Over the past few years, I have had the great honor to become friends with a fellow veteran and career enlisted member of our armed forces. My friend has the same set of challenges with family, loss of memory and failing health that now seeks each of us out to rob of us our manliness, our independence and our ever changing relationships with members of our families. But, most of all we view the loss of our pride and self worth as the ultimate degradation of our generation. These losses are worsened when our ideas, hardened in the kiln of trial and error, sharpened by the wheel of generations of experience and learning are cast aside by those who hold that only the young have new ideas and a false realization that they have the answer to problems as old as civilization it self.
Within this context, there is real pain when a member of this group slowly loses the capability of mobility, concentration as well as his hearing and eyesight. These changes are now hastening to the wrong side of the equation and he is more and more dependent on others in a way that he has never known. I, with great pleasure, join him with others of his ilk for two hours of banter and war stories each month. My friend feels lost in the midst of those who have not worn the uniform and will withdraw into himself if not stimulated by conversation directed directly at him.
My friend is now seeking answers to questions that have no answers yet he is be-Deviled by the forces arrayed to his front that seem to hinder his every move to regain lost honors and respect that are now forever lost to our generation.
Today, my friend experienced the worst scenario a whole man could ever experience. To describe the actual event would be the same as revealing his ID, which I will never do. If you are prudish, read no further.
Imagine you have two broken arms that do not allow you touch any part of your anatomy. You are in a public rest room and you must urinate soon or soil your clothing. Try to feel the sense of self revulsion that he would heap upon his own head if he had to beg someone to unzip his fly and then hold his penis while he urinated. Are you embarrassed to read the last sentence. Can you possibly cast yourself as the man with the broken arms in this ugly play.
Although fictional, my friend and I went through all the emotions we would experience in a real case with the same or similar attack on a man’s pride. It’s all he has left and he is compelled to expose this “weakness” in the presence of his fellow veteran but understands that both give succor to each other to vanquish the shame of each. The gallantry this man demonstrated, when he was removed from the offensive site, is both a tribute to his cultural morals and the ability of a man to overcome personal adversity, but also bears witness to the fact that man is not alone on this orb and it is man that begs the void to find him a home and the right to seek a path to happiness. There are many perils that life, a cruel and heartless mistress, holds for the future of my friend. May his creator give him space and time to address each challenge as it arrives.
In the meantime, words of worth from Benjamin Franklin: All human situations have their inconveniences. We feel those of the present but neither see nor feel those of the future; and hence we often make troublesome changes without amendment, and frequently for the worse.