Contrary to the values that the army had always strived to impart on young men like us, 2 years of joyless sound and fury didn’t teach me stoicism, nor did it make me more patriotic or independent. The only thing it did is reinforce the harsh truth of how ready people are to objectify others and more importantly, how is that stereotyping essential for anything to be done. And that lesson is way more practical than what the army preaches as “values”.
I should clarify that I don’t mean to make the word “objectify” sound like a pejorative verb. It isn’t. In fact, I used the word as a compliment to how reasonably our world has progressed over the years. It’s only best that people are objectified, otherwise, the world wouldn’t work the same elegant way as it does now; coal fueled steamships wouldn’t be built; the television wouldn’t be invented; industrialization and globalization wouldn’t happen. And my many experiences in the army exemplify my theory.
In the army, hard working NSFs who comply with orders are commended and lazy ones who exhaust every loophole to avoid work are hated. It may feel intuitive to think that the former is commended for his integrity and diligence and the latter is slammed for having poor discipline and an escapism attitude when dealing with obstacles but is that really so?
Yes and no. Because that’s only half of the picture. The other half of it is, people aren’t liked or disliked solely based on their virtues and vices but on whether they are a source of service or problem to others. Diligent NSFs are like well oiled gears of a machine that can be manipulated into lightening the workload of regulars whereas “chaokeng” NSFs only increases it. Like the hippies, they are hated not for who they are but for what they do, which translates to nothing.
More times than not, people are not disliked because they are “bad people” – that’s a name that only kids would use – but because they are useless to someone else. And based on that criterion alone, our society is ready to arm itself with brush and canvas and paint stories to please itself. Or in simpler terms, to judge. And despite the negative connotations attached to the word(judge), I will argue that it’s an essential mechanism of ours that allows any brand of progress to take place. Your reading of this reflection on a printed-paper instead of a handwritten one is not a result of understanding and compassion, but a critical eye in picking out faults. Progress and productivity depends on the unsatisfied man.
On hindsight, the hole in my lung, which resulted in my posting as a technician is a blessing in disguise for the work environment here is a minor simulation of how working life will be. Throughout the 2 years, the army has tried to propagate many of its “values” onto us, but all I caught is its subtle whisper: Love and kindness can wait, first you have to be useful.