One of the core values for the US Air Force is Service Before Self. This is intended to instill in our young airman, our officers and our commanders a sense that the whole is greater than the individual parts. That we must consider something bigger than us before we worry about our individual desires and needs. As we look at this value I see an interesting thing. The younger troops usually buy into it and give 100% of themselves to whatever is asked of them. Sometimes so much is asked they give their “last full measure of devotion” to quote Abraham Lincoln. But as time goes on, little by little and bit-by-bit, they are tarnished and jaded by the society around them, and the older leaders appointed above them. Those older people who have found ways to game the system, or manipulate it to their benefit.
For example, we read in the news of the Generals who’ve been asked to retire, or to step down due to abuse of the system, or are being tried under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for abuse of their subordinates. Fortunately they are few in number, but we as a military can only be as strong as our weakest links.
I think our society reflects this same problem. At some point the idealism of youth is stolen away and most of us become focused on what’s in it for me. Some may seem to be great humanitarians as they fight to have someone else, like the government, solve all the inequities of the world, but when it comes right down to it, they still expect to get everything they deserve.
For example, I read about how much tenured professors and college administrators make. I see them arguing for greater benefits for the disadvantaged, and how everyone should have a college degree, but are they willing to cut their own salaries to lower the cost of higher education or would they rather have the government fund more college loans so the students graduate with a staggering debt? I think the answer here should be obvious. Unless the media has failed to cover some new trend I don’t see these professors rising up en masse to reduce the cost of education.
I truly believe most Representatives and Senators actually seek election initially with the hopes and aspirations of doing good things for those who have put their faith in them. But once elected how soon many believe they are entitled to special treatment and after years of this treatment no longer put the good of their constituents first? We see instances where this need for recognition without regard to cost shows the arrogance of our professional legislators. For example, should the Speaker of the House expect and demand that military aircraft fly him or her home each weekend, or should they take commercial flights like the rest of the members? In the history of this nation the record is filled with hundreds of instances of sanctions and acts where once caught with their hands in the cookie jars the institution was forced to take action or face public condemnation.
In today’s world of ad hominem attacks I am afraid none of our senior politicians are capable of placing the Nation’s good above themselves. Every choice, every statement, every agreement is based on what is personal benefit is the politician or bureaucrat likely to achieve. This is only fueled to greater strength by the media who is looking to stoke the passions of their listeners or viewers.