Searching for Success

True Adventure –

Posted on October 1, 2018. Filed under: Searching for Success |

This Guy has really seen Places –

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Body Language – What is Said n What is not Said …

Posted on July 11, 2018. Filed under: Personalities, Searching for Success |

Pictures Tell Volumes – but you Gotta Know How to Read Body Language –

Xi and Modi —-  High Ground vis a vis Low Ground

The Ghost of Wuhan Will Haunt India for Years

Note Xi’s Benign Happy Mission Accomlished  Smile. Also note position of his hands and feet. Note also the self effacing humility of his Interpreter.

Contrast this with Modi’s None too Happy Facial Tension. Similarly note position of Hands and Feet. His Interpreter is evidently insensitive or oblivious to all that is going on.

Xi and Trump —- Care n Caution vis a vis Grim Determination

After Trump's new tariff threat, China may either have to blink or widen the trade war

Note Xi’s Facial Caution which is confirmed by the position of his Thumbs and Hand.

Contrast this with Trump’s Face full of grim grim determination which is again underlined by the position of his thumbs which also show caution.

Learn the subtle art of Body Language and Know the difference between what is said and what is left unsaid…

And now Putin and Trump ………..

You've Heard the Hysteria About the Trump-Putin Summit. Now Consider the Facts.


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Love Story – Viet Nam War …

Posted on May 22, 2018. Filed under: Mars & Venus, Searching for Success |

“A Family Reunion,” by Repps Hudson –  a freelance writer and adjunct instructor of journalism and international affairs who lives in University City, Mo.

One day in March 1975, I was covering a story in the Kansas City Power and Light building for The Kansas City Star. But my mind was far away, in South Vietnam, which I knew from constant news reports was under siege as the North Vietnam Army launched its final assault to topple the South Vietnamese regime.


Maps on the evening news showed the northern provinces of South Vietnam turning red as Hanoi’s hardcore troops moved south, rolling through the country that more than 58,000 Americans had died to defend.


I had become so depressed from that drumbeat of news that I walked out onto the fire escape 20-some stories above the Kansas City streets and took a long look over the rail before backing away and deciding to seek psychiatric help.


My worries were personal: My 25-year-old wife, Le thi Nhung, six months pregnant with our first (and only) child, had left Kansas City in October 1974 to return to her family in Vietnam, north of Saigon in Binh Duong Province.


Our marriage was in so much trouble we could not seem to resolve it. The cultural misunderstandings between us were enormous. In great sadness, she had boarded a plane for the West Coast, then on to Saigon, vowing never to return.


We hadn’t agreed to divorce, just to live half a world apart. We hadn’t decided what would happen when it was time for her to give birth in June.


We had met when I was a 21-year-old second lieutenant with the First Infantry Division at our base camp at Lai Khe, on Highway 13, which ran from Saigon north to the Cambodian border. The climate around Lai Khe was unusually cool, and it was one of the best bases in South Vietnam. It was in an old French rubber plantation and had a Vietnamese village inside the perimeter wire.


Nhung was from that village. Her father, a supporter of the South Vietnamese government, had been kidnapped and murdered in the early 1960s by the Vietcong, she believed. She was clearly on the side of the Americans. She  worked in the officers and noncommissioned officers club in our company area. She could speak English and was stunning in her form-fitting ao dai.


Far from my home in a farming community near Kansas City, I was taken by her almost instantly. We talked often, whenever my rifle company was back from operations up and down Highway 13, known to us G.I.s as Thunder Road.


In September 1968, I rotated back to the States and left Nhung behind. I was assigned to the Sixth Army Reserve Headquarters in Seattle. From there, I wrote her constantly, but she did not reply. She told me later she was afraid of being  hurt. But I was determined. When my two-year active-duty commitment was over, I flew to Saigon so we could marry.


While we waited on her passport and visa, I landed a job as an office boy at The Associated Press in downtown Saigon and worked alongside such stars of the bureau as Peter Arnett, Horst Faas, Nick Ut, Dick Pyle, George McArthur and George Esper. This was how I happened to be working for The Star when South Vietnam was about to fall in spring 1975.


By the time Nhung was with her family and I out of touch with her (phone calls were impossible, and there was no internet), I was a city desk reporter.


I could not keep my mind on my work, since my wife was in a war zone, pregnant with our child. My parents, who lived on our family farm near Norborne, Mo., 75 miles northeast of Kansas City, were likewise frantically worried about Nhung; the future of their unborn grandchild was at risk. What if the Communists took over, sealed the borders and punished anyone, like Nhung, who was sympathetic to the Saigon government?


