I read an interesting article today by Corbin and Parks in The Federalist; they are engaging professors who write on political matters. The article got me to thinking, and anyone who has bothered to visit my renderings should know the direction that takes.
One thing I took from that article, and others I have read yesterday, suggest that the millennials hold the key to the future, and this makes sense to me, as they were complicit in electing our current president, and with the aging of older generations, they are the coming voting majority. Millennial: who are they?
Roughly, I think, they are those who have come to age of maturity in this millennium, or at least the last two decades.
They are the generation most affected by television, computers and various social media.
They are our most propagandized generation ever since they were brought up in this environment.
They seem predisposed to accept bigger government with stronger central control.
They are comfortable with increased regulation aimed at “fairness”, which means to me more regulated egalitarianism.
They are prone to fantasy, due to their environmental influences, and that means – to me – most disposed to accept propaganda, pretty much at face value; that is, with minimal questioning.
They accept bigness of most everything, or at least do not oppose it: big business, big marketing, big entertainment, big information (particularly media), and big money influence. Big legal environment too, meaning lots of law suits.
The big money influence is interesting, as they seem to oppose the wealth gap that is so strongly decried these days; but they are less concerned with the influence of money that it generates. That opposition of a wealth gap seems egalitarian oriented, and that is also indicated by their apparent influence of what they see as the need for fairness in social issues, fairness as perceived by them based on their social views. They see the flaws that are apparent in the American system and our history, but they are less prone to see its strengths, perhaps because they do not understand them – or care, except as they support them.
What all this, and other things I have observed, means is that they are poorly aware of culture and what it entails, and the differences in culture throughout the world, seeing our flaws but not those of others, of which they are mostly unaware, or indifferent. To me this means they are rather naive, and lack an understanding of the reality of the world, the people in it, and the historical relationships among nations, cultures and economic systems.
From discussions I have had with many people, this has a tendency to be somewhat age related, particularly during what we generally refer to as modernity; many have told me “when I was that age I wasn’t much interested in affairs of the world either.
Education is interesting too. What does it mean to them? It seems that primarily it is associated with a ticket to the good life, without much consideration for what the attending process, e.g. education to good life, entails. Some of this is probably due to the propagandist nature of what education has become: a ticket rather than a process; but some of it comes from the supply/demand nature of free enterprise, of which “education” is one element. But even then education is seen narrowly, and experience seems to be a matter of less important concern, and less respect.
The result of that seems to be a general feeling that one can gain the tickets to a good life without a great deal of effort, pursuing pretty much anything as long as it results in a degree, and so those tickets are necessarily strongly identified with a college education and somewhat deprecatory of what we are prone to refer to as skilled labor. As the complexity of our world has increased, along with such as electronics and finance, but also international relations and economics, there is merit to believing, even to preaching, that life success is more and more tied to the sophistication that college education can provide; even the skills of labor tend to be more demanding than they once were. I don’t deny, but I think we have oversold it rather unrealistically and, to a great extent in terms of customer (student) demand: what he/she wants; rather than economic demand for the services he/she can provide: what the economy needs and can accommodate. There is a disconnect, and I see that as something more or less inherent in millennial thinking: supply and demand is a systemic approach to reality as opposed to a personal approach to what should be; that is, if I demand it, supply should be there.
To me this all ties together into an unreality that is not healthy, or a belief that the world can be how we want it to be and not how it is, merely because we want it that way. I have regularly called this human nature, and I know there are those that deny there is any thing or that we can change human nature. If we can, we apparently haven’t found the formula yet to do so. Religion was supposed to, and made important strides, but imperfectly, and now many are denying the value even of religious principles because they are out of date and unrealistic.
But then our Constitution is accused of being the same: principles that are out of date. In fact even principles have been misconstrued and confused with rights and entitlement, so principles are out of date?
I see a pattern here, and it is a worrisome pattern. What if this line of thinking becomes predominant, as the older generation phases out and the new phases in? This has been a long trend that has only picked up steam with the electronic communication explosion that has occurred and consumed Millennials; is it permanent? If it is, what does this mean for the future of our nation? of our world, for that matter? Where are we going?”
This does not mean that all millennials are bad, it means they tend to be different, and see things differently, and often unrealistically. That, and what it might entail for our nation is something to which we should all give serious thought and consideration.
Ignorance creates a potentially productive field for propaganda, in fact the latter is dependent on the former.
It is interesting to study the differences between Eastern thought and Western thought; both have advantages. In a nutshell Western thought tends to be straight line; we refer to it as logical, and logic is the necessary basis of scientific method; it tends toward black and white and either/or. In scientific method that is required to get to the next step: if tested wrong (the hypothesis), what does it take to make it right? Eastern thought, concentrating on relationships in context as opposed to indiviuality, takes a more balanced view, a more nothing is either all wrong or all right view, making scientific progress more difficult and less likely to succeed, since nothing tends to be either right or wrong. But it also moves away from the unipolar singularity of your way or my way (and my way or the highway) and nothing in between.
So which is best? It is subjective. In scientific endeavor, where something either works or doesn’t, straight line logic is essential; in areas such as politics or foreign relations, where people are involved, a more balanced approach accepts that there is often no single cause for a given situation and often realizes that multiple causes, often with different intensity, are not only more likely but more realistic. So which is better? Aside from subjectivity, generally a balance is better than either, and essential to not only cause, but to understanding a complex, non-linear problem. To wit, we should have broad enough processing capability to think either scientifically or relatively – or a combination, for that matter – depending on the problem or situation being addressed.
This should be particularly informative to Western linear thinkers in light of the polarity that has developed over recent decades. Political right and left are particularly evident: conservative and liberal; but the I am right and you are wrong way of it has much to do with the growing evidence of social contention that has become so prevalent, or at least so obvious.
Specifically, there is a tendency to latch onto a single idea or argument and proceed closed minded from there, with utter and antagonistic intensity and disregard for alternative views.
