I believe building community is always a good idea. The community will vary but the respect for a sense of community must never cease. During this last year as a deployed Operation Iraqi Freedom soldier I thought deeply about the things I want to teach my kids. The “to teach” question would come into focus while on convoys, while praying, and while missing indoor plumbing. Perhaps the primary good from this year away from normal was the time given to think. I recalled from a really distant undergraduate philosophy course that Aristotle’s has a notion that each of us must serve the good for the most of the rest of us.
That philosophy leads me to the following; build with every transaction. Every day with every glance we have an opportunity to turn our world into something better than when we found it. When I first learned that our convoys marched down Iraqi streets and our nineteen year old soldiers pointed machine guns at people’s children I questioned our military path. I was angered at the thought of an Iraqi driving down my Indiana Cul-de-Sac with weapons pointed at my ten year old. I figured this would also disenchant most Iraqi’s. The highest regard goes to our soldiers who are trying to make a task of war into a task of nation building but I am not sure theirs is a possible mission.
Like most things, nation building starts with the spark of community in the everyday. Today I will say thank you to my garbage man and mean it. I will hold the door for the next guy and I will smile at everyone I pass. As army reservists, my unit was formed from strangers thrown together from sixteen different states. Some did not play well with others and some were amazing people who made the journey better. Regardless, we were going to offer the most to our nation by getting along and building a cohesive (or at least non-repulsive) team. When we ventured into Iraqi streets it was with the purpose of serving the good for the greatest of others.
As my new civilian job becomes center stage I know an exceptional return for the time consumed as a mobilized US Army reservist. Today I am grateful for the wartime experience despite its tragedy’s because it will focus me on family dinners, an eagerness to engage everyday in respect for the other guy, and a sense of optimism that the world is not quite as lonely when a concern for more than yourself is apparent. Whenever two or more are gathered there is a new hope.