Yesterday was the Fourth of July, and most of us were looking up at the same fireworks Wednesday, with different ideas about why we love and serve our country. But what is there to collectively agree on as we mark the passing of our nation’s 242nd birthday?
We live in a media environment where too much of the content we are fed is designed to convince rather than to inform. It seems that there is little allowance for the consultation of one’s conscience, examination of complex issues, and a push from many sides to believe in simple, starkly contrasted ideas.
Reasonable people who’ve served our country might be given pause when the phrase “being on the wrong side of history,” starts getting tossed around. We’ve put bombs on target as a follow-through to this characterization of foreign leaders, regimes and ideologies. Maybe an examination of the concept of hate is also needed. The simple Webster’s definition includes “to have animosity or hostility toward.” I would take it a step further to add that this includes ill will and lack of acceptance of people with differences in identity and perspective (from whatever ideological bent).
With our legal mandate for fairness, respect and dignity for all Airmen, animosity and/or hostility can break down good order and discipline. Further, these can undermine our teamwork and our quality of life. They are exclusionary. An inclusive view reveals much of the elements of our identity as Airmen are common to all of us.
Maybe the Fourth is an appropriate time to focus on the many ways all members of the Team Kirtland family are alike (we have spent due time on celebrating our differences). We all either took an oath to serve and defend our nation, or we are providing direct support to someone who took that oath. People serving our Air Force, DoD and their families are a minute fraction of our society. We share a common purpose with each other that we share with no one else. Our Core Values, and the character we are forced to develop in the constant adversity we face, forge a loyalty to one another. Our collective identity is still more about the dedication to our nation and each other than anything else.
So as we contemplate why we love and serve our country this week, I would invite Team Kirtland members from all viewpoints to join me in celebrating the protection of the dignity of every Airman and each member of our Team Kirtland family. Defense of our nation is (now more than ever) a team game. After all, ideologies devoid of goodwill and real tolerance are certainly at work in the world, and every one of us can see the destruction and havoc they create.