Let me morph that into several favorite subjects of mine: interpersonal relationships, complacency and the foundation of today’s propaganda environment. I have to start with our favored means of propaganda; electronic (preferably visual) communication; first television, then social networks, where short sound bite arguments are popular and easily propagated. It is so easy to know one is right when facts are limited and details are neither known nor understood – nor is there felt to be any need nor desire to know or understand (complacency). I have been more and more turned off by the confrontational but shallow format of panel debate on television, but the focused, and usually simplistic, put down expressed in many forwarded emails is almost as bad. And the automatic and agressively know it all comments to intelligent discussion presented in knowledgeable internet articles? Oh my. The justification for this is that that is what the public wants.
And therein lies a serious problem: ignorance exacerbated emotionally and aggressively by propaganda in popular format, feeding us what we want to hear; Is there any wonder that we have contention? The professional providers are convinced that we like it, the customer is always right, and we need to provide the customer whatever he/she wants – in order to make money through viewership, readership and advertising (which is yet more propaganda). Supply and demand is not necessarily the best format for educating or conveying information.
The success of our form of government is based upon an informed electorate and understanding of the need to compromise across widely different views and opinion. Simple answers and generalizations are not the way to get there, and our favored propaganda environment – along with our straight line logical approach to thinking – don’t lead there; nor do they lead to understanding a complex problem where there is no single cause, but a bevy of them, usually extending over a period of time. On the other hand our proclivity to be complacent just adds fuel to that fire: I don’t want to hear about it. No wonder the media wants to keep it simple and avoid multiplicity of variable intensity causes.
And interpersonal relationships? don’t they suffer from the same set of problems? Does not one just reinforce the others? or at least preclude anything be done to effectively address them? I read an article today discussing the reason for failure of American cities over the past 100 years, and was taken with how it fits right in with this line of thought. What is THE cause? THE cause? give me a break. I was also exposed to a discussion that sounded more like an empassioned lecture on subjects where opposition was met with rancor and higher decibel denial; that is not the kind of discussion that leads to greater understanding, but seems more and more common these days.
This challenge runs through much of our social relationship, which needs to be expanded from the simplistic to accommodate greater complexity, more exchange, and deeper thinking, which does not mean we need to throw out our way of thinking that has yielded such success – just expand it to make it applicable to all the additional social problems we are facing that have such increased and increasing complexity.
The fact that it is increasingly rare to find such an approach is revealing, and concerning, with the ignorance it spawns encouraging propaganda, which is almost always simplistic and focused. Blending an Eastern and Western approach in complex multi cause problems would be better handled.
A recent joke: women are crazy – because men are stupid.
Over-simplistic, of course, but that’s how jokes tend to be. However, there is a grain of truth in it, particularly in relationships. Men and women, of course, are different, and that difference is based, among other things on their biological roles in life.
Women, biologically, are designed to bear children and that has an effect; but they also bear children, and that has an even greater effect. Much in between, and lots of variation in experience, but that does have an effect on relationships. Specifically, most women have an attachment to their children that men do not have, which does not mean that men don’t care for their children, but that the attachment is different. How so?
Well, childbirth and child raising demands, and if it is addressed conscientiously, it develop responsibility. So men are irresponsible in raising children? Not at all, or at least not necessarily; but their responsibility tends to be differently constructed, based on their different and usually less personal roles as related to the children. For whatever reason, it would appear that responsibility among women occurs (generally, if it occurs) earlier. Child bearing and rearing then are an intrinsic part of a woman’s nature. So there are exceptions; bear with me.
Because of that; and now I am speculating, and generalizing; a woman’s approach to a relationship, not only with children, but with men, begins and progresses with a relationship focus that is different than with men, whose responsibility focus is more likely to be on vocation and/or taking care of family. I know, generalization, but I am generalizing.
So when I woman gets to treating her man in a manner not unlike the way she treats her children I would suggest it more normal than unusual. And that is only exacerbated when the man is either irresponsible or late maturing. Of course that treatment, that focusing, can be myopic and destructive But the man’s can be equally, say, broad, or even indifferent in outlook. That form of relationship, once entered, can continue unabated throughout life. Sometimes it can be accepted, more often it is resented; but in most cases it has a clear effect on how closely and interactively the relationship develops and endures.
It needn’t, of course, and lives are full of other influences, including experiences, education and other relationships, and different people assimilate those differently and with different intensities. However, I would submit that there is a tendency for the biological roles to endure. And often that comes out as women being crazy and men being stupid because that is the way it often can seem, and appear.
So what? Responsibility in a relationship – mutual responsibility – is key to its success and has to be grown and nurtured; women tend to have a head start. It is distressing that today the growth and nurturing seems to be less actively pursued than in the past, for many reasons, by both parties, and that, in my opinion, is contributory to family dissolution, though only contributory. Much else is involved as well, but that’s a deeper subject that I shall not address here. The point, of course, is the importance of responsibility, and an important facet of that is understanding what is happening, why, and being able to discuss it and deal with it – with an open mind, responsibly. More difficult than it might seem; but with proper motivation it is achievable.
Motivation and responsibility; how about that? Who’d a’thunk it? And question of why relationships, even beyond matrimonial ones seem to be fraying more often today?
Give it some thought: responsibility and the difference it takes due to the different roles. And motivation to make it work.
Recently it has become popular to laud our heroes, particularly the returning warriors from the difficult wars with terrorists thoughtout the world. On top of that came the flood of adulation over induction of medal of honor winners and recent monuments.
This is a wonderful thing in this our world of criticism and put down; thank you for your service. May I express a bit of skepticism? It is my thing, you know, or if you don’t, be aware that it is my thing: I used to call it cynicism but now prefer skepticism. And as to medal of honor winners, it’s about time, but maybe the second or third time around?
Do not get me wrong; our returning warriors have made great sacrifice and are to be lauded. And winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor performed in a manner that can only be described as awesome. But I doubt sincerity of many; it appears to me to be so much propagandist lip service to too many. Do they really appreciate? Do they even understand the sacrifice and its importance to our country? I often doubt it.
