Many Americans put too much weight on the opinions of veterans at times like right now. Veterans are not experts in politics, economics, or international policy. Some of us do know a little more about the last one than your average bear, but not all of us are experts in it. That being said military personnel are extremely good at a lot of other things that I think can benefit American Citizens during times of uncertainty. Take the list below and use it in all aspects of your life and I promise you will reap the benefits.
If anyone understands what it is like to wait on the dissemination of information from the big cogs of the political machine it is the United States Military. Simultaneously, waiting for direction from higher can be disastrous. Failing to seize initiative will surely result in defeat and in military engagements, death (See any major Russian battle in the the last hundred years). Are you unsure of the outcome of the pandemic, civil rights movements, and elections? Great! Wake up every day and do the things you can to continue moving forward and gain ground. This means:
Negativity and positivity are equally contagious. Negativity and Positivity have an equal level of impact on those people around you. Choose to spread negativity and I promise you, you will see said negativity in those people you are closest with. It spreads like a virus and reproduces like mold. Choose to spread positivity however and you will see it multiply with exponential effect in your own groups and out to those around you. There are countless stories of heroism on behalf of the American Military (See last stand of fox company or Faith of my Fathers).
Talk to anyone who has been a POW and they all can point to those few individuals who helped them to keep the faith. The beauty of helping others keep the faith is that at times your morale will flag and fail. You will be able to lean on others in your camp should you grow weak in your own resolve. Growing weak in your own resolve is not a matter of if. It is a matter of when. Some of us wither faster than others. Strong groups of individuals take far longer to break than a single individual
John McCain wrote in Faith of My Fathers about his time in the Hanoi Hilton and other POW camps. One of the things the Vietnamese did to break the welfare of Americans to great success was keeping them isolated from one and another. When the Vietnamese finally allowed the POWs to live communally they grew stronger. They developed a resistant spirit and kept faith with their fellow prisoners. They sourced dozens of small pieces of fabric and a bamboo needle. They sowed a flag and said the pledge of allegiance together every day. They never could have accomplished this alone.
If you are in a situation where you have fierce competition, do not build them up in your own head. They are not the boogeyman. They are not living in some fantasy world that is not impacted by the same difficulties you are facing. The playing board is level. The deck is not stacked against you. The Marines who fought at the Choisin Resevoir in subzero temperatures were amazed to find journals of their enemy complaining about the cold temperatures. After all they were fighting in their home territory, why weren’t they prepared for it.? They were human, that is why. The enemy doesn’t have some superpower or secret trick that you don’t.
There is one key factor to success for anyone who accomplishes the impossible. They refused to believe the stupid shit everyone around them constantly told them. They refused to believe that things people told them were impossible actually were. Instead they chose to find a around the obstacles in their path. They exploited there own strengths and the weaknesses of individuals, systems, or area around them in order to achieve the impossible. You will rarely ever have an optimal situation to follow through on the things you want to achieve.
You can always save a little more before making a big purchase. You can always make an excuse that now just isn’t the right time. I’ll start my diet tomorrow. We’ll save more money next month. We can start trying to have a kid next year. The landing on the beaches of Normandy had good reason to be canceled leading into D-day. The allies chose to do it anyway and had they waited much longer Adolf Hitler very well may have reallocated his forces to have even stronger defenses to withstand an attack at a later date.
John McCarthy is a Father, Son, Husband and former Marine Infantry Officer. He serves his local community and just wants to push people to be better humans. Check out the Tough Talk Podcast and other writings on this website to learn more.