Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Military Enlistment

The military, not surprisingly, is encouraging parents to allow their children to enlist. Although I don't think we should have gotten involved in the war that caused the enlistment problems, the best way to keep our people safe and get them out as quickly as possible is to make sure they have all the resources they need, including personnel.

There's very few things in this world worse then parents involved in and controlling every decision their children make. Parents need to let their children make mistakes, allow them to injure themselves. They must allow them to make monumental screw ups and figure out how to extract themselves. Otherwise, they will never be self sufficient confident adults. Of course, military enrollment is none of those things anyway. It's a chance for children to become adults, to gain life experience. It's a chance for them to find themselves. It seems like it would be particularly effective as a positive life experience if the child had trouble in school. Both college and the military are excellent ways to form character independent of parents. Community college is good to save money but going off to college and being completely independent of parents is even more important than the academics. I encourage minimal phone calls home and visit only when absolutely necessary. If possible, don't take any money from the parents either. That's how I went through school and highly recommend it. The military basically forces all of these growth factors and then adds plenty more. Yes, the military can be a dangerous place to be. But so can driving down the road or walking across the street. Going through life sheltered from danger is no way to live a life.

I think an incentive program that functions as a pseudo draft would be an appropriate way to improve recruitment. Even a draft would be acceptable as far as I'm concerned, but I don't think that produces the best military force, especially in today's world. In Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein everyone had to serve in the military before they could vote. That doesn't seem very practical. Perhaps it would work if you have a list of choices that a young citizen has to choose from before being allowed to vote ( or some other incentive like better job placement resources or additional college grants). Examples of civil service choices could be military service, peace corps, relief efforts, campaign workers, environmental cleanup crews. Anything that benefits greater good and requires young adults for basic tasks (gophers or grunts). Perhaps set it up so that when someone turns 18, they do more than just fill out a piece of paper and send it in. They are required to attend a seminar or something that educates them on their options. Maybe they would takes tests to determine what civil service best fits them. Perhaps just attending the program would be sufficient to gain the right to vote.

I myself have never joined the military. At the time I thought it meant becoming a mindless automaton, which is the antithesis of what I strive to be. I now realize that conclusion is not necessarily true. But I'm also a complete clutz and have no hand eye coordination. I would probably end up shooting myself or running over somebody with a humvee. And I reflexively resist being given orders - I have to agree with something before I do it. I also hate neatness and tidyness - cleaning only occurs to me when the stench gets overpowering or I can no longer use the thing that needs to be cleaned. Not to mention I'm a chickenshit with no backbone when it comes to things that require action. I also have a MacGyver style discomfort with guns. So the military was not a good fit for me. Besides, I did good in school and got a good scholarship so I didn't need the military.

PS The other way to improve recruitment would be to restore confidence that our soldiers are being sacrificed for a good reason. People don't mind volunteering for their death if it's for a cause they believe in. Bush can not provide that confidence, nor can anyone associated with him. No one who takes the time to think about it logically can believe in Bush or his administration when it comes to military action.


Blogger A BOY NAMED GMU said...

Was MacGyver uncomfortable with guns? I don't remember that show at all. Except when someone makes, like, a bomb with an orange and a popsicle stick and someone else calls him MacGyver. Not that I actually know anyone that can do that...

5:54 PM  
Blogger Chris from MI said...

Yeah, MacGyver is basically my hero. He had a lot of liberal views, despite the fact that he was like the ultimate commando/ spy. He did a lot of things he didn't feel comfortable with, but never used guns. He used his head and only resorted to violence when necessary.

6:06 PM  
Anonymous your brother from mi said...

pffft, being a self sufficient confident adult is overrated!

Also, MacGyver is awesome. When I wasn't working or going to school I got to watch reruns on TVLand every day! (see, no self sufficient adult would have that opportunity) And for some reason I have this memory (I don't have very many childhood memories that I can call up at will, but this is one) of us watching MacGyver together while eating saltine crackers. MacGyver - saving the world and forming personalities since 1985.

7:13 PM  

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