We tried everything to reach her. My mother, eyes constantly on TV reports, would see a young woman from behind and believe that was her daughter-in-law. She cried and prayed so much through late March and early April.


Finally, my mother wrote to George Esper, a good-hearted man who helped to send many Vietnamese abroad in the final days because they had worked for Americans and, he believed, were vulnerable.


Being farmers, my parents had little money. As a junior reporter, I too had little. Still, somehow my parents managed to send several thousand dollars to Nhung so she could pay the necessary bribes and buy a one-way ticket to the States.


I was at the farm Friday evening, April 11 – just 19 days before Saigon fell –  upstairs in my bedroom when the phone rang downstairs. My mother answered it and began crying. I could hear her shouting at me. She was so happy. She yelled upstairs: “She’s back in the United States. She’s coming home.”


After Nhung arrived at the farm, The Star sent a reporter and a photographer to write a story about one of the early refugees from the last days of that long war. I remember what Nhung said: “Human life in Vietnam is not worth more than an ant.”


Our daughter was born in early June. It was a normal delivery.

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Contact n Connection …

Posted on May 18, 2018. Filed under: Guide Posts, Searching for Success |

Contact and Connection –

Journalist to the Monk – “Jogajog &  Sanjog: Contact and Connection – Please elucidate?”
The Monk always smiling, asks – “Are you from the North?” 
The Journalist, “Yes”.
Monk – “Who all are at home?” 
The Journalist – “Mother has expired. Father is there. Three brothers and one sister. All married.”
The Monk, always smiling, “Do you talk to your father?- When did you talk to him last?”
The Journalist, “May be a month back.”
The Monk:  “Do you brothers and sisters meet often ? When did you last meet as a family?”
Journalist, “We met last – two years ago.”
Monk: “How many days did you all stay together?
Journalist, “Three days”

Monk: “How much time did you  spend with your Father, sitting beside him ?” 

Did you ask how he was? Did you ask how his days are passing after your mother’s death ?”
Journalist is quiet.
The Monk:  “Did you eat together ? 
The Journalist’s eyes show sadness..
The Monk places his hand on the journalist’s hand and says – 
 “Don’t be sad. I am sorry if I have hurt you unknowingly.
But this is basically the answer to your question about “contact and connection jogajog and Sanjog..
‘You have ‘contact’  with your father but you don’t have ‘connection’ with him. You are not connected to him.
‘Connection is between heart and heart… sitting together , sharing meals , caring, hugging each other.
Touch – shaking hands, eye contact,  spending time together.
‘You  brothers and sisters have ‘contact’ but you have no  ‘connection’ with each other.”
This is modern reality. 
Whether at home, in family, in society and every which where we have
lots and lots of contact but there is no connection. No personal communication.
Everybody is in her or in his own World. a his or her own world.
 Let’s not just have ‘contact’. Rather let’s be well “connected” …… caring , sharing , touching , hugging , spending time together with our near and dear and other like minded in our Life’s Journey.
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Movie Three Idiots – The Army …

Posted on May 15, 2018. Filed under: Searching for Success |

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Note on Artificial Intelligence …

Posted on May 9, 2018. Filed under: Searching for Success |

EXPERTS warn that “the substitution of machinery for human labour” may “render the population redundant”.

They worry that “the discovery of this mighty power” has come “before we knew how to employ it rightly”. Such fears are expressed today by those who worry that advances in artificial intelligence (AI) could destroy millions of jobs and pose a “Terminator”-style threat to humanity.

But these are in fact the words of commentators discussing mechanisation and steam power two centuries ago. Back then the controversy over the dangers posed by machines was known as the “machinery question”. Now a very similar debate is under way.

After many false dawns, AI has made extraordinary progress in the past few years, thanks to a versatile technique called “deep learning”. Given enough data, large (or “deep”) neural networks, modelled on the brain’s architecture, can be trained to do all kinds of things.

They power Google’s search engine, Facebook’s automatic photo tagging, Apple’s voice assistant, Amazon’s shopping recommendations and Tesla’s self-driving cars.

But this rapid progress has also led to concerns about safety and job losses. Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and others wonder whether AI could get out of control, precipitating a sci-fi conflict between people and machines.

Others worry that AI will cause widespread unemployment, by automating cognitive tasks that could previously be done only by people. After 200 years, the machinery question is back. It needs to be answered.

