I have found myself at the center of many political conversations, especially when the topic moves to international policies and how the United States of America should position itself in various scenarios.
“My service overseas does not give me a PhD in International Studies & Politics”
While I have life experiences outside the borders of this great country that don’t consist of a Sandals resort, my service overseas does not give me a PhD in International Studies & Politics. Did I gain valuable eye opening insight in to tribal/clan relations, inter-workings and how to operate within that space? Absolutely. That being said, my presence in these austere environments were not to study the local population. It was to neutralize the radical extremists who wanted to bring death to anyone practicing a way of life that they didn’t believe fell in line with their interpretation of Allah’s directives in the Quran.
“Stop asking for opinions regarding foreign affairs, there’s more to someone than a title from a previous occupation….”
Many veterans find themselves struggling to reintegrate in to the civilian population following their service. This happens for a number of reasons, but one being the feeling of failure to adequately relate to their new circle of ‘friends’ (oh how this term carries such a different weight after serving, perhaps another topic for another time). So, what happens when some one who may be struggling with feeling accepted among peers all of the sudden has the limelight sharply focused on them? They feel the pressure to provide some semblance of a response about something they may or may not have any depth of knowledge in because this is their opportunity to ‘relate’ or feel as if their opinion has value. Stop asking for opinions regarding foreign affairs, there’s more to someone than a title from a previous occupation that society has painted in a certain light. To the veteran – if your interests lie in foreign affairs and international relations, by all means have conversation and debate. To ones who desire to be heard differently, don’t shy away, make your interests known. Your time in the military is only a part of you, don’t sell yourself short in thinking you can’t develop further and in ways that relate to those of no military background.
Until a short time ago, I would have agreed with the below image, among others just like it, that can be found on pretty much any military focused or conservative Facebook group. Quite honestly, I probably would have shared one or two with some snarky caption throwing my overseas experience in someone’s face and holding it against them for not having the same in-turn discrediting any attempted rebuttal.
That being said, I am not advocating for or against any of the marches that have been happening recently. Rather, looking to share my opinion regarding the right or privilege to do so. If a particular group of people feel wronged or slighted for any reason and they choose to protest, peacefully, I believe that is their American right. It is that same American right or way of life that I took an oath to protect when I joined the military. When I see someone exercising their right lawfully, it only confirms that I executed my military service successfully. However, what I have seen lately and don’t approve of is when a party doesn’t agree with the topic being protested, the right to the ability to protest is called in to question (that’s almost as un-American as being Russian during the Cold War).
“Don’t hold people to unfair expectations…”
Where I more than likely stray from majority of my ‘brothers in arms’ is in not discrediting someone’s opinion or view due to a lack of visibility or experience regarding a global view of the women’s oppression subject. The oppression that is represented in the image above and the one being protested in America are vastly different, one does not discredit the other either. The women’s oppression that I witnessed and I experienced overseas were exactly that, mine. One of the greatest pieces of advice I received prior to becoming a parent was. “When your child falls and cries or gets upset about something, do not respond with ‘it’s not that big of a deal.’ For them, at that point in their lives, that may be the biggest thing they have had to overcome or worst thing they have experienced and it is a huge deal.” What I took away from that was, why should I expect someone to share in my views that I assimilated through my experiences when they themselves have not lived them? Don’t hold people to unfair expectations, their views and opinions were formed through their experiences, not yours.