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.


 
 

 

Bring ‘invisible class’ into view

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — When I was a young boy, my father explained to me that there was dignity in work. He told me to always respect the worker regardless of how thankless or menial their job may appear to be. He said that you never know the burdens a person may be carrying, or...
 
 

Know what love is, what it’s not

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. — “If you don’t leave him he’s not going to stop until you’re dead,” my mother said. With sadness in her voice my aunt replied: “I know.” I remember sitting in the backseat of the car as my mother and aunt whispered to each other. While my aunt cried, I looked at...
 
 

Military leads the way in equal opportunity

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — What does it take to change a nation? What force has the power to move millions of people in their fundamental views of the world? For Christopher Daniels, a U.S. Air Force colonel, that answer is simple: leadership. In his words, “The true agent of change is true leadership.”...
 

 

Defining moments

The word character has many meanings according to the dictionary…a feature or trait characteristic, moral or ethical quality, qualities of honesty, courage, and to no surprise….integrity. Since it has so many different meanings, it can be made to adapt to so many different types of people. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather...
 
 

Leaders: the good, bad, and forgotten

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — It’s been my Air Force experience there are three categories of leaders- the Good, the Bad, and the Forgotten. Everyone reading this probably thinks they’re in the first category, but we know that’s not the case. Airmen who work for you certainly wish that were true, but not every...
 
 

Stay out of rain; see bigger picture

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — Supervisors, you build and lead teams to the best of your abilities. You hold an umbrella of protection over your people, but what do you do when one of your members runs into the rain via a bad decision? Do you take your protective umbrella from other members to go cover...
 




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