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Modern Version of Braille…

Posted on April 24, 2018. Filed under: Personalities, Searching for Success |

Learning to read and write was a challenge for Louis Braille. While many kids struggle to read, Braille was blinded at the age of three by an infection following an accident in his father’s leathering workshop. Unable to see words on the page, his best chance at literacy was at his fingertips—literally.

Frustrated by existing communication options (most blind people used the Haüy system, where Latin letters were embossed in paper), Braille set about developing his own tactile writing system when he was still a child. By the age of 15, he’d created a simple, efficient system of dots and spaces contained in compact cells that allowed a reader to comprehend each letter in a single touch.

Since its creation in 1829, braille has remained the predominant tactile communication system in the world. It’s been modified for dozens of languages and allowed countless people to read and write. But braille, which is read by fewer than 10 percent of blind or visually impaired people, is far from perfect. That’s why, almost 200 years after braille was created, Andrew Chepaitis decided to disrupt it.


The top row shows a standard alphabet. The middle row shows ELIA. And the bottom row depicts braille.


Chepaitis is the president and CEO of ELIA. For almost 20 years, he and his colleagues have been developing a new tactile learning system that was more intuitive and accessible than braille.

“The reason Braille used dots was because the easiest way to create a tactile alphabet was to take the point of a pen and push into a piece of paper,” says Chepaitis. “That was great. That was a revolution.” But, he argues, technology has advanced beyond pen and paper, so tactile fonts should, too.

Chepaitis has thrown out braille’s dots in favor of a system of raised symbols form from curved and straight lines. Whereas braille was loosely based on a military code, ELIA mimics the shape of typical English characters wherever possible. An ELIA C looks almost identical to the C seen in the standard alphabet, except the ELIA C rises above the paper. But for a letter like W, which a tactile reader could trace in many directions (is it a V? Two Vs? One W?), ELIA has completely transformed the character. In the ELIA system, a W is a small box with a triangle wedge at the bottom, essentially a simplification of the switchback in a standard W.

After six years of sustained research on 175,000 participants, ELIA launched its Kickstarter campaign on April 18 to bring attention to their work and raise funds to produce its tactile reading frames. The company also announced it would release a customized HP Inkjet printer for ELIA fonts this fall.. A specialized HP Inkjet printer, the machine stimulates a chemical reaction that puffs up the paper in all the right places, allowing a blind reader to feel the letters on the page. With this new technology, Chepaitis hopes to rectify a number of the problems he sees with existing tactile codes.

While thousands of people say braille has changed their lives, on a purely statistical level, the code’s impact has been rather limited. Of the 8.4 million people in the United States with a visual impairment, only about 100,000 read braille. Those who are literate in braille are more likely to graduate high school and to secure employment. But the rest of the population continues to struggle.“Most of those who read braille were born blind,” Chepaitis says, “while 99 percent of people who are blind lose their vision later in life.”

Unfortunately, it’s harder to learn braille later. The National Federation of the Blind offers courses on braille and other tools for the visually impaired. Each course lasts six to nine months. In that time, the federation says, most people become comfortable using braille in their everyday life, but some will continue to struggle with speed and comprehension. And some never learn braille at all.

By building on the standard alphabet, ELIA hopes to meet people who go blind later in life where they’re at. “For them, they’ve invested years in learning the normal alphabet,” Chepaitis says. But the ELIA team has implemented other innovations in the hopes of making their alphabet easier to use, too. ELIA’s font is bigger than standard braille, because the company’s research suggested enhancing the size of the font even by a few millimeters increases reading speeds. The space between each letter is also expanded, again for clarity. These changes mean that, unlike braille, ELIA letters cannot always be read in a single swipe of the finger. But the company says that shouldn’t be a hindrance: the new tactile reading system can be learned in as little as three hours.


ELIA emerging from a specialized printer.


For all the sweat, tears, and special ink that have gone into ELIA, the system’s success isn’t guaranteed. “I’m not going to sugarcoat it: We are braille advocates in the National Federation of the Blind,” says Chris Danielsen, the federation’s director of public relations. While he thinks ELIA may prove helpful to some individuals, Danielsen remains skeptical of efforts to replace braille. ELIA argues its larger fonts and spacing are better for reading comprehension, but Danielsen contends one of braille’s best attributes is that each letter can be determined in a single touch.

