standard you walk past is the standard you accept."
To anyone out there who wants to be a Marine one day, even those who've made it into the service but still don't quite understand why we need to change: We no longer live in a world with demographic exceptions to the golden rule. Figure it out, or get out. It's a lean military. Plenty of young hopefuls are ready to take your spot.