We are currently working on some updates to our web site, one of which is a page on which I respond to the most common questions and comments that I've received in the past two years of working on The Gratitude Campaign. One of the more challenging issue that people tend to have with our video is our comment that, "It's not about politics." So I thought it appropriate to start our blog with that:
In our video, we say “It’s not about politics.” What do we mean by that? Or, as some might see it, how can we say that? Well, to put things into their simplest terms, in my observation those who believe in Peace tend to be associated with the liberal left, whereas those who support our Troops tend to be associated with the conservative right. The debates between liberal left and conservative right have become so boisterous, dramatic, and emotional that our society is becoming increasingly polarized. It seems at times that one side opposes an issue for no other reason than that the other side supports it. We often argue for the sake of arguing rather than for the sake of finding a solution that we can all live with. And as we become increasingly polarized, we often assume that if something isn't "A" it must be "Z", when in fact the truth tends to fall somewhere between "K" and "Q". And for those who would rather that things be in their simplest terms, this has led to a dynamic where those who support Peace oppose the Troops, and those who support the Troops oppose Peace. I don’t believe that this dynamic is serving us as a society. We’re more concerned with being Right than we are with being Productive – and our Troops get caught in the middle.
The truth is we all benefit from the service of our Troops, whether we be liberal left, conservative right, or somewhere in the middle. Some of us benefit more directly than others, as in the case of those rescued from a mountain climbing accident, or stranded by flood waters, or suffering from starvation in drought ridden parts of the world. But even those of us who have not had to suffer these more acute problems benefit from the service of our Troops in that, in everything that they do, they serve to defend and protect our Freedoms – not the least of which is our Freedom of Speech. I would not be able to write this now were it not for those serving to defend my Freedom. And they serve in the same fashion regardless of which political party their Commander in Chief belongs to.
While we understand that wars are powerful and controversial examples of the lowest form of political negotiation, and our Troops are obviously a part of that, we’d like to encourage people to open their minds a bit – to look beyond the current conflict and political debate. Notice that there are currently 2.6 million people serving for us in some capacity here in the United States, only 165,000 of which are in Iraq – that’s roughly 6%. That means that 94% of our military is serving in some other place, and in some other way than fighting the war in Iraq. And even those serving in Iraq did not necessarily choose to be there. In addition, there are roughly 20 million living Veterans in the United States today who served in WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Panama, Nicaragua, Somalia, and a thousand other places over the past 75 years – all of which have made us who we are today. We can debate the finer points of each of these conflicts – we have the Freedom to do that. But at the root of it all are millions of people who have committed themselves to serving their fellow man in whatever way they are called to.
So whether you’re liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, Independent or Green Party, we all have a reason to be grateful to those who serve for us. And so, instead of debating the political correctness of the current conflict as though it were the only service provided by our Troops, and pointing our fingers at those who unjustly started this war or unjustly oppposed it, perhaps we should be looking ourselves in the mirror and asking what we have done with the Freedom that they have provided us with.
As I often say in my e-mail responses, if you have an opinion about our international relations, I say voice it! And if, on the way to voice it, you should pass someone who serves, perhaps you could thank them for defending your right to voice it.