There’s also the matter of accessibility when it comes to writing. Right now, people who rely on braille have roughly three options. They can write with an inexpensive stylus, which the federation sells them for just $10 a pop; lug around a six-keyed “brailler”, which is essentially a tactile typewriter; or invest in a specialized printer. ELIA’s own system is a specialized HP Inkjet printer, which debuts later this year. While Chepaitis is excited about the breakthrough design, Danielsen is worried about the price. A $10 stylus is more cost-effective than an inkjet printer, which currently retails around $200 in its standard form.

“I can only expect—and respect—people who disagree with us and argue this is not a worthwhile endeavor,” Chepaitis says. Still, he continues to believe ELIA’s potential for good dramatically outweighs the negatives. Chepaitis intends for the ELIA system will increase accessibility and reading speeds among users. He also hopes the printer, which took years of development on its own, to improve tactile photo printing. While braille can communicate some of the contours of an image, like the details of a map, ELIA’s puff ink may have more success. If all goes well kids with visual impairments wouldn’t just read the words in their textbooks—they’d get to feel charts, diagrams, and illustrations.

Most of all, Chepaitis sees ELIA as a way of bringing families together. Even if a person with severe visual impairments learns braille, their sighted family members continue to struggle to learn and communicate with them. Because ELIA is based on a standard English alphabet, it can be read both with the fingers and with the eyes. As a result, the company says it’s even easier for sighted people to learn than for the visually impaired. “[If] your mom is losing her vision, and she puts the labels on her canned goods, you can read them, too,” Chepaitis says.


A tactile ELIA skin on top of a standard keyboard.


Whatever becomes of ELIA, one thing seems certain: Braille probably wouldn’t have minded the friendly competition. He once said, “Access to communication in the widest sense is access to knowledge.” For all the resistance it’s received, ELIA is nothing if not a widening of the communication options for the blind and visually impaired.

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Indian Army’s Culture of Excellence …

Posted on April 20, 2018. Filed under: Regimental, Searching for Success |

Despite the ongoing degradation of he Military (read Articles with this heading, in this Blog), there is  the Indian Army’s Culture of Excellence & Integrity – as this small incident highlights –

Three units of the Bombay Sappers of the Indian Army were deployed to construct three, foot over – bridges (FOB) at Elphinstone Road, Mumbai in early 2018. Highlights of the construction of the three bridges are as follows:

  1. The Army completed the three bridges within three months.
  2. Three months include planning, design, tendering, material procurement and meeting all statutory requirements of the Indian Railways.
  3. Work was done only during early mornings from 1 AM to 4 AM breaking the biological clock for the entire 3 months.
  4. The Railways gave no special shut downs as is their practice for all their own works.
  5. The Army did not cut corners in any procedures such as tendering, selection of contractors​, material testing by laboratories authorised by the Railways. There were no deviations from any norms, quality and standard procedures although working under time constraints.
  6. The Army also carried out acquisition of a small piece of land for a staircase adopting standard government procedures.
  7. There were no under the table dealings. Hence, all work was done in the shortest possible time in the face of unhappiness on the part of the Railways who were miffed that the job was snatched away from them.
  8. The Railways did not provide local train passes to the Jawans who commuted daily from their base to site. The Railways agreed to reimburse individually knowing full well that the Army personnel would go back to their units after completing the work.

The Indian Army Engineers (The Bombay Sappers) displayed exemplary organisational capacity, integrated teamwork, very high standard of integrity both professional and moral and leadership par excellence.

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What the Army in Kashmir Thinks …

Posted on April 18, 2018. Filed under: American Thinkers, Personalities, Searching for Success, Uncategorized |

This NYT Article by Phil Klay, a Marine Corps Vet, fully applies to the Indian Army in Kashmir and the NE – 
“We’re at war while the Nation is at the Mall.”

I’m not sure when I first heard this in Iraq, but even back in 2007 it was already a well-worn phrase, the logical counterpart to George W. Bush’s arguing after the Sept. 11 attacks that we must not let the terrorists frighten us to the point “where people don’t shop.”

Marines had probably started saying it as early as 2002. “We’re at war while America is at the mall,” some lance corporal muttered to another as they shivered against the winds rushing down the valleys in the Hindu Kush. “We’re at war while America is at the mall,” some prematurely embittered lieutenant told his platoon sergeant as they drove up to Nasiriyah in a light armored vehicle.

Whatever the case, when I heard it, it sounded right. Just enough truth mixed with self-aggrandizement to appeal to a man in his early 20s. Back home was shopping malls and strip clubs.

