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Reed, some thoughts on feeling like a chump. As admirable as the U.S. military and those who serve in it are, it is an organization nonetheless. Organizations seek to protect themselves. They will often sacrifice the individual for what they imagine to be the greater organizational interest. Just because the military draws many idealistic people to it, that doesn't exempt it from human and organizational nature.

As you see from the captain, there are, indeed, other idealistic people in the military, despite the shortcomings. That's pretty much the way of the world. That's why we need a military, that's why we need honorable people, and that's why honorable people cannot count on being rewarded - even on not being wronged - for doing right. We don't do right in order to ensure we get what we think is coming to us - that's what tempts people to do wrong. We do right simply because it is right. That's what makes it honorable. Honor has to be its own reward, or it isn't honor. And that is also why those put their lives at risk for their fellows commit their lives with honor, because what they may get for it in the end is dead. Even if the world does them wrong, there will be people who know the truth and who will honor them for it. And even if no one knows in the end but the individual himself, that has to be enough, because that's the world, and that's honor.

To share a bond with others who think and feel the same way has to be a deep satisfaction that most people will not get to experience.


Reed, as a follow-up on my thoughts and the potential loneliness of the honorable, I thought I'd recommend the great Jean-Pierre Melville film about the French Resistance, *Army of Shadows*. If you're interested, you can read an article I wrote on the film at Bright Lights Film Journal: "Resistance, Rebellion, and Death" (http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/53/shadows.php)

The Viking

Thanks for some perspective, I hope I didn't come off as somebody who does good things with the expectation of being rewarded. My parents didn't raise me that way, although they did utilize Jewish guilt to make sure that if I don't do the right thing, it eats me alive until I correct myself. But like you said, there's the easy way and then there's the right way, and they're usually not the same.

I guess what makes it especially hard sometimes is that the Navy's moral code and my personal moral code greatly differ at times, but I have to adhere to the Navy's. Example: I have some underage friends, and though I never enable them to drink while I'm around, if I were to find out one of them had been drinking, the Navy's "right thing to do" would be to tell a supervisor. That gives me the moral dilemma of which "right" thing is the real "right" thing. Is ruining a friends career (even though they made a mistake, so in the Navy's eyes, they ruined their own career by breaking the law) the honorable thing? It certainly covers my ass... My navy training and my life experiences tell me different answers to that question, thankfully I don't put myself in a position to truly have to ask it to myself.


No, I didn't mean to suggest you came off that way at all. Sorry if I gave that impression. It's a bitter pill when the right things gets pissed on. That's why it helps to know the stories of others, in writing or films or personal accounts. We all need the reminder, and it's clear your parents didn't raise you that way. As for the Jewish guilt, just think of it as a cultural inheritance, less tasty than knishes, but longer lasting.

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