I really do love getting my presumptions and assumptions blown out. It's like getting into a bed with fresh sheets. The comfortable wrinkles of the past are ironed out ... it's crisp and delicious. What a bore I have been.
Last night, I turned on a Bill Moyers interview with a fellow named Andrew Bacevich. Bacevich is a West Point grad, served in Vietnam, lost a son to an IED in Iraq, and currently teaches at Boston University. The proximate cause for the interview seemed to be the latest of his many books.
I suppose, at first blush, Bacevich might be written off as just another policy wonk ... someone who sees world events, assesses their interlocking nature, and issues pronouncements. But I found his thoughtful thinking compelling. And what really seemed to blow my pipes out was not so much what he thought but that he could think. It made me realize how much I missed people who took the trouble to dig into things and think about them instead of simply using their thinking as a means of advancing their own cause.
What the issues are is important. What I think about them is merely a sidelight. That's how I heard this man. And I was grateful for it. Grateful that my sneaking suspicion that self-promotion was the only sort of thinking available had been given a kick in the ass.
I was grateful to be refreshed -- given hope, perhaps -- that the world was other than my lazy-perception of it.
But I was further gratified to notice that when Bacevich made a statement I found unusual to the point of ludicrousness, a willingness to listen and wonder if perhaps I had missed something cropped up. Usually that tolerance is not so obvious. As I said, I am lazy.
What Bacevich said that ran off my chalk board was this:
"Soldiers don't get to choose the wars that they fight. They are sent to serve. They are sent with an understanding that they may be called upon to sacrifice. And the value of the sacrifice is inherent in the act of sacrifice and is independent, I think, of questions about the merit of the policies that sent the soldier into harm's way in the first place."
This was a statement coming from a thoughtful person -- a person who had lost a son to war and no doubt had experience of losing comrades in Vietnam. This was a person whose views warranted an ear. Was his solipsistic argument the product of some long and careful ruminating or was it the product of someone whose experience screamed out for 'meaning' -- some balm to heal a gaping and very real wound?
I honestly didn't know, but I was doubly grateful for the willingness Bacevich instilled in me to consider the possibilities ... not least, the possibility that my laziness was not really enough.
Ah well ... it was a refreshing experience and 'refreshing' is nice at my age..