Commentary

July 26, 2012

Acceptance…do you have what it takes?

Commentary by Master Sgt. Kelly Ogden
12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs

No one person is alike. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders and have different views on religious, political and sexual preferences, and they are judged unnecessarily because of it. You may not agree with someone’s preferences, but the thing is that you don’t have to agree. You do, however, have to be professional, courteous and inherently aware of how you might come across others.

I was once in a meeting some time ago where a hot button topic referring to diversity was being discussed. People had all sorts of reactions; shoving their papers, grunting and flat out disagreeing (loudly), while some just sat in silence because they were afraid to speak up. They didn’t want to be “different.” What an unbelievable word, D-I-F-F-E-R-E-N-T. Newsflash, we are all different. No one human being is the same and this should be celebrated because it’s nothing to be afraid of.

In this situation, the troubling thing was that none of these Airmen (including me) realized that the very issue they were bickering about was causing one of their fellow wingmen in the room to suffer in silence. The very people he trusted had become the enemy. He felt alone, depressed and unsure if anyone would have his back if he spoke up. The foolish thing was I just sat there listening, not thinking that this issue and the way it was handled was going to affect anyone in the room in a negative way. I was so unbelievably wrong. The Airman approached me after the meeting, visibly upset and looking for reassurance on how to make things right. He didn’t want one of his fellow wingmen to ever feel what he felt that day. How unbelievably brave. This Airman was willing to stand up in the face of diversity and speak up. His speaking up educated the masses and will definitely help Airmen down the line. If that’s not a leader, I don’t know what is. It was a moment that has literally shaken me and has given me the “gut-check” I obviously deserved. I must add that no one in the room that day intentionally meant to offend anyone, but it’s no excuse because we obviously did.

Somehow it’s been imbedded into our minds that those who are “different” must convince “us” that they are valuable team members. I find this mentality to be unprofessional and disruptive to good order, discipline and morale. The problem is that we often ask ourselves, “how will this affect me?” versus, “how does being ‘different’ affect my wingman?” Our beloved Air Force was built on diversity and it detracts from the mission when non-acceptance takes center stage. I’ve heard people say they cannot control their reactions in response to something they do not agree with. However, I challenge this statement. You may not be able to control your thinking, but you can definitely control your outward behavior. The military forces us to exercise military bearing every single day and as Airmen, we should own it. The main point I took from this particular situation is educating yourself about diversity will bring about change. We begin changing the day we’re born. So, do you want to be the individual who halts progress or do you want to be the Airman who propels it into the future? Accept your wingman for what they bring to the mission. Nothing else really matters.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
(U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey)

9/11 Tower Challenge held at UofA

The Never Forgotten 9/11 Tower Challenge was held at the University of Arizona Football Stadium on Sept. 11. Approximately 350 participants, including personnel from D-M, attempted the challenge of climbing 2,071 stairs. This f...
 
 

Core elements work together

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — The Air Force has built a suicide prevention program based on 11 overlapping core elements that stress community involvement and leadership in the prevention of suicides in the military: Leadership involvement — Air Force leaders actively support the entire spectrum of suicide prevention initiatives in the community. Addressing suicide...
 
 

Keep sports safe

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — Playing sports is fun and it helps people keep in shape and relieve stress. However, if one is not careful, playing sports can result in injuries that keep Airmen on the sideline and out of work. “The main cause of sports-related injuries is over aggressive play and people going...
 

 
DoD

Ice bucket challenge – What does DOD say?

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — If you have been following social media lately, you’ve seen the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge all over your newsfeed and Instagram. This has become an internet phenomenon in which people get doused with ice water to raise money to combat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease....
 
 

Air Force Enlisted Village: Not just a place to live, a place to call home

I first visited the Air Force Enlisted Village as a young first sergeant in 2009, when I was stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. I went to visit with the Tyndall Active Airmen’s Association, Tyndall’s E-1 to E-4 Professional Association, and was amazed at what I saw. This was also the first time I...
 
 

Advise Airmen of rights before asking questions

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — Every day supervisors are faced with challenging scenarios and situations that require them to engage in efforts to help their Airmen. When this engagement is due to a negative act such as theft, damage to property or other possible legal violations, we must resist the instinct to question them...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin