"As I mused, the fire burned"

Reflection on life as a person of faith.

The Heart and the Fist

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Former US SEAL Eric Greitens has just published a book, The Heart and the Fist: the education of a humanitarian, the making of a Navy SEAL Greitens provides a fascinating look into the mind of a soldier, and as to the call of duty. The recipient of a Rhodes scholarship, he left the academic life to join the US Navy. His words are fascinating:

“Here was everthing that Oxford offered: luxury, rest, time, freedom, wealth.

Yet in the rotunda, I looked up and saw that the stone walls were etched with the names of Rhodes scholars who had died during the two wrold wars. Seeing those names reminded me that the intention of the scholarship was to create public servants who would ‘fight the world’s fight.’ Many had left the comfort of Oxford for the trenches of Europe in World War I, or for combat across the globe in World War II. If they had chosen to stay at home rather than to serve, I knew that I wouldn’t be standing in Rhodes House, looking up at them.

The philospoher John Stuart Mill once wrote, ‘War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.’

I had no desire to see my name etched into any wall anywhere. But I felt a sense of obligation. My family was not wealthy. My parents had worked every day of their lives to support me as a kid. People before me had endowed scholarships that allowed me to pursue eight years of higher education and never have to pay one penny. What was all of that investment for?

Oxford could give me time. The consulting firm could give me money. The SEAL teams would give me little, but make me more.”

Greitens goes on to become a SEAL, through what is likely the most arduous training anywhere, and serves at many places around the world.

I noted one other comment of interest. He refers to Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, “To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” An interesting reflection on the use of force.

Greitens went on to start a foundation, “The Mission Continues”, that focuses on getting injured soldiers involved in volunteer activities.

I would commend the book to anyone interested in the reasoning behind a soldier’s call to service.

Greitens leaves me thinking: to those much have been given, much is expected.

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Written by sameo416

December 2, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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