First hero, and this fits in with the medal of honor; those men, and pardon me, I believe they were all men, were true heros in the classical definition of that word. They met challenge with incredible valour and dedication; no one can deny them and all should have greatest admiration for them; they are special men – or were. But all warriors are not confronted with a situation that would allow them the challenge to qualify for hero; it takes prolonged and continual selfless confrontation of sacrifice for others to which most of us would not or could not stand up. That’s why it is so remarkable.
So to call all returning warriors heros is frankly an insult to those who truly were heros, and those, incidentally were not all medal of honor winners; there are lessor awards that still qualify as heroism. But all who make the sacrifice of serving their country in a combat environment are not even directly involved in combat, even though all might, through action of the enemy. There are combatant warriors and there are those that support. I had the honor of performing both, and my Infantry experience did not occur when our nation was at war and my support experience in Vietnam did not entail direct face to face combat experience. Thats just the way it was.
So back to heroes – or even warriors. What is it we are lauding? Should it not be sacrifice in the service of our nation? That after all is what it is, and what we should be lauding, and being thankful for. Additionally I also must admit to greater respect for those who actually risked their lives in combat; but then it’s all relative, I suppose. And I can say that as one who didn’t, through no choice of my own.
But there is one more thing I would like to adress and that has to do with the preparation of those who are thrust into that role – all voluntarily, I might add, since we no longer employ a draft, and don’t because we have enough volunteers. Now is that not impressive? It should be.
We, however, in my opinion, have far too little respect and admiration for a key group who deserve it perhaps more than any; Rudyard Kipling put it as the non-commissioned man is the backbone or the army; it is true. These are the men, and women today, who start at the bottom, study, train and serve – teach and lead. Infantry officer platoon leaders are assigned platoon sergeants, partly to assist with their experience, but partly to help train that officer with that same experience; I still remember the name of mine to this day: Billy Hayes jumped into Normandy and Market Garden, and was a hell of a non-com. Being one is a weighty responsibility and requires acquired skill and exceptional dedication. Those men, and now women, are truly the backbone of the army, and we should afford them more, much more respect; they deserve every bit of it.
We could not do it without them, nor will we ever be able to.
First must have come families, then tribes, ultimately tribal nations, then kings and dictators; then came the great American experiment. In between came Christianity.
Christianity was a good and progressive thing, despite what nit picking derrogators might wish to throw at it. The American Experiment evolved from Christianity. But as all good things, the world has carried to great experiment too far and is attempting, through something called universal democracy, to destroy it.
Basically, this is my own personal interpretation, so criticize as you will, but give it thought. Humanity, since the beginning, and not unlike all of the animal kingdom, is hierarchical. Survival of the fittest comes to mind, but human families were not so dissimilar; there is was patriarchy. Father was the ruler, and then came tribal chiefs and things folllowed from there.
What evolved was the two extremes, leaders and the led; or if you will, leaders and dependents. As things progressed and grew, and became more complicated, it became evident that two extremes was simplistic; there was much in between; but the extremes, the fringes remained and two views have evolved; I like to refer to them as reality versus fantasy. The rest came only slowly.
The reality is still hierarchically autocratic because there are differences in ability, motivation, inspiration, talent, personality, charisma and much else; we are not all equal. How some think it should be – fantasy – is a kind of “democratic” fantasy where all are equal in everything and in all decisions majority should rule. That may be progress, but as always good things go too far – and progressive liberalism is no exception. There are two extremes and always will be: those that are powerful and know how to be, and those that are poor and are willing to let others take care of them. Intelligent and stupid is a metaphor for that, but it’s a generality and oversimplified, and not really true.
The great American experiment suggested the truth without doing away with the reality (and fantasy) of the extremes, which do still exist. The truth, as always, that there is much in between the extremes, and given a chance a moderate middle can be formed, but only with great care and and understanding of reality: the chance being opportunity based on motivation and initiative. Reality, I might add, is the institutions that support it.
We call it middle class, and that’s as good as any; the world calls what results democracy, but freedom and liberty is more accurate, and adding free enterprise makes it perhaps even more so. Give many the choice and opportunity and with motivation they will run with it; we in the United States have proven that it works. Now, take away the initiative (through unrestricted welfare, over-taxing and over regulating entrepreneurs, and restricting freedoms arbitrarily including mandating all kinds of trivial things) will take away initiative and leave us only with the powerful and those willing to let themselves be taken care of. We have been heading in that direction through letting liberalism go too far and the middle class is under pressure; we’re still a long way off, but heading in that direction.
I’ll not elaborate on the checks, balances and necessary curbs on unrestricted freedom to do whatever; those are what our founders created with great difficulty and much rancor through a Constitution, built on principles, not rules; although reasonable rules – laws and necessary regulations – have evolved from the principles. Some say the Constitution is outmoded, wanting more rules to benefit those that could game from them; I suggest the principles are still valid. Oh, and there are the institutions that have developed as a result of all that, making the achieved result possible. Rule of law is one, but there are many others that have similarly contributed.
In the meantime two groups have flooded to the US over time, and are still flooding here, and those have also evolved: basically there are those looking to be taken care of and those looking for opportunity; the liberalism gone too far is attracting more of the former, whereas the latter was what has been our strength in the past. I know, that is also rather simplistic.
Left to its own we are likely revert to historical (meaning looong historical) reality of the powerful, and those willing to let them be, as long as they are cared for (however rudimentally), with the powerful just getting rid of those that cause problems for them, leaving the docile.
Having experienced and lived with a thriving middle class and the results therefrom will mitigate against that happening; but will that be enough? we’ll see. Hopefully it will. And therein lies the battles of the future: middle class fighting to keep what they have as well as what they have created against the fringes. It’s been good and can continue, but it will be a monumental struggle, as it has always been, at least since it was found that it COULD work.
Yes there are those that are content to be cared for, and we are finding there are more and more of them – and there are those that cannot care for themselves; and there are those that are content to provide that care through government and taxation of those able to contribute. The successful middle class has made that pretty effective as long as it was limited, but expectations and reality must be balanced, and rising expectations with the reality of dwindling means caused at least partially by unsupportable restrictions on motivation and inspiration, are becoming increasingly challenging. Will we continue to balance or revert?
