Commentary

July 24, 2014

Life is moving, move with it

Commentary by Senior Airman Jarrod Grammel
23d Wing Public Affairs

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. — “You can’t be neutral on a moving train” is a famous quote, and the title of a memoir and documentary about the life of author, historian and activist Howard Zinn.

What this means is that things are happening all around us, and everything in life is moving in a certain direction. In the Air Force, we see force shaping, raising of the enlistment age and the countless other changes happening daily. We also currently see the events unfolding in Gaza and Iraq, the crisis at our border, social and economic inequality. All of these things affect us, whether we care about them or not, and to not be informed or have an opinion on these things is to follow the status quo, an often times dangerous path, especially in times of moral crisis.

Elie Wiesel, who was a prisoner in the Auschwitz, Buna and Buchenwald concentration camps, knows all too well what neutrality means in a world filled with moral, political and social crises. He said, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

One could take this rationale as a false dichotomy, or black and white thinking. “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” This isn’t the case. The bystander is not equally as guilty as the tormentor or oppressor, but a world full of bystanders wouldn’t exactly be considered a beacon of morality or progress.

This is also something Air Force leaders take seriously, especially in regard to sexual assault and harassment. Classes like bystander-intervention training teach Airmen the importance of being a good wingman and stepping in when they see another Airman being mistreated.

In matters other than sexual harassment, such as in politics and current affairs within the Air Force, being informed is a critical component. I urge everybody, whether in uniform or not, to read up on contemporary issues from a multitude of sources and viewpoints, and think critically about them.

Democracy cannot properly function without well-informed citizens who care about what’s happening and are willing to stand up for what they believe.

Take, for instance, the recent outrage from veteran’s organizations, retired service members and many lawmakers when a 1 percent cut in the cost-of-living adjustments for military retirees under 62 was announced. When enough veterans, service members and advocacy groups spoke out against the cut, lawmakers quickly moved to repeal the cut, passing it almost unanimously.

In this case, if all those veterans and retirees would’ve just stayed neutral by not reading about these issues or standing up for their convictions, they would’ve followed the status quo, meaning those retirees would’ve likely lost their benefit.

So be an active and informed member of society. Don’t just hop on the train without knowing where it’s going or why. We all have to live in the world and in the Air Force, so why not be a positive force and have a say in where the train is going.




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


 
 

 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Racheal E. Watson)

Living the American Dream

SOUTHWEST ASIA — On Christmas day in 1991, the Soviet flag flew over the Kremlin in Moscow for the last time. People across the country took what jobs they could find, getting paid a fraction of what they made before as...
 
 

AFSOUTH Airmen visit orphans

(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Heather R. Redman) Staff Sgt. Katie Adams, Master Sgt. Roberto Vasquez and Capt. Sarah Hartenstein, all members of 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern), take a group photo with the children at Casa de Corderitos orphanage outside the city of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, June 18. The 12th Air Force (AFSOUTH) members...
 
 

AF begins enlisted PME enrollment notifications

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) — Last week, the Air Force Personnel Center initiated a phased approach to notify approximately 83,000 Airmen of the requirement to enroll in the applicable enlisted professional military education distance learning course. AFPC will notify 20,000 Airmen at the beginning of each month until all members have been notified....
 

 
Congeniality_pict

More than just Ms. Congeniality: Airman competes for homeless female veterans

For Tech. Sgt. Charmaine Pozo, the Ms. Veteran America contest was not about glamourous pageantry. It was about tireless advocacy – for a minimally acknowledged segment of those who have served in uniform: homeless female...
 
 

Enlisted evaluation, promotion systems updated

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — With static closeout dates for each rank in place, the Air Force announced it will update the enlisted performance report forms and utilize new forced distribution and senior rater stratification restrictions to round out the incremental changes to enlisted evaluation and promotion systems with performance as the driving factor in promotions. For...
 
 

Don’t throw a fit — get fit

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, ARIZONA — It’s a controversial topic that has been brought up by many Airmen — changing the abdominal circumference standards on the Air Force fitness assessment test. After months of debate, it was decided by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III that the standards will stay the same....
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>