7.20.2017

Too Short for a Blog Post, Too Long for a Tweet LXXIX

Here's two excerpts from a book I am reading, "Grunt: The Curious Science of Men at War," by Mary Roach:



For every general and Medal of Honor winner, there are a hundred military scientists whose names you’ll never hear. The work I write about represents a fraction of a percent of all that goes on. I have omitted whole disciplines of worthy endeavor. There is no chapter on countermeasures for post-traumatic stress disorder, for example, not because PTSD doesn’t deserve coverage but because it has had so much, and so much of it is so very good. These books and articles aim the spotlight where it belongs. I am not, by trade or character, a spotlight operator. I’m the goober with a flashlight, stumbling into corners and crannies, not looking for anything specific but knowing when I’ve found it.

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It’s hard for me to imagine: worrying about the emotional state of other people when you yourself have just lost part of both legs and possibly some of your genitalia and on top of that your pelvis is broken. White told me his platoon sergeant said to him recently, “Maybe it happened to you because you’re the kind of person who’s tough enough to handle it.” I think White is plenty tough, but I don’t think we’re talking about toughness here. This is some kind of blinding selflessness, the sort of instinct that sends parents running into burning buildings. The bonding of combat, the uncalculating instinct of duty to one’s charges and fellow fighters, these are things that I, as an outsider, can never really understand.
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