Friday, May 29, 2009

I'm Going To Pick A Fight

One of my favorite movie quotes occurs in Braveheart, when William Wallace is asked by his good friend Hamish Campbell where he's going. "I'm going to pick a fight" he says in his thick Scottish accent as he rides off to provoke British Lords into a battle that he inevitably wins.
That, I think, is how we are to approach certain issues in our lives. Rather than be passive and wait for something to happen to us, we are to take charge and do what we think is right, no matter the consequences.
My personal experiences are almost the exact opposite from Wade, as my unwillingness to fight in those same instances have been some of my greatest regrets. Frankly, I didn't really care where I went to college, I just wanted to play baseball. So, I settled for whatever school offered me a chance to play. While I don't look at going to CNC as a bad thing (especially since that's where I met my wife), I have always wondered if I could have played Division I, or gone to a school with a better program. My passivity in trying to get a starting position on the team led me to transfer to a school that I didn't really have to fight for a position, it was mine to lose.
When determining where to go to graduate school, I just went with whatever school would accept me. Thankfully UTK was willing to let me in because I seriously doubt any other school would admit someone with my academic stature (or lack thereof). Once again, I don't look at this as a mistake, but I will forever wonder what could have been. When informed that I would be going into the Army's Ordnance Corps (which at the time I knew nothing about) rather than the Intelligence field I hoped for, I grudgingly accepted without even trying to seek a branch transfer.
Unfortunately, I can list off about a dozen other instances in my life where I just accepted my fate and moved on. My only explanation at the time was that if God wanted me anywhere else, he would've put me there. Man, was I stupid! You see, I was UNWILLING to fight. Rather than try to pursue an opportunity, I sat back hoping and praying that God's will would be in line with my own, when each time he might have been testing me to see if I REALLY wanted it. This pattern of reluctance is partly due to my habitual lack of self-confidence; but each time I was paralyzed by the innate passivity all men inherited from Adam when he failed to take charge of his family and overcome the temptation of Satan in the Garden. To think that man doesn't have to fight for practically EVERYTHING in life is one of the Devil's greatest deceptions.
It's been said that if you don't have to fight for it, then it's not worth having. Maybe that should be your standard for determining what you really want in life. I know that's how I'm trying to live my life now. I'll elaborate more in the next chapter, where the notion of raising the Warrior has resonated with me.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ch. 8: The Warrior

To use a golf analogy, we've "made the turn" on this study and since Wade's been taking the lead on each week's chapter, I think it's time I start "teeing off" first. So, I'm going to try to be the first one to post my thoughts on the reading and allow my counterpart to supplement the discussion with his musings.
If I were a betting man, I would throw down a hefty sum on the notion that every man wants to be a Warrior...or at least be seen as a Warrior. It's practically huMAN nature for a dude to fight in honor of something, whether it be his own personal pride or, dare I say, the common good for all mankind. Eldredge (and I) view this as an inherent trait that everyone possesses; yet we all exude it differently and on various levels. Both Christians and non-Christians fight, and I would submit to you that man fights either for himself or for Him.
Motives behind man's desire to fight are plentiful, and some fruitful; but his inability to act on those instincts can be crippling and take a devastating toll on every aspect of his life. Some were (to use Eldredge's oft-quoted term) emasculated by their father, older brother, grade school bully, or even a friend; however, each man made the conscious decision to quit fighting back and become habitually passive. THIS, it could be argued, has led to the degradation of Christian Warriors.
I view this chapter as a soberin gut-check because all it's asking the reader is the following:
What in your life is worth fighting for? Is it your career, marriage, family, integrity, personal legacy? Frankly, how you answer this question determines, not only your priorities in life, but the true state of your heart and soul. Are you fighting for you or for Him?
More to follow.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Train To Fight or Fight To Train???

When I originally started this blog, my intent was to publish some "insider" information about life in the Army. Throughout my deployment to Iraq, I consistently posted about my experiences in theatre, and even though I am back in the States and participating in (what I think is) a great discussion on being a man with my good friend Wade, I think I should still post about my tenure in the service.
Since my return to Fort Campbell, several people have asked me what I'm currently doing on a daily basis. It's pretty simple...we're training for our next deployment. What this entails though is a complicated process of replenishing our ranks with new personnel. About every 3 or so years, soldiers move on to different stations across the country and around the world, while others start making their way to Fort Campbell. Some will come from another duty station, while others are coming straight out of Boot camp and job schools. So, we have to train these new Soldiers how to fight the way WE fight. This consists of both classroom and on the job training (OJT).
However, without a doubt the WORST part of being back in the States is the paperwork/regulation abiding/planning/busy work we do every day. You see, the Army has to justify the massive amounts of money it receives from taxpayers, so its leaders make up all these requirements for us to do to fill time at work. Moreover, just like every other organization (both civilian and government) we have to abide by federal, state and local regulations. This is the kind of stuff that can drive a sane man crazy (present company included), and there's no way we officers can both plan AND train. I haven't picked up a weapon since I got back from Iraq; I stand around and watch people just to tell them what they're doing wrong; and I attend more meetings in one week that most people attend in a month!
So, for those of you who think those recruiting commercials on television represent just a normal day at the office....not so much!
Take care.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ch. 7: Sam's Year

Where have all the initiators gone???
I hate to say it, but Wade's got a point. He's managed to pinpoint an historical right of passage that has become exactly that...history!
In an attempt to discern the various reasons for this dissipation, I think the greatest contributing factor is the modernization of civilization. Our ability to provide the basic necessities to sustain life has become much easier over the past 100 years and, as Wade mentioned, acquiring those goods have always been the primary role of men. The natural progression of this world has opened up a wealth of options for man to provide for his family without having to obtain it directly. I don't have to milk a cow, build a house, or chop wood anymore, since someone else can do it for me. There are more technical trades now than before, so man can learn a skill (or set of skills) with little effort or practice. Also, increased educational opportunities have contributed significantly to this evolutionary process.
In regards to Wade's discussion of the "group", Eldredge goes to great lengths (I think) to emphasize the importance of showing the strength that is found in the men that make up the group. Man can do a lot by himself, but without the help of his predecessors (i.e. their guidance, support, encouragement) he is less likely to excel. That's what Eldredege was trying to show his son Sam. He can't become a man by himself. It has to be done through the relationships with men, through MENtorship.
I've been part of clubs, organizations, cliques and the like. As a freshman and sophomore, I learned through observing juniors and seniors. Moreover, I took on more responsibility only when it was given to me by someone older and more experienced than myself.
In sum, I'd like to answer Wade's question with a question: Is initiation into manhood a thing of the past, or has it simply manifested itself in different ways that reflect modernity?