Five years after founding The Gratitude Campaign, I've received over 10,500 e-mails, and 1,500 comments on YouTube. It seems that there is a lot to talk about with regard to gratitude for those who serve; not the least of which is the ever present challenge of understanding how to keep the politics out of it. Hopefully this blog will give us an opportunity for some rational, reasonable, and respectful discussion. I hope you'll join us...

~Scott Truitt, FOUNDER


Monday, October 10, 2011

On All or Nothing

It seems like I’ve blogged about this before, although I can’t seem to find this exact phrase in my records. So perhaps it’s worth discussing again if only to take a slightly different approach to it.

Beneath some of the comments that I hear about supporting or not supporting those who serve, there seems to frequently be an “all or nothing” mentality. What I mean is that there seem to be a fair number of people out there who take the approach that they must agree with absolutely every aspect of military service if they’re going to show any support for those who serve – as though you’re only deserving of gratitude if you’ve always done everything “right”, and never done anything “wrong”. (“Right” and “wrong”, of course, being the eye of the beholder.) In my view, this is a philosophy that can only lead to dissatisfaction with everything, everywhere.

Where else in your life do you apply this kind of thinking? Do you leave a lover the first time you disagree? Do you disown a friend the first time they let you down? Do you leave your job the first time they don’t take your advice? Do you give up your kids for adoption they first time they break your rules? Of course not. If this kind of thinking made any sense at all we wouldn’t have laughed at Jerry on Seinfeld every time he broke up with a girl because she had “man hands” or was a “low talker”…

In life we surround ourselves with the people who are generally in alignment with who we see ourselves to be. In fact, some of our best friends and family may only have a handful of qualities that we truly admire and want to cultivate in ourselves. But if those qualities be powerful enough, a handful can be more than enough.

The vast, vast, vast majority of what our military service members do for us (and for others throughout the world) on a daily basis goes unnoticed, and unreported by the media. And, unfortunately, the more sensational, “newsworthy” things they do are frequently the most controversial. But that should not negate the majority of the service that they provide on a daily basis.

If there are aspects of what our military does that you don’t agree with, I would encourage you to speak out about those aspects – preferably to the people who can actually do something about them, like your Congressmen. Just don’t forget the rest of what they do – not the least of which is defending your right to speak out in the first place. And remember that the military is not one Soldier, or one Unit, and it is not one incident in one place at one time. It is two and a half million people currently serving in hundreds of places, in thousands of ways, and over 20 million living Veterans who came before them. There is so much to be grateful for in addition to be concerned about. All you have to do is look for it, and remember it the next time one of those sensational stories hits the airwaves.