I want to begin this post by stating categorically that I have the utmost respect for the members Australia’s military that serve our nation so well and so selflessly. I have the same level of respect for members of police forces, ambulance services, fire services, and the whole gamut of our fellow citizens who serve the community in paid or unpaid ways. They are a credit to themselves and to the nation.
That being said, however, the article from The New York Times below caught my attention in the midst of my Sunday morning, to the point where I thought it was worthy of being shared that others might also reflect upon it. Had it not been written by a military veteran it might be easily dismissed as uninformed; that it was a military veteran who penned it, means we should take note of what is written there.
The ability to comment upon, and disagree with, foreign policy and military deployments cannot be limited only to those who have served, which, if I read the article correctly, is what some within contemporary American society would argue for. The ability to engage in civil discourse is likewise not dependent upon military service. The kind of disdain for ‘civil society’ referred to in the article from those who are serving or who have served is problematic in that we do not live in a military-centric society but rather a civil society in which the military play an important but not central role.
Although written from a distinctly American perspective, which no doubt provides a particular setting for the phenomenon of “patriotic correctness”, I cannot help but think that this kind of phenomenon is present in a different, and less virulent, form in other societies around the world. If that is the case then there is a very significant conversation that needs to take place.