‘My’ perspective…

Since this got posted over at MGC yesterday, I figured I’d stick it up here for those that don’t read that blog.

Perspective…

Watching the various meltdowns over the last couple of weeks has caused me to take a hard look at ‘my’ background and reactions to people. I’m an old white guy. I didn’t grow up rich, or even well off. My first job, after mowing yards, was literally shoveling shit in a veterinary clinic. That more than anything else told me I wanted an education. Growing up in the south in the 60s, during the Vietnam era, tended to focus one’s mind, as we monthly heard about another death of a local boy killed in Nam. I went off to college in 69, got caught up in the lottery after they dropped the 1S deferment. Ended up in the Navy. Spent 21 years there, got shot at a few times, got the crap scared out of me a few more times, buried friends quite a few times.

                Where am I going with this? Well, it’s a big part of who I am, and what I believe today. Whether you’re in 4 years or 40 years, the military changes you. You’re taught personal responsibility, teamwork, work ethic, and cooperation. In the military, skin color is NOT an issue. Male/female, or other ‘orientation’ is NOT an issue, neither is religion or lack of it. It is the person’s ability to do their job. Even more critical in aviation, where your lives literally depend on those on the airplane with you, much like the battle buddy in the foxhole, your ONLY concern is that they know what they are doing, and take personal responsibility for their own performance. Another part that plays heavily with me, is in aviation, one admits their mistakes. Honesty is necessary to keep your happy ass alive. The last thing you want is a rule named after you, because that means you did something stupid and died as a result. In a multi-place airplane, that means you took others with you.

                Do we have egos? Yes. If you’re good at what you do, you’re proud of that. You don’t necessarily flaunt it, but it comes through when dealing with people that are not professional, don’t/won’t admit their mistakes, or won’t listen to reason. The other thing that plays into our attitudes is that most of us have traveled extensively outside the US, sometimes to places where the natives do not like us, and are doing their damnest to kill us. We’ve seen the brutality and the capability of people to actually do inhumanities to man, in any number of ways. We’ve seen the repression of societies, of women (especially in the middle east), and other countries. We’ve seen the crackdowns on free speech, we’ve seen the changes in the world over the last thirty years or more. We’ve encountered good people and bad people from multiple cultures, and dealt with them appropriately. We tend to follow the world news, because we want to know what is going on (because that did impact how/when we did our jobs).

                We tend to pitch in to get things done (teamwork, remember), tend to lead by example, and don’t bitch about how bad we feel, because we know it’s not going to do any good and we don’t really want sympathy. We know others that are much worse off than we are, or died. We tend to be early, find humor in ‘strange’ places and things, and tend to like our backs to a wall, so we see what is coming at us. We’re ‘comfortable’ with who we are, and tend to gravitate to folks that we see exhibiting those same qualities.

We’re also ‘short’ with people that don’t measure up to our standards. We have better things to do with our time than waste it on them. We will go out of our way to support friends, or people we don’t even know, if they need help. We don’t ask for honors for that, and actually don’t want people to know we’ve helped out. We’re an anathema to many, especially those in education and the pundits, simply because they can’t put us in a neat little box and ignore us. We know too much, have seen too much, and done too much. We can be your best friend, or your worst enemy, and we have no problem confronting you if we have issues. That is what we were taught. That is who we are. We are proud to be Americans. That oath we took to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic doesn’t have an expiration date, and only death will release us from that.

Kicking the soapbox back in the corner…

I know I reflect a lot of this in my writing, in that I don’t write ‘perfect’ characters. They make mistakes, and live with them. I also don’t write wallflowers. I know some don’t like the way I write females, basically saying they are nothing more than men with tits. Pretty much all of my characters are based on composites of real individuals that I know. And I DO wish I could shoot as well as some of the women I know!!! 🙂

Yes, I do work hard to make sure the gun stuff is correct, or possible in the MilSF series (Rimworld). I also try for believable situations in both books, that pass the ‘smell test’…

Also, a lot of credit goes to my alpha and beta readers, who point out my errors, give me honest critiques, and are not afraid to call me out when I screw up. I DO research. I have ‘driven’ the areas I talk about in the books, and in some cases have been there, boots on the ground.

Thanks again to those who’ve help me put out a better product, and to those who’ve been willing to part with hard earned dollars to buy my books.

 


Comments

‘My’ perspective… — 13 Comments

  1. The science fiction genre has always left me cold since childhood (except for apocalypse fiction like ALAS BABYLON / LUCIFER’S HAMMER), but the ‘Grey Man’ series is kicking ! :^)

    You are welcome.