Our form of government has always been a balancing act with the middle class the fulcrum, thus are we still the great experiment. In the long run, as we are beginning to realize, or at least those that are paying attention are beginning to realize, it is a precarious balance demanding not only the checks and balances and supporting institutions (developed over extended time), but a semblance of wisdom, willingness to compromise (since human full agreement is a rarity) and an awareness of both what we have achieved and what we must accept to retain it, to allow it to continue.
Be optimistic or pessimistic, there is a challenge, and it must be anchored in reality, a reality based on understanding. Yes, that is being challenged, but the challenge can be met, and it will be addressed over the next several decades within an uncompromising and difficult world that does not understand, but envies, and threatens. Destruction, after all, has always been easier than creation, and it is a will to destruct that seems to prevail at the moment, along with a commensurate will to not be willing to meet the cost of maintaining balance, mainly due to individual…..let’s call it greed, but excessive desire for pleasure and comfort might do as well.
What an interesting challenge it will be.
Another letter written in support of The Coalition of The Concerned.
CEO The Mission Continued
1141 South 7th Street
St. Louis, MO 63104
Dear Dr. Greitens:
This letter will be difficult for me to write, despite the fact that I have been intending to write in – for several reasons, as you will see – since I began reading it. I selected the book, along with it’s companion copy for 12 year-olds, mainly for a young friend, grandson of a close friend, whose son will be returning from Afghanistan next month; he has also served in Iraq, twice, I believe, and was sent from Fort Drum this time as a contingent to assist with intelligence training for Afghanis. But when I saw it I wanted my own copy to read as well. This letter will be too long, and I apologize for that; you have much to do and little time; but you have always had much to do and too little time. But I am writing it anyway.
I have to admit that not far into the book I began to find it unbelievable – you unbelievable – and looked you up on the Internet. Reading the comments about your I realized how wrong I was, and kept reading.
I come from an Army family; my father served as an engineer in China in WWII. As Eastern gymnastic all-round champion in the late 30s he had been posted to West Point to the athletic department and to train for the 1936 Olympics, that were never held. Buy shortly into his tour, as an engineer, he was diverted to duty in New England to help with flood disaster there. His brother went the The Naval Academy and served thirty years, retiring as a Captain. His other brother served in both the Army and the Navy during WWII. Sons of both sons attended The Naval Academy, one retiring as a captain, the other still in service. We are a military family. I mention this because you wrote “serving overseas, everyone in uniform is part of the same team.” more than that, we are a brotherhood, overused as that cliché has become. I’ll come back to that later. But I’ll also cite some other pieces from the book that I underlined – just because I want to; but I’ll save most until the end of a letter that will already be too long.
“SEAL training,” you wrote, “is..universally recognized as the hardest military training in the world.” You also pointed to the SEALS as the world’s greatest special operations force; you have no argument from me there. I trained in the Army’s Ranger school and qualified in Airborne school, but let’s face it, that does not compare to what you went through, not that I do not take pride in what I achieved; I learned a great deal – including about myself. I also served in Vietnam, but by the time that conflict had begun I had transferred from Infantry to Ordnance Corps; as you wrote, “it’s fun to think of strategy, but logistics are the key to successful operations.” While in Vietnam I served with MACSOG, but as a logistics officer, not as an on-line warrior, as you. I remain strongly aware of that distinction, and will never forget it.
I am also in an awed kind of way (the true meaning of that word) aware of the road you took, even before entering officer candidate school at a relatively late age. Going to China on your own as a teenager being exposed to marshal arts, training to box for three years in South Side Chicago, Bosnia, Rwanda, Bolivia; my God, what an unfair advantage that gave you, or so it would be described these days. But what moxie it took to do it. And, of course, then there was Oxford, that needs no comment from me. I was telling of this to a friend; she with the grandson, in fact, whom she took care of while her son, whose wife had left him, and to whom he had been given legal custody; was in Iraq. Well, she said, he obviously had the time and money to be able to do THAT. I quickly disabused her of that.
But enough of that; I also have another mission. And that mission derives from other of your comments that are cogent: “A few things were certain: I knew that I wanted to serve my country. I knew I wanted to be tested,” and “I love American idealism. I love the hopeful spirit of Americans endeavoring to shape the world for the better.” In this, I suggest, we have a new and very demanding problem, and because what I have learned of you, want to bring it to you. For this allow me to extract from letters I have written to others.
I am concerned, as are so many, with the drift of our government, our culture for that matter, and am frustrated with my own inability to influence that drift., and I know you share that concern. I was recently contacted by a colleague, actually a West Point classmate, who offers a possible solution. Pete Bahnsen, retired army officer, and subsequently a senior civilian manager within the Department of the Army, where he found himself engaged in what he calls whistle blowing, and with success, offered it. He is trying to organize what he refers to as a coalition of the concerned to address the problems he also, is seeing. That sounds ambitious, I know, but as I thought about it, it began to make more and more sense. The idea was to try and recruit the dedication he knew was out there, to do it. That began with identifying a broad brush of examples of what he sees as the problem, that he is publishing, in parts, in Google book segments – but more.
He asked me to contribute a list of potential contacts, of which you are one, one of the first in fact, who might become interested, and I have; for him, however, I needn’t have added your name as he is familiar with your work, and feels as I do. Next step was, is, to contact those and encourage them to contact others with like interests, concerns and motivation, with the goal of coming to a coalition of the concerned. Possible? I think it is. Difficult? Oh my, yes. But then I recall the motto of the U.S. Air Force (paraphrased): “the simple we do immediately, the difficult may take a little while.” I am impatient; Pete cautions me that it is journey, not a spring and I am listening. First the effort requires qualified – and dedicated – recruits; next comes leadership. Pete does not nominate himself for that task, leadership, but suggests that must come from within the recruited, where it certainly resides. His lists are not restricted to writers, but also include think tanks, institutions and researchers – and friends for that matter; there are many, many of those, more than I (naively) realized. I have, for example, already written a letter to Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale University.
