“…We’d do the same thing if some foreign dudes rolled into San Diego and set up shop.
— A Marine officer in Fallujah
“I also started thinking that the insurgents sure didn’t look like terrorists from my vantage point on the truck. They didn’t seem like radicals or hard-core fighters. They were people shooting from their bedrooms, their prayer rooms, their rice paddies and their mosques. They were people defending their land.”
— NY Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman
“If an Iraqi division was rolling up I-85 through Greensboro on its way to overthrow some hypothetical despot in Washington, I’d like to think I’d have the wherewithal to pick a couple of the bastards off along the way.”
— Ed Cone, a peace-loving journalist
“Jerry, just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s worth doing!”
— Lt. Britt Blaser to Lt. Jerry Iverson, 1967
When I was a 24-year-old Lieutenant hauling guns and butter around Vietnam in C-130s in October, 1967, my fiancée was demonstrating for peace in Washington, DC. Between the two of us, I felt we were getting it about right. We saw our higher purpose not as assembling a bundle of illusory reinforcements for a narrow point of view, but rather to do what needed doing, competently, while understanding our context, competently.
Or, as Tom Wolfe related in The Right Stuff: “Shut up and die like an aviator.” He was quoting an experienced Naval aviator advising a young pilot to stop yelling about the MIG on his Six and to start doing what he’d been trained to do.
The common thread in these anecdotes is that, if there is such a thing as right action, it places a demand on your resources whether or not your intellect or your gut buys into it. That is the essence of trusting your instruments rather than your inner ear. It also suggests that, when you must do things that seem threatening to your survival, it’s OK to keep your perspective.
In fact, it will improve your odds of survival.
[I penned this last night without the benefit of Ed Cone’s similar post. Honest.]