Words are powerful creatures. If you consider your history, you will realize that it was but words that made you into the warrior you are today. Certainly there was physical training, combat skill development, and marksmanship instruction. But make no mistake, all of that can be replicated by those who never put on the uniform. The Olympics are rarely won by Veterans, a Marine is not the UFC Heavyweight champion, and that old surly guy who has been shooting turkeys since he was 4 in the hills of Kentucky can probably shoot as well as you. Rather, it was words that designed you, molded you, and engineered you into the Marine, Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Coast Guard person that you are today. My Drill Instructors used words to order and I obeyed. They used words to reprimand and I was corrected. Words taught me their history and traditions which I started to live up to. And then finally, with a word, they called me a Marine and it was forever so. Thus it is with words, that the bustling online military community can heal, equip, and inspire those Veterans who are struggling to still make sense of it all this side of war. Words require no legislation or funding, just respected Veterans willing to use them wisely and with purpose.
Downward Spiral Thinking
Have you ever noticed that when you buy a new car, that exact same type of car starts to appear everywhere on the road? On the back of cars could by any number of bumper stickers, but why is it that Marines will instantly notice the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor in the sea of traffic? Why is it, that when a Drill Instructor calls you a maggot long enough, that you start to actually feel that way before they build you back up? Have you ever noticed, that when you exclusively surround yourselves with Veterans who only talk about missing war and how civilians don’t get them that you start to miss it a little more, gain a little more distaste for civilians, and before you know it, you are existing in an entirely made up world in which you no longer enjoy your part.
“Attention is like light and air and water. Shine attention on obstacles and problems and they multiply lavishly.” Ben Zander in The Art of Possibility Great book. Veterans are not children who need to be sheltered from discouraging words. However, we are humans who are affected by them. Seems like a super famous Marine once used words to encourage his men when surrounded by the Chinese in the Chosin Reservoir. I mean, it is not like we still quote those words today or anything. How many times has someone with great result uttered the words to you, “Act Like a Marine”, “Ranger Up”, or “Ruck Up”. For goodness sake, Ooh Rah is not even a word, but when General Mattis says it, then entire Corps gets a simultaneous motto-boner. Words matter and are powerful. And if my blog were to ever to cause you to start thinking about the negative only, then you need quit me quicker than the Joker quit Jarhead in that weird Brokeback Batman sequel. Yeah, as it turns out the Dark Knight took on a totally different meaning in that one.
The Online Community
I love the online military community. I love just about every single page from all the various warfighter apparel companies, to the non-profits, and even the absurd for which I would often throw my page into the latter. This community has done well to connect multiple generations and provide a voice for very real expression and a connection for very real help. But if anyone of them are dragging you down, then you have my permission to ditch them, Unprecedented Mediocrity included. I have done my fair share of commenting on the past, but its utility is fading and forward is the only way to go. Because I am going to be honest with you, none of us are getting any younger. If 10 years from now, we are a community who has done nothing but sit around and talk about how much we miss war and how people don’t get us, then we might as well be the military equivalent of “Da Bears” from Saturday Night Live.
Sitting around, dreaming of the 86 Bears, eating hot wings and drinking beer sounds like a swell time, but to be honest, that is not going to put a Super Bowl ring on Jay Cutler’s finger today. For that matter, Jay Cutler is never going to put a Super Bowl ring on Jay Cutler’s finger. But brothers and sisters in arms, sitting around speaking only of obstacle and the past will accomplish nothing today. Words matter, they are powerful, and they will drag you down to a spiral of discontent if you immerse yourself in the wrong ones.
Look around at the various online communities who get it right and pay close attention. They are businesses, not fat people sitting on a couch saying, “Da Bears.” Do the Grunts who decided to start a line of clothing sound like people stuck on obstacles? Does the grunt who started drawing comics and became a sensation sound like a guy who obsesses over obstacles? Do the freaking Veterans who got William Freaking Shatner to star in a movie with them sound like the guys sitting around obsessing about the past? I think not, so why are you?
Obstacles are just facts people. Current realities of the world that exist and it serves us no good to wait for the world that “should be” to start living. Yes there are very real medical, mental health, and substance abuse issue for which treatment is appropriate. Yes, we should advocate for our Government to treat Veterans in a manner commensurable with their sacrifice. Yet, for so much else that plagues us, all we need to do is surround ourselves with people who tell us to act like a Marine, and lo and behold, those words just might make us do it. “Ruck Up”, I think that is something army guys say, but if that is what gets you off your butt, then surround yourself with people who say it. I have never told anyone to “Ruck Up” in my life, but it sounds motivating.
To all of us with a voice online be it small or large should do our part to advance the possibility. It would be my hope that we all realize the power of words and the purpose it can inspire in those who need it most. Most of us understand this already, but so many have failed to get the message. Use words, powerful words and catch your brothers up to speed. We wouldn’t have half the industry we do right now if the mighty World War 2 and Vietnam Generation sat around online complaining and I’ll not forfeit the future that was meant for us by doing so.
Say for one second, “I miss war”, then for the next 60 seconds do work and scream “Always Forward.” Laugh about your “private time” in a poop filled porta-potty and then go out and get a real date. Real women smell better, I promise. Start living life from a vantage of possibility rather than obstacle and the past. Honestly, if you obsessed over obstacle in War like you do over here in America, you never would have made it home to begin with. Obstacle says bad guys have the door zeroed in, and Possibility picks up a SMAW and blows a freaking hole in wall. Which one will you be? Always forward and create for yourself a reality that brings you joy. Legal Disclaimer: Very few obstacles here in America require a SMAW and hole in someone else’s property. That was a metaphor. Look it up.
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