Why Larry Arnn, why Hillsdale? I think that is the point. Pete describes it as revisiting that which launched us on the path that has brought us to where we have come: the Constitutional convention, a gathering of the qualified, dedicated, concerned citizens who addressed a critical problem. He calls it a revolution, perhaps it is a re visitation of revolution, of a different type. He has developed several websites in that interest, that are currently being revised, and has substituted an interim to show his objectives; that website is anewsocialcontract.info. I would encourage you to visit it and see for yourself where he is coming from.
That finishes the excerpt. I have to written several others, and will write more, two were mailed yesterday. I have a list that I have compiled from those for whom I have gained special respect; that list will grow as I rediscover those that have inspired me. I do not excel at propaganda type entreaties; each that I write will be personal and direct, and explanatory as to why I am writing them, as is this one. You have made clear what has motivated you, “I wanted to welcome returning wounded and disabled veterans not just with charity, but with a challenge.” How could that be better stated, and you are doing it – admirably; it fits you. But we don’t all have such callings, and I have searched for mine, and it has taken me longer to find something that makes me feel useful and able to contribute. I have tried writing. I wrote a book about little league football, published, but now out of print. I wrote and self published another entitled Avoiding Armageddon – Preserving Our Culture (Booklocker.com, 2005). That one was dropped from their catalog but I recently paid to have it reinstated, not because it will have any more influence, but because it made me feel good to do so. You will understand. We do things for our own reasons.
So why am I writing to you, other than wanting to show my respect and appreciation for what you have done and are doing? What do I – we – want? Nothing actually, other than to acquaint you with the effort that has been taken and is ongoing. We think it has potential and we hope, even believe, that, if successful, might make a contribution to making a difference. A difference has to come, if we are to continue – not so much in “leading” the world but to help the world become a better place, and to help protect as it does so. Yes, as you have clearly noted, a prodigious and ambitious task. We are making this effort to include you, and we can only see how it develops.
That having been said, I only want to list below some of what you wrote that resonated with me and brought me to feel the kinship that I have grown to feel from reading you and about you, a kinship that exists at the military brotherhood level, but goes beyond that.
“My thesis was simple. What matters for the long-term health and vitality of people who have suffered is not what they are given, but what they do.”
“Earl and Henry had demanded extraordinary performance, and I had never once heard them yell at or berate one of their fighters.
“I looked forward to being pushed by people who had served and earned the right to train me.”
“They’d all come to serve. We became one – same uniforms, same haircuts, same military language – but we all retained a rich diversity of thought and perspective and humor and philosophy. They were – almost to a person – kind and thoughtful, and it was through them that I began to rediscover America…my time away had afforded me an invaluable education about the world, but now,back home, I was being reintroduced to my fellow Americans by some of our best people; people who had dedicated themselves to serving our country.”
“Uncontrolled fear rots the mind and impairs the body.”
“Physical fitness mattered little without the mental fortitude to deal with fear.”
“Emerson once wrote that concentration is the secret of strength. You can’t chase two rabbits at once. And for men to perform overseas while their lives kept running at home, absolute concentration on the task at hand is essential.”
“One of the reasons the military can sometimes produce exceptional leaders is that military training clearly emphasized the most important leadership quality of all: setting the example.”
“For fear to take hold of you, it needs to be given room to run in your mind. As a leader, all the room in your mind is taken up by a focus on your men.”
“Once they let quitting become an option…….”
“This was not really “physical training” at all; it was spiritual training by physical means.”
“The men at BUD/S carried that same ambition; they wanted to make something meaningful of their lives. They wanted to leave a worthy name.”
“As Earl used to say, “Any fool can be violent.” Warriors are warriors not because of their strengths, but because of their ability to apply strength to good purpose.”
“The men who told the truth were able to move forward. Those who lied to themselves dragged their BUD/S experience with them like an anchor through the rest of their lives.”
“I know, generally, who won’t through Hell Week. There are a dozen types that fail.
The weightlifting meatheads who think the size of their biceps is an indication of their strength; they usually fail.
The kids covered in tattoos announcing to the world how tough they are; they usually fail
The preening leaders who don’t want to be dirty; they usually fail.
The me-first, look-at-me, I’m-the-best former athletes who have always been told that they are the stars and think they can master BUD/S like they mastered high school football tryouts; they usually fail.
The blowhards who have a thousand stories about what they are going to do, but a thin record of what they have actually done; they often fail.
The men who make excuses; they often fail.
The whiners, the “this is not fair” guys, the self-pitying criers; they usually fail.
The talkers who have always looked good, rather than actually being good, they usually fail.
In short, all the men who focus on show fail.
The vicious beauty of BUD/S is that there are no excuses, no explanations. You do, or do not.”
“They may not have saved the day. But they wanted, more than anything, to be there at their country’s critical hour.”
Thanks,world’s greatest living Hokey Pokey Warrior.
LTC (Ret) USA
I have become involved in a project, the project, to attempt to assemble a coalition of the concerned to begin to bring pressure to evaluating the process of government that has made the United States what it has become. This is an early letter written in that regard. It is self-explanatory
Doctor Larry P. Arnn
President, Hillsdale College
33 College Street
Hillsdale, MI 49242-9989
The date of this letter is appropriate to the celebration of Memorial Day.
I have become involved with a West Point classmate who is passionately concerned with the direction our government, our culture, is moving; and wants to do something about it. He is retired from the Army and worked thereafter as a senior manager in the Pentagon, where he made waves, and wants to continue to do so – for (in my opinion) the right reasons, and therefor I have joined in trying to help. That is what this is about. He, Pete Bahnsen by name, has developed an approach that he calls forming a national coalition (newsocialcontract.org) to attempt to address the problems we are facing, comprised of writers, institutes, think tanks, influential concerned people, who might be able and want to contribute . It is ambitious and is in its early stages, a recruitment stage, if you will. He is writing letters and I have been asked to help, and am doing so, a little at time as I develop within myself what I think is entailed and what is required. I have prepared lists of those to whom to write; he has started contacting leaders from within the ranks of institutes.
