An epiphany on Justice

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Marcus Luttrell, 3rd from right. All the men in this photo except for Luttrell died during Operation Red Wings.

As you may have noticed, I’ve returned to blogging for the time being. I’ve regained a bit of my mental energy and am nearing the end of my tour in Afghanistan, headed back to see my wife and kids in Germany. I feel good–strong–though still ready to breath the air of a functioning country.

Currently I’m reading Lone Survivor, by Marcus Luttrell, a former Navy SEAL who was involved in Operation Red Wings, in Afghanistan, 2005. Red Wings resulted in the largest single-day loss of American life in Operation Enduring Freedom.

In the book, Luttrell recalls his training at Coronado Beach, BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolitions School). Needless to say, the training is brutal, particularly Hell Week. Luttrell makes an enlightening observation in the chapter covering Hell Week. He says that the instructors not only tried to make the training incredibly difficult in order to weed out the physically weak, but that they also tried to offend the trainees’ sense of justice. The instructors wanted to see who would continue even when the world was going places it shouldn’t go, even when people were assaulting the Tao, as C.S. Lewis may call it. This struck me, because in my time in the Army, it has never been the physically rugged efforts required of Soldiers, or long hours, or even the dangers of being in a war zone that made it difficult. It was the times my sense of Justice was offended. A 12-mile forced ruck march sounds like fun to me but a Non-Commissioned Officer breaking a rule makes me want to hit him in the kneecaps with a crowbar. a senior Soldier speaking down to lower-enlisted Soldiers drives me up the wall; it’s completely unecessary and rooted in the same psychology that 4th grade bullies have.

After reading this, it occured to me how easy it is to try to walk away when Justice is not done. Instead of standing and fighting, instinct sometimes tells us that we should move on and find Justice somewhere else. But we’ll never find it unless we fight for it.

We should not accept injustice nor should we ignore abuses of power in high places. We should continue to do what is right and drive on, calling out weasels, sycophants, power-mongers, and slackers wherever we find them.


6 thoughts on “An epiphany on Justice

    Lou said:
    May 27, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    I read “Lone Survivor” a few years back. It is an amazing, heart-wrenching book. You make a good point.

    Cal said:
    May 27, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Welcome back — I’ve missed you but then I have pretty much stopped posting as well due to a lot of turmoil in my own life. I have always found your opinions and insights to be thought provoking and I frequently pass them on or quote them. In this instance I totally agree with you regarding how to treat people in general and the ranks in particular. I always made a point of calling all of my subordinates by their rank and name. I learned early from one of my sergeants that giving orders was a sign that you lost control of your self and the situation. Much later my battery won an award for the best trained unit in the corps. The real irony is that the training consisted mostly of me explaining what we had to do, how we should do it, and then when the evaluation came just telling everyone this was for real and they should do their best. I always found respect of others returns respect to you. Glad you are back.

    magus71 responded:
    May 28, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Thank you, Lou and Cal, for continuing to read.

    Amos Volante said:
    May 30, 2011 at 1:55 am

    This is the challenge we all face every day in public service, but in the military elite forces it makes a more immediate difference.

    If you’re no willing to call out an idiot immediately, people may die…


    WTP said:
    May 30, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Excellent post. It’s reassuring to know there are a few people left who feel this way. While I’m not as absolute in my expressions, I’m still way further out there than “civil” society is willing to accept. Fortunately it amuses me when simple facts of life that are viewed by main stream civilization as being “out there”, once the years pass and inaccurate perceptions of reality lose out to reality they come around. Of course the cultural “leaders” then spin it as if they knew such all along, but I’m learning to enjoy my private laughs.

    BTW, last paragraph you mean “accept” not “except”. Done it myself once or twice…

    magus71 responded:
    May 31, 2011 at 5:54 am

    Roger. Grammatical error noted and addressed 🙂

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