Saturday, April 5, 2008

"The Air Force is crazy..."

David and I were talking with a certain acquaintance on Thursday and he had some interesting points of view about the military. He said flat out, as I wrote in the title, that the Air Force is crazy. And working for the Air Force, you either buy into this craziness, learn to recognize the craziness and find balance, or throw your hands up and become lazy and uncaring. The hardest of those three, of course, is to find balance.

So why is the Air Force crazy? I'm thankful that I worked at least as a civilian for the Air Force for about 4 years, so at least I know some of what my husband faces every day. First of all, the military is a factory whose end product is war. The slogan, "Fly, fight, and win" sums it up pretty well. I don't really want to go into the politics of producing war, partly because I don't want to sound "anti-war" and partly because the idea of the war as a product is hard to wrap my mind around.

Secondly, the Air Force is crazy because of its unrelenting drive for near perfection in every aspect of its "factory". This I remember from experience and I can also sense it from the stories David tells. Another slogan that hints at this craziness is, "Integrity first, service before self, excellence in all we do." I don't mind the integrity first part, but the other two can make one go off the deep end if not careful.

Finally, craziness is as craziness does. Some people become brainwashed into the military ideals. If there weren't people that signed on to this craziness, I don't know that the military could do what it does and protect our country in the manner it is able to now. So it's a bit of a catch-22.

For a long time I have been in love with the military. I'm sure a lot of that has to do with my own perfectionist tendencies; the military seemed to go right along with my personality. My love affair is dying, though. Perfectionism eventually leads to disappointment and dissatisfaction. In the military it can suck the life out of the men and women as they strive and strive and are pushed to strive some more and keep producing, like a machine. Problem is, a machine will eventually break down, just like us. Perfectionism in my own life does the same thing.

Don't get me wrong--I'm so thankful for the job security David has enjoyed, endless opportunities, and of course the long list of benefits we enjoy being part of the military. I'm proud of my husband for his dedication and service. That will never die.

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