Pete has spent great effort in trying to put this together and has even published several editions of an on line book (Google) trying to define objectives and methodology. I have been a little skeptical – I am a skeptical person – because I wasn’t sure where it was going, or could go. He also calls it a revolution, and sees it as something necessarily outside of politics because a non political and non partisan approach seems the only hope to inject what is needed to move politicians, to bring disparate views together in a patriotic forum to forge recommendations to them that might allow them to move in the direction we know they need to move. He likens it to the kind of thing that brought the founders together and allowed to develop that which has brought us to where we are. I could expound on that, but could go on for a long time: I am becoming passionately concerned with the importance of the Constitution, checks and balances, and Federalism, and what I think they mean to us, and have been in his words corrupted. I see an opportunity to try and DO something and want to try.
We are frustrated with our government and the weakness of our economy; and culture for that matter; with which we associate it. In its defense, our government is frustrated too, for many reasons I shall not attempt to enumerate.
Many knowledgeable, talented, dedicated pundits, analysts – patriots – are concerned as well, and have been wrestling with this for some time, often at cross purposes. Peter Bahnsen is proposing a solution, which I am here privileged to be able to help offer. We are selecting those from the above pool to contact, by name, as a result of our respect for them and their work, sense of reality and willingness to tell it the way it is, to come together to help make a coordinated difference; Pete wants to try to initiate an effort to organize their views and suggestions into a virtual coalition for reform with that objective.
You might question his effort and why him? The answer to that, my opinion, goes back to the foundation of our nation, its government and how it was accomplished. We built it from the ground up, and it appears that it is time to attempt reform in the same manner. Much has changed since 1779, as is inevitable in our world, and to be expected. We all see the changes, but we don’t necessarily agree on how they should be addressed, which is quite natural. Pete’s coalition for reform, from among the above has that objective. He is not suggesting himself as leader, however, but as initiator; the leadership must come from within the coalition, and how that develops will depend also upon those who agree to become part of it to put together a proposal that can be agreed upon. A big challenge? Oh, yes. Is it doable? We think it is, with the right input, which, depends to a great extent upon the composition of the coalition, and who might be interested in becoming a part of it.
Pete worries that “increased violence against our corrupted government is not far from the surface” but even if that might sound a bit strong, there is clearly room for concern. And consider the term corrupted for what he means, not specifically illicit, but harmed by errors of alteration; there are many meanings of the word corruption.
Quoting from one of Pete’s letters sent out to generate interest, and, frankly, to initiate interest:
“The Major Question is “Does the United States Government Need Major Reform? But No —-; you don’t have to provide answers because all the foundations and writers each have their recommended solutions, as they – you – should. The key is asking the minimal question that might bring these disparate groups into a coalition for reform of our corrupted degenerate Republic.
By initiating a movement to get a select group from leadership of foundations, think tanks, as well as leaders and writers to come together in a reform coalition you will have forced some of the smartest and most concerned activist citizens to be pulled together in the same virtual room — together they could come to agree on the reforms needed. It was just such a disparate group with opposing opinions that gathered with George Washington in the first Constitutional Convention and managed to cement together a unique document far different from that which they individually envisaged. It may not end up being a second Constitutional Convention but it will lead to a reform that can correct the many problems facing our country today.
Your clarion call could really empower these activists on a real coalition for reform of our corrupted Republic that appears unable to do it without YOUR help.
You can do it. But Will you do it? “
So why am I writing to you about this? Well, one thing he asked of me is to spread the word, and in that interest I compiled a list of classmates that I thought would be potential candidates. I have done so and will be embarking upon contacting them, individually, with Pete’s support as he knows many better that I. In the meantime I thought closer to home and came up with a list of personal friends who I believe fit into this category and have connections, and sufficient influence to be able to contribute to such an effort, and have written letters to them.
So why am I writing this to you? And what am I asking?
Pete’s task, and he is well aware of it, it’s importance, and the challenge it presents, is to generate leadership from among the proposed coalition, and has written several letters to people like you, mostly institute and think tank presidents, trying to get their support with the objective of inspiring them to want to participate in a leadership roll. This, of course, is very ambitious.
Having done some research on these think tanks, institutes, I have, rather naively, I admit, come to understand just how vast and complicated is the power elite establishment of which it is comprised. More importantly I now realize just how interconnected and interdependent its elements are – and how dependent they are upon the support, particularly contractual, of the government and policies we are challenging, and want to see addressed. This is not intended to disparage, but to accept the difficult position that leaders in their positions are vis a vis the community they are supporting and trying to influence. How would I feel, I asked myself, if I were asked to provide leadership to a coalition that is likely to be critical. Not that many of these organizations have not been forthright in their own criticisms and in making alternate recommendations; I am certainly not questioning the motives of such as Cato, Heritage, AIG, and the like, and have great admiration for many who publish under their umbrellas. But is that different from participating in leadership? If so, then what?
One institution comes to mind, and it is led by Doctor Larry Arnn, the goal of which is to “restore constitutional government in America by educating a new generation of leaders…who have character and integrity , who know America’s history and who can defend the principles of limited government.” Sound familiar? Of course; I copied it from the 2014 Annual Fund Drive letter from Hillsdale, signed by you, and to which I am hereby responding with a small donation, not nearly what I would like to make, but which is within my capability to offer. The stated goal – and the degree to which you admirably meet it, for that matter – are clearly appreciated by both Pete and me, fans of Hillsdale and regular readers of Imprimis, for which we have great respect. We both know about defending principles; we have spent our careers doing it, including, but not limited to the conflict in Vietnam. But we also know about character and integrity as rules to live by; those are our rules. But further, we are both, as you, dedicated to the principles of limited government – as well as well versed in the history of our country, both academically and practically; we have been there and done that.
So all that notwithstanding, what am I specifically asking? I am not sure; nothing at the moment. I don’t know what comes next, and have conveyed that to Peter; he says, hold tight, it’s coming, but it will take time. I accept that. So I am just reaching out to you because I respect Hillsdale, value your product and trust your instincts; you are the kind of folks he needs – that the country needs, just now. I am excited by the prospect of being able to try and DO SOMETHING, and thought/hoped you might be too.
