May 25, 2007
New to the blogroll, Chapomatic, also known as Chap, formerly known as "another one of them geeky dudes at the S&M school".
In any case, Chap is now a Naval Officer with a blog, and he invited an interview from Barry at En Revanche after Barry invited an interview from me.
Here, an excerpt from Chap's responses to Barry's questions.
Used to be, the concept of service was more important and the military part of being a human being was a known aspect of what it was to be a whole person. Used to be, honor mattered. Fools in government were still there, but people understood that if you were one of those fools then you needed to try, and if you saw the fools you knew it was (as Instapundit mentioned today) an example of Robert Conquest’s third law: “The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.”
Over time we’ve moved to a place where nothing is commonly accepted, nothing is immutable, no values are common and no hero is not anti-. We’ve decided that technological progress is bad, McCarthy’s sins were way more important than where he was right (and using the now-time-honored principle of moral equivalence, where he was right doesn’t matter), the sins of Communism and its advocates are down the memory hole, the Boy Scouts because of a doctrinal disagreement affecting an interest group is automatically evil, the academy doesn’t teach you Shakespeare or relativity but enforces a political viewpoint, and the One True Viewpoint must be held in public communications to the point that what I like to read starts feeling like samizdat. If Paul Smith is unknown everywhere but Jesse Macbeth gets on YouTube, I can’t get to a solution you request. When is someone shamed? When does someone retreat from public life due to egregious behavior?
I guess my bottom line is that yes, our disconnect between my military culture, a culture that is an additional layer of my own identity, and overall American culture needs fixing. I don’t see that being fixed until deeper problems get addressed: honor, conspiracy theories, innumeracy, scientific and theological illiteracy, lack of empathy for the fellow citizen who disagrees.
I think Matthew Bogdanos had it right when he talked about how important it was to be a complete human, a person who is a compassionate but if necessary fierce artist and engineer and parent and teacher and student. Lazarus Long had it down, too. Much as I dislike living in a small town I think I like their values though I’m not always in sync with them. They tolerate my eccentricities pretty well.
I appreciate Chap's viewpoints and agree with some, though I would argue the brush he wields in paragraph two is a touch too wide. But in the same paragraph, he also uses the word "samizdat," so all is forgiven :-)
Thanks very much for the kind words!
Yeah, I definitely wasn't focusing on going all chiaroscuro--that's a very reductive paragraph. Good point. I think I got the feeling across, but not the argument.
I need to think about how better to get that particular point across without spending three thousand words on it. It's tough because my weakest writing point is that I assume the reader already has thought through where I am already, and lose readers who aren't already understanding the particular rabbit hole I went down. (Living in the Midwest and working with a bunch of military types with five kids and twice-a-week church visits also tends to highlight the issue in this case!)
In this case writing that section better would be even harder because some of this stuff I'm ranting about I know some readers can't or won't see, and I don't want to issue pronouncements so much as provide a line of argumentation.
Now I have to go think. Ow my head!
Posted by: Chap | May 26, 2007 2:32:49 PM
"Much as I dislike living in a small town I think I like their values though I’m not always in sync with them."
I ran into a fellow Chicagoan at the Heinlein Centennial in Kansas City last weekend. He remarked on how everything changed once he crossed the Mississippi: "Hey--I'm back in Nice People country!"
Posted by: pst314 | Jul 11, 2007 11:25:37 PM
Not that I'm claiming KC is a small town...
Posted by: pst314 | Jul 11, 2007 11:28:05 PM