  2. Never a Sci-Fi reader, but “Grey Man” simply cannot be written fast enough to keep up with my reading speed!!

    I wish I could be confident that today’s military is indeed one where race and gender are not issues, but I’m not so sure. I’m also VERY uncomfortable with the apparent decrease in technical proficiency I perceive. It seems every issue of “Proceedings” and “Parameters” leaves me wondering where the bottom is and how far from it we are. (And you are free to wonder what a retired Air Force guy is doing with those Navy and Army subscriptions!)

    I do agree, however, that military service, especially the early years, can be a MAJOR life shaping experience. In ’63 I had no intention of making it a career and I wasn’t avoiding anything — just wanted an education and a job at the same time, so I enlisted. Reenlisted at 4 in Vietnam (’67), too 7 years to get a degree, and the next thing I knew I had 3 sons and a full career with the last 10 years as a Chief. I and my family were better for it all.

  3. In the military, there are generally two types of females. (1) “Men with tits”, who are good comrades. (2) Women, who are generally useless, when they’re not actively counterproductive to unit cohesion and morale.

    The job requires a certain type of personality, and certain traits of character. If you ain’t got it, you aren’t going to be successful. Even if you have the character, your body may not be up to the task. This really shows up with females. The top 10% of females perform physically at the level of the bottom 10% of males.

    When they’re in a job field that doesn’t require physical strength or stamina, the “men with tits” can perform spectacularly. Women can be put to productive use in the intelligence fields and doing office work, where “military” skills don’t count for much compared to specialized skills, and combat is very rare and normally fatal.

  4. I never had to serve with women, being a tin can sailor, but I did ogle them and daydream about them. They were a means to an end… one that I seldom got to enjoy. The ones in the Navy mostly only looked good after a few weeks at sea, and did not have a good reputation (different to the men who served with them and trusted them). But teamwork and helping out was ingrained in me more than being on the high school football team. The only problem I had was keeping my mouth shut… thus why I could never had done twenty.

  5. Never regretted enlisting. Seeing more of the world than my provincial Rocky Mountains was wonderful. Meeting people from all corners of the country was an education in itself.

    The characters in your Grey Man series seem real. That is, to me, the mark of a gifted writer and attention to detail a mark of respect to your readers.

  6. Everything you said above about the Aviation community applies in spades to your evil twin, the Submarine force. A couple of weeks back someone posted a question about racism on submarines, and the universal response was ‘never saw it on my boat’.

    Nobody gets to the Fleet in either force without being a lot smarter than average and willing to volunteer for hazardous duty.

    Wings or Dolphins prove the wearer is one of the best in the business, regardless of sex, race, creed, etc.

  7. I think the “men with tits” would, in reality be, a woman who is practical, pragmatic, capable, and competent. As opposed to a “Barbie doll” who was “Daddy’s princess” and now makes her husband’s life miserable as she is dependent, passive/aggressive and wants to be totally taken care of. To her, it is all about manicures/pedicures, hair dresser appointments, “girls nights out” and me-me-me. She wants to be treated like a doll. Everyone knows these gals as “If Momma isn’t happy, no one is happy” types.

    The alternative is a gal who is a wife, mom, may or may not work outside the home, treats her spouse with respect, and works hard to be a life partner, instead of an obstacle. Mature and responsible in her behavior.

    The latter are the types of women you write about in your books, and yet another reason why I enjoy reading them as much as I do.

  8. Rick- Amen!

    Suz- Thanks, and yes, those ARE the ones I know and enjoy spending time with, even if they kick my ass on the range… sigh…

  9. Agree completely on Grey Man… I still swear I know some of those folks! And the women you write about are just as real as the men, and I’d sure like to know them…

    As for the military… I couldn’t serve (I didn’t/don’t see well enough) in the forces, although I tried (and there’s a funny story about that involving an eye chart and a desperate effort on the part of all concerned to make out the big letter at the top…) — so I was a spook of sorts instead. Best I could do. Air America in the early ’60s, if that rings a bell.

  10. WAY too many topics here… don’t get me started!
    While I was in VN I had a cousin that was a submariner. I was confused as to why he thought I, a combat helo pilot, should be impressed with his ass. With a few years and a little education in my “bank” I now know why, and am mighty proud of him.
    Twenty-two years ARMY flying, and 26 years EMS helicopter flying, I still marvel at the fact the public idolizes “heroes” like Robert DeNiro instead of James M. Sprayberry.

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