Is it possible that Doctor Larry Arnn could see his way to becoming interested?
Our nation, our republic, our very culture is under assault, from within and without. Though we have forgotten, this is not a new phenomenon; it has happened before, for many reasons, but in manners too similar. The fact we are addressing it now is neither unique nor surprising; we have no choice. Which is not to say that all nations, all cultures, do not deal routinely with continual challenges – crises – they do; it seems to be the way of man and of government. It needs to be addressed; it is being addressed, as are all such; but is it being addressed realistically and effectively?
A feeling among many is that it is not, and my colleague; Peter Bahnsen, former military officer, former Defense Department official, patriot, and one of the many concerned; has stood up and is attempting to precipitate action from outside the government, to to assist the governments, to influence the government, because, he feels, the government needs the assistance of the qualified concerned. His concept is being referred to as the coalition of the concerned, and aspires to gather together all the dedicated minds that can be gathered to help address the problems and potential solutions, together, much as the Constitutional Convention did many years ago, with patriots, citizens, a coalition of the concerned who would hammer out recommendations and bring pressure to do something.
And who wil be of this coalition? Writers, members of institutions, educators, anyone with wisdom and understanding that qualifies them to partake. The challenge Pete poses, and to which I am responding with a passion generated from both caring and being concerned, is a big one, but one I find very satisfying to be associated with. Much has happened to generate this latest crisis, and here is not the place to enumerate; let it suffice to say that we believe it is time once again, for the people, concerned people to make a contribution to causing it be be addressed before it is too late – that is, before the pain of correction develops much further.
Are there are such people? There are; they are many and diversified. They do not necessarily agree; they may not enthusiastically offer their services in such an endeavor; that is the immediate part of the challenge that we, a small, but growing band of Pete’s followers, have embarked upon. The first step is to identify those able to contribute; some of that has been done and more will follow. The next step is to make the case to them as to what has to be done, and solicit their support; this has also begun and from this we hope to generate both the enthusiasm and leadership from them that it will require. It is happening – slowly, but inexorably – but it is happening.
I am including it here because this website is me; and so, now, is the coalition of the concerned. Already, in my mind, the two are beginning to merge, and my thoughts with them; so what better, at least for me, than to bring them together here where I think and play. More details are provided in the next two postings, letters to Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Hillsdale College, an institution that teaches the principles of government that is our very success; and Dr. Eric Greitens, a very different kind, with interesting background and experience described in his book, The Heart and the Fist. Greitens is currently CEO of an organization called The Mission Continues. There are more, and more will follow, as the word spreads. Letters to them, presented in my next two posts, discuss both the Hillsdale Mission and Greitens, what he has done, and the mission he has set for himself, along with the reasoning behind Pete Bahnsen’s ambitious Coalition of the
I welcome you to join in, and see what we are attempting to do. We would appreciate your doing so and any assistance you might want to lend.
“We must allow the child from his earliest years perfect liberty in every respect – provided that … he does not interfere with the liberty of others.”
“Neglect of discipline is a greater evil than neglect of culture, for this least can be remedied later in life.
Essay, Emanuel Kant
“Reality is an illusion that occurs due to the lack of alcohol.”
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury.
From that time on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury,
with the results that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.
The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this
from bondage to spiritual faith;
from spiritual faith to great courage;
from courage to liberty;
from liberty to abundance;
from abundance to selfishness;
from selfishness to complacency;
from complacency to apathy;
from apathy to dependency;
from dependency back again to bondage.”
1801 collection of lectures, Sir Alex Fraser Tytler (1742-1813). Scottish jurist and historian, professor of Universal
History at Edinburgh University.
“It is not death or pain which is a fearful thing, but the fear of pain or death.”
Epictetus , Stoic philosopher
“Our intelligence being by no other way communicable to one another by a particular word, he who falsifies that
betrays public society.”
Essays by Montaigne
“In plain truth, lying is an accursed vice. We are not men, nor have other tie upon one another, but by our word.”
Essays by Montaigne
“Any, even unintentional, deviation from truth, does that much towards weakening the trustworthiness of human
assertion, which is not only the principle support of all present social wellbeing, but the insufficiency of which does
more than any other thing that can be named to keep back civilization, virtue, everything on which human happiness
on the largest scale depends.”
Utilitarianism, Its Meaning by John Stuart Mill.
“There can be no cynic without the ideals. A cynic is nothing more than a disappointed, disillusioned idealist.”
Email from Sally Lou Linker Lightfoot
“The main misfortune, the root of all the evil to come was the loss of confidence in the value of one’s own opinion.
People imagined that it was out of date to follow their won moral sense, that they must all sing in chorus, and live by
other people’s notions, notions that were being crammed down everybody’s throat.”
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Lord Acton, Letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 3 Apr 1887
“Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won.”
Despatch, 1815. Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington (1769-1852)
“It is like the person who loves corn and hates lima beans – he doesn’t know how to deal with succotash.”
The Arrogance of Power, J. William Fulbright
“Great civilizations die from suicide rather than murder.”
“The root of the problem with our popular culture is the degeneration of our elite culture, and the restoration of the
latter would soon have a powerful effect on the former.”
Wilfred M. McClay, “Out of Mortal Threat, an Opportunity” (National Review Magazine, May 14, 2007
“Character is a mystery of unfathomable depths, that defies all determinisms. We can guess at, but we cannot really
know, a person’s character until it is put to a real test…So only a challenge can reveal what is there, concealed in the
depths of character. Our character is elicited by life’s challenges, and is shaped and reshaped by our responses to
Wilfred M. McClay, “Out of Mortal Threat, an Opportunity” (National Review Magazine, May 14, 2007
“The challenges presented by Islamist terrorism are ones that confront us in the very places where we are confused
and irresolute, and force us to see that we have fallen into ways of thinking and living that we cannot and should not
Wilfred M. McClay, “Out of Mortal Threat, an Opportunity” (National Review Magazine, May 14, 2007
“Everybody, I hope, would agree that a school is a place where teaching and learning go on, steadily and
systematically. That is its function. Its purpose is something else: to remove ignorance. A school can do several other good things at the same time, but it has one purpose only: to remove ignorance. This distinction is important because these definitions serve as a standard by which to judge what is done and what is proposed in the name of schooling.”