Over here was death and violence and hope and despair. Back home was fast food and high-fructose corn syrup. Over here, we had bodies flooding the rivers of Iraq until people claimed it changed the taste of the fish. Back home they had aisles filled wall to wall with toothpaste, shaving cream, deodorant and body spray. Over here, sweating under the desert sun, we smelled terrible. We were at war, they were at the mall.

The old phrase popped back into my head recently while I was shopping for baby onesies on Long Island — specifically, in the discount section on the second floor of the Buy Buy Baby. Yes, I was at the mall, and America was still at war.

There’s something bizarre about being a veteran of a war that doesn’t end, in a country that doesn’t pay attention. At this point, I’ve been out of the military far longer than I was in, and the weight I place on the value of military life versus civilian life has shifted radically. On the one hand, I haven’t lost my certainty that Americans should be paying more attention to our wars and that our lack of attention truly does cost lives.

“We’ve claimed war-weariness, or ‘America First,’ and turned a blind eye to the slaughter of 500,000 people and suffering of millions more,” the former Marine Mackenzie Wolf pointed out in a March essay on America’s unconscionable lack of action in Syria up to that point.

On the other hand, I’m increasingly convinced that my youthful contempt for the civilians back home was not just misplaced, but obscene and, frankly, part of the problem.

After four United States soldiers assigned to the Army’s Third Special Forces Group were killed in an ambush in Niger, the American public had a lot of questions. Why were they in combat in Niger? What was their mission? How do you pronounce “Niger”?

Answering these questions would have required a complex, sustained discussion about how America projects force around the world, about expanding the use of Special Operations forces to 149 countries, and about whether we are providing those troops with well-thought-out missions and the resources to achieve them in the service of a sound and worthwhile national security strategy.

And since our troops were in Niger in a continuation of an Obama administration policy that began in 2013, it also would have meant discussing the way that administration ramped up “supervise, train and assist” missions in Africa, how it often tried to blur the line between advisory and combat missions to avoid public scrutiny, and how the Trump administration appears to have followed in those footsteps. It would have required, at a bare minimum, not using the deaths as material for neat, partisan parables.

Naturally, we didn’t have that conversation. Instead, a Democratic congresswoman who heard the president’s phone call to the widow of one of the fallen soldiers informed the news media that Mr. Trump had ineptly told the grieving woman that her husband “knew what he signed up for.”

Quickly, Americans shifted from a discussion of policy to a symbolic battle over which side, Democratic or Republican, wasn’t respecting soldiers enough. Had the president disrespected the troops with his comment? Had Democrats disrespected the troops by trying to use a condolence call for political leverage? Someone clearly had run afoul of an odd form of political correctness, “patriotic correctness.”

Since, as recent history has shown us, violating the rules of patriotic correctness is a far worse sin in the eyes of the American public than sending soldiers to die uselessly, the political battle became intense, and the White House was forced to respond. And since in a symbolic debate of this kind nothing is better than an old soldier, the retired Marine general and current chief of staff, John Kelly, was trotted out in an Oct. 19 news conference to defend the president.

He began powerfully enough, describing what happens to the bodies of soldiers killed overseas, and bringing up his own still painful memories of the loss of his son, who died in Afghanistan in 2010. He spoke with pride of the men and women in uniform.

But then, in an all too common move, he transitioned to expressing contempt for the civilian world. He complained that nothing seemed to be sacred in America anymore, not women, not religion, not even “the dignity of life.”

He told the audience that service members volunteer even though “there’s nothing in our country anymore that seems to suggest that selfless service to the nation is not only appropriate, but required.” He said veterans feel “a little bit sorry” for civilians who don’t know the joys of service.

To cap things off, he took questions only from reporters who knew families who had lost loved ones overseas. The rest of the journalists, and by extension the rest of the American public who don’t know any Gold Star families, were effectively told they had no place in the debate.

Such disdain for those who haven’t served and yet dare to have opinions about military matters is nothing new for Mr. Kelly. In a 2010 speech after the death of his son, Mr. Kelly improbably claimed that we were winning in Afghanistan, but that “you wouldn’t know it because successes go unreported” by members of the “‘know it all’ chattering class” who “always seem to know better, but have never themselves been in the arena.”

And he argued that to oppose the war, which our current secretary of defense last year testified to Congress we were not winning, meant “slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to the nation.”

This is a common attitude among a significant faction of veterans. As one former member of the Special Forces put it in a social media post responding to the liberal outcry over the deaths in Niger, “We did what we did so that you can be free to naïvely judge us, complain about the manner in which we kept you safe” and “just all around live your worthless sponge lives.” 

