Friday, September 12, 2008

No Explanation Required

When New York City attorney John Renehan joined the military, his friends began looking and asking for a "psychological explanation." He describes their reactions:

Perhaps I am in personal crisis. Perhaps I believe that Saddam Hussein knocked down the buildings that used to stand a block from my old office. Perhaps I am angry. The possibility that I am doing an ordinary thing done by many ordinary Americans at all times seems not to have occurred to them.

And so their puzzlement continues. One distressed friend, hearing of my present employment, pounds the table and unleashes obscenities. Another tells people she thinks I’ve “changed.” (My oldest friends tell me I haven’t, which is a comfort.) And another tells me that she’s happy “that you’re doing something you care about,” with the forced enthusiasm of a supportive parent. All of which I try to take with good humor. But I wonder how we came to a point at which young persons—of a class that once viewed military service as an ordinary expression of its own privileged relationship to the state—could come to see the act of entering service as an oddity requiring special explanation.

Indeed, how did we come to that point?

Hat Tip: World Mag Blog

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