Sunday, December 18, 2011

East vs West Ideology in a Western Military

What is the balance between setting goals to work towards and being at peace with your position in the world?

Looking at the military through the lenses of Western vs Eastern values brings out some interesting points.  I'm speaking of the way that Western beliefs tend to emphasize the conflict between good and evil.  In the Western way we decide that there is good to strive towards and evil we should combat.  In the Eastern way there is less of this western sense of justice and instead more acceptance.  More specifically I am thinking of the Buddhist belief that good and evil balance each other out and more emphasis is placed on the individual improving him or herself over imposing personal judgement and justice on the world around them.

The military is a paradox.  On one hand it is the armed hand of a nation ready to "deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies" of said country, and on the other hand it is a brotherhood, a family of sorts, that places emphasis on the personal well-being of its employees like no other organization of similar size and stature.

At the large scale it is this difference, and on the individual scale it is a similar battle for me.  On one hand, I want to strive for a good level, and this is aligned with the western beliefs that are instilled in me.  On the other hand, this sort of thinking can lead to self-sabatoging and anxiety over minute details.  I know that the point of eastern 'acceptance' isn't to do nothing.  It is not as though monks become fat slobs who care nothing about anything, there is a lot of self-restraint and self-discipline associated with a monk's lifestyle so I know that isn't the point.  Yet I don't even believe that seclusion or withdrawal is the answer. My personality and wildness couldn't handle that, it's just trying to reach a level of comfort and take that forward towards goals.  It's setting high goals, continuing to strive for them, and using the failure to reach those goals (if failure occurs) as healthy motivation to continue to work hard.  It's maintaining positive and relaxed thought that I find difficult and am working towards every day.  Anxiety is a natural reaction and has obviously helped me get through a lot, but it has grown to a level that sometimes interferes with personal interactions.  It's nothing job-wrecking, it's a normal level of distortion in an otherwise normal life, like so many people have, but it's wanting to change this that is difficult to do.  Looking ourselves in the eyes and accepting what we must change and making the painful adjustments in our lives to change is a heart-wrenchingly painful experience for most of us.  It would be much easier, I have to add, to start to care less, or to convince myself that my weaknesses are strengths, or just pick a personal hour or two to wallow in misery and not work on changing anything at all.

So, balance.  It all comes back to balance.  Master resiliency training anyone?

No comments:

Post a Comment