His commentary, which was liked and shared thousands of times, is just a more embittered form of the sentiment I indulged in as a young lieutenant in Iraq.

It can be comforting to reverse the feelings of hopelessness and futility that come with fighting seemingly interminable, strategically dubious wars by enforcing a hierarchy of citizenship that puts the veteran and those close to him on top, and everyone else far, far below.

But John Kelly’s contempt for modern civilian life wasn’t a pep talk voiced in a Humvee traveling down an Iraqi highway, or at a veterans’ reunion in a local bar. He was speaking to the American people, with the authority of a retired general, on behalf of the president of the United States of America. And he was letting us know our place.

Those with questions about military policy are being put in their place more and more often these days. When reporters later asked the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, about some of Mr. Kelly’s claims, which had proved false, she said, “If you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that’s highly inappropriate.”

It was an echo of the way Sean Spicer tried to short-circuit debate about the death of a Navy SEAL in Yemen by claiming that anyone who questioned the success of the raid “owes an apology” to the fallen SEAL.

Serious discussion of foreign policy and the military’s role within it is often prohibited by this patriotic correctness. Yet, if I have authority to speak about our military policy it’s because I’m a citizen responsible for participating in self-governance, not because I belonged to a warrior caste.

If what I say deserves to be taken seriously, it’s because I’ve taken the time out of my worthless sponge life as a concerned American civilian to form a worthy opinion. Which means that although it is my patriotic duty to afford men like John Kelly respect for his service, and for the grief he has endured as the father of a son who died for our country, that is not where my responsibility as a citizen ends.

I must also assume that our military policy is of direct concern to me, personally. And if a military man tries to leverage the authority and respect he is afforded to voice contempt for a vast majority of Americans, if he tries to stifle their exercise of self-governance by telling them that to question the military strategy of our generals and our political leaders is a slight to our troops, it’s my patriotic duty to tell him to go pound sand.

If we don’t do this, we risk our country slipping further into the practice of a fraudulent form of American patriotism, where “soldiers” are sacred, the work of actual soldiering is ignored and the pageantry of military worship sucks energy away from the obligations of citizenship.

I understand why politicians and writers and institutions choose to employ the trope of veterans when it comes to arguing for their causes. Support for our military remains high at a time when respect for almost every other institution is perilously low, so pushing a military angle as a wedge makes a certain kind of sense. But our peacetime institutions are not justified by how they intermittently intersect with national security concerns — it’s the other way around.

Our military is justified only by the civic life and values it exists to defend. This is why George Washington, in his Farewell Orders to the Continental Army, told his troops to “carry with them into civil society the most conciliating dispositions” and “prove themselves not less virtuous and useful as citizens than they have been persevering and victorious as soldiers.”

Besides, let’s not pretend that living a civilian life — and living it well — isn’t hard. A friend of mine, an officer in the Army Reserves, told me that one of his greatest leadership challenges came not overseas, but when a deployment to Afghanistan got canceled and his men were called to the difficult and often tedious work of being husbands, fathers, members of a community.

My wife and I are raising two sons — the older one is 2 years old, the little one 6 months. And as we follow our national politics with occasional disgust, amusement, horror and hope, we regularly talk about the sort of qualities we want to impress upon our boys so they can be good citizens, and how we can help cultivate in them a sense of service, of gratitude for the blessings they have, and a desire to give back.

It’s a daunting responsibility. Right now, though, the day-to-day work of raising these kids doesn’t involve a lot of lofty rhetoric about service. It involves drool, diapers and doing the laundry. For me, it means being that most remarkable, and somehow most unremarkable of things — a dad.

Which is how I found myself that day, less a Marine veteran than a father, shopping with the other parents at Buy Buy Baby, recalling that old saying, “We’re at war while America is at the mall.” I wondered about the anonymous grunt poet who coined it. Whoever he was, there’s a good chance that even by the time I heard it, he’d already done his four years and gotten out.

Maybe he’d left the Corps, settled into civilian life. Maybe he was in school. Perhaps he was working as a schoolteacher, or as a much-derided civil servant in some corner of our government. Perhaps he found that work more satisfying, more hopeful and of more obvious benefit to his country than the work he’d done in our mismanaged wars.

Or perhaps, if he was as lucky as I have been, he was in some other mall doing exactly what I was — trying to figure out the difference between 6M and 3-6M baby onesies. If so, I wish him well.

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Plastic Problem Solved …

Posted on April 18, 2018. Filed under: Searching for Success |

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