Saturday, June 6, 2015

Army vs. Civilian View of Human Nature




During the last week my co-workers, former co-workers and I said good bye to my supervisor Mary Ellen.  She is great at her job, going to a better job, and a really great person to work with.  Because most of those lauding her are also smart, funny and ironic, the praise was effusive but never maudlin.
My co-workers are librarians, archivists, writers, editors and historians.  Just the kind of people you would expect to think the best of others.  And Mary Ellen showed confirms their belief in the inherent goodness of people.  Most of them are much too ironic for a Patron Saint, but if they have a chosen philosopher it is Rosseau--people are good, only circumstances make us evil.

In a coincidence known only to me, Mary Ellen's last day of work was my first day of Army Annual Training.  So while I occasionally glanced at warm and sincere messages about Mary Ellen on my phone, I moved into the world green and camouflage world where everyone is a shit-bag unless proven otherwise.  Machiavelli is the Patron Saint here.



I had a brief hallway conversation with a guy I served with Iraq.  We were discussing some soldiers I had to supervise the following week and what I should do on the two days I would be going Michigan.

Without changing his tone at all he said, "There should be at least one of them who is not a total drooling idiot.  Leave that one in charge."

I admired the non-sexist way in which he left possibility that the one who could meet his very low standard could be a man or a woman.  I really do love both worlds, but the transitions are always strange.

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