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