If you haven’t read the first part of this series, you need to read “Freedom Is Free. Isn’t It?” Reading this part will be kind of like watching The Empire Strikes Back before watching A New Hope, it just wont make as much sense.
“It seemed like a good idea at the time.”…. “It still seems like a good idea” kept on running through my head as I continued to think about that night of debauchery.
I woke up feeling right as rain, so this isn’t about if I drank too much. Obviously I was thinking about enlisting in the Army when I was 17.
These thoughts kept on running through my mind because, as it is with most people in life, the heart and brain were not in agreement. You see, America has classes. Sure, much of these classes are based on economics, but they are also social based. A key American belief is the ability to move up and down the socio-economic ladder. However none of us wish for our children to do worse than us. The unspoken reality is our beliefs mirror more Wolf of Wall Street than Jesus and his disciples. We aren’t hypocrites, we just want our flesh and blood to have a better life than we did.
It is the idea of class and what someone inside of a class should do or shouldn’t do that usually hinders all of us.
Whether it’s having a big truck or getting into the best school social pressures are a bitch.
There are worlds that we know little about and because we know little about them, we believe that they are pointless.
Knowing how to change your own oil seems as pointless to someone in the upper-class, as understanding which fork to use for which part of the meal does to someone in the lower class. Neither of them believe that they will ever have need of the knowledge.
These days there are very few of us who have to step outside of the world we know, outside of our comfort zone. It’s not hard to imagine why. At the end of the day, we all want to be comfortable. We all want to be in a place in which we feel accepted.
My mom, a product of blue collared union middle class values, who tirelessly worked her way from community college to Georgetown Law Center, and then to some of the most prestigious law firms and positions in the country, always told me that I lived in a bubble, I lived in a dream, that the world which I knew wasn’t the real world. The funny thing is, I once asked her how much she made, after weeks of bothering her…
The only way for a young boy to beat a lawyer who is well-paid for her litigation skills, is through attrition.
When my Mom told me that she made more than the President of the United States of America, I quickly looked up how much he made. That year the President made $225,000 and I said to myself “That’s not a lot of money”.
You read that right.
You see, it’s only when you awake that you realize you were in a dream. But when you’re going to Space Camp, having friends whose parents talk about the need of buying a used Ferrari before Ferrari would let them buy a new Ferarri, and your best friend has a pool and hot tub inside of his house with a roof that mechanically opened above it, you can probably understand why someone wouldn’t want to leave the dream.
Adam and Eve weren’t congratulated for leaving paradise.
But from my earliest memories, from the get-go, something was pushing me to leave this dream world. Somehow, before I even knew it, paradise was lost. I never intended on enlisting, I intended on becoming an officer. Something inside of me wanted to earn my place in the world. But my world changed all of a sudden while sitting in German class waiting for the High School news to begin. I lived 14 miles away from the Pentagon and it was September 11, 2001.
As ironic as this may sound, on October 2001 I enlisted in the Army as a medic in order to go and kill the terrorists who had attacked my country. I could swaddle my motives with the flag, patriotism, and Gi-Joe bullshit, but the reality for me was, you hurt my country, I wanted to hurt you.
Upon finding out that I had enlisted, my upper-East Side Manhattan Grandmother said to me “What a waste.” The funny thing is, my Grandfather, her husband, enlisted to fight in WWII when he was in his early thirties.
Stay tuned for the third part of this series “There’s No Such Thing As An Atheist In Basic Training”.