(Jaques Barzun, What Is a School? and Trim the College! (Hudson Institute, American Academy for Liberal Education, and Council for Basic Education)
“Political Science majors…think you can make something happen if you wish hard enough. Engineers knew
Tom Clancy, Patriot Games.
“Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”
“Much has been written about…political philosophy of…young activists – perhaps too much, as there is a limit to the
amount of philosophically interesting material to be found in the heads of a loose assortment of idealistic but ill-
Noel Malcolm, Bosnia, A Short History
“There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”
“There is nothing more uncommon than common sense.”
Frank Lloyd Wright
“There’s no fool like an old fool – you can’t beat experience.”
“There’s only one me – and I’m stuck with him.”
Robert L. Stanfield
“Economic opportunities exist…only where order exists, and where people are sufficiently educated to seize them.”
George Will (article about Newark, New Jersey, June 2007)
Philo’s Four Virtues: “Wisdom, Self-control, Courage, Justice”
“Happiness is not an ideal of reason, but of imagination.” Immanuel Kant
“Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing can ever be made.” Immanuel Kant
“There is nothing more frightening than active ignorance.” Johan Wolfgang Göthe
“A few years ago, the great scholar Bernard Lewis warned, during the debate on withdrawal from Iraq, that America
risked being seen as ‘harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend.’ In Moscow and Tehran, on the one hand,
and Warsaw and Prague, on the other, they’re drawing their own conclusions.” Mark Steyn, 21 Sept 2009 essay
“Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the
second hand of a clock.” Ben Hecht (1893 – 1964)
“Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same
half.” Gore Vidal (1925 – )
“For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple — and wrong.” H.L. Mencken
“In America,” Oscar Wilde observed, “the young are always ready to give those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience.”
As has been said (Churchill), “Americans invariably do the right thing — after exhausting all the alternatives.”
Social critic Ambrose Bierce defined political personalities a century ago: The conservative, he said, is “enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.”
from Umberto Eco in 2005:
G K Chesterton is often credited with observing: “When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing. He believes in anything.” Whoever said it – he was right. We are supposed to live in a skeptical age. In fact, we live in an age of outrageous credulity.
Paul Greenburg (2012)
“It would take a sci-fi writer (like the concise and always entertaining Robert Heinlein) or a one-idea novelist (like the wordy and in the end boring Ayn Rand) to turn Schumpeter’s great idea into pulp fiction — to make it understandable, even romantic. Here is how Heinlein summed up both entrepreneurial capitalism and its less imaginative critics:
“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as ‘bad luck.’ “
“I have become convinced that movie people and politicians spring from the same DNA. They are both unpredictable, sometimes glamorous, usually in crisis (imagined or otherwise), addicted to power, anxious to please, always on stage, hooked on applause, enticed by publicity, always reading from scripts written by someone else, constantly taking the public pulse, never really certain, except publicly. Indeed, it’s difficult to say which deserves more the description of “entertainment capital of the world,” Hollywood or Washington, D.C.
I’ve never met an observer of contemporary politics who would deny any of this. However, the casting limit in Washington is eight years — and while we’re always assured there will be a new star eventually, there’s no telling quite when he or she will come along.”
Jack Valenti; aide to Lyndon Johnson and long time president of the Motion Picture Association of America
Quoted by Anthony Paletta, a writer living in Brooklyn.
“Never underestimate baby-boomer nostalgia, which is acute narcissism. The Twinkies melodrama has the boomers thinking — as usual, about themselves: If an 82-year-old brand can die, so can we. Is that even legal?” unknown
“The bow too intensely strung is easily broken.” Syrus, Maxim 388
“He bids fair to grow wise who has discovered he is not so.” Syrus, Maxim 598
“Let a fool hold his tongue and he will pass for a sage.” Syrus, Maxim 914
“There is no glory in outstripping donkeys.” Martial, On The Spectacles
“It was better, he thought, to fail in attempting exquisite things than to succeed in the department of te utterly contemptible.” Machin, Hall of Dreams
“Somebody said that it couldn’t be done, but he with a chuckle replied, that maybe it couldn’t, but he would be one who wouldn’t say so til he’d tried.” Guest, It Couldn’t Be Done
“The difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes a little longer.” Slogan of the U.S. Air Force
“He wrapped himself in quotations, as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of emperors. Kipling, Many Inventions
“More men are killed by overwork than the importance of the work justifies.” Kipling, The Phantom Rickshaw.
“Them that asks no questions isn’t told a lie.” Kipling, A Smuggler’s Song
“The silliest woman can manage a clever man; but it needs a very clever woman to manage a fool.”
Kipling, Plain Tales
“Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right, when wrong to be put right.” Schurry, Letter to Petrarch
“If you keep a thing for seven years you are sure to find a use for it.” Scott, Woodstock
“One hour of life, crowded to the full with glorious action and filled with noble risks is worth whole years of those mean observances of paltry decorum.” Scott, Count Robert of Paris
“They that govern the most make the least noise.” unknown, Table Talk
“A great pilot can sail even when his canvas is rent.” Seneca, Epistles
“This is the law of the Yukon, that only the strong shall thrive; that surely the weak will perish, and only the fit will survive.” Service, Law of the Yukon
“A promise made is a debt unpaid.” Service, Cremation of Sam McGee
“The most powerful weapon of ignorance – the diffusion of printed matter.” Tolstoy, War and Peace
“The temerity to believe in nothing.” Turgenev, Fathers and Sons
“”God looks after fools, drunkards and The United States. Unknown, Epigram
“Heroism, the Caucasian mountaineers sat, is endurance for one moment more.” Kennan, Letter
“The identification of old age with growing old must be avoided. Growing old is an emotion which comes over us at almost any age. I had it myself between the ages of 25 and 30.” E.M. Forster quoted in the New York Mirror