If one good analogy can unpack truth in a unique and life-changing way, how great could the impact be from a handful of analogies that are interconnected? In part 3 of a series, Pastor Jeff Jackson shares the most thought-provoking nugget thus far, from the analogy “goldmine” that the all volunteer military provides.
In all honesty, as much as I’ve enjoyed passing on the previous five nuggets from the all-volunteer military analogy “goldmine”, the nugget I’m describing in this post is probably the one I’ve been the most eager to share.
And as a disclaimer right up front, I should let the reader, (especially the American reader,) know that what I’m communicating could very well offend you if you believe that American culture is the standard by which all other cultures should be measured.
Every person that chooses to become a part of the U.S. military is required to go through “basic training” or “boot camp”.
Although this initial training serves a number of purposes, in my opinion, (which is obviously influenced by my own experiences serving in the U.S. Army in the 1970’s,) the foundational goal of basic training is to completely dismantle a few of the unique cultural traits that American culture holds in the highest regard and that are viewed by most Americans as God-given and essential for self-fulfilment and emotional well-being.
Said another way, basic training exists to crush certain American cultural values out of the recruits in order to then fill them back up with new cultural values that are absolutely crucial for the group to be and do what it was created for.
The three most highly valued American cultural traits that are completely opposed to the ultimate goal of the U.S. military, (protection of America’s citizens and interests,) are:
—Hyper-individualism (“I am who I am” and all that mindset produces, as opposed to an “I am who WE are” mindset).
—Hyper-independence (Dependence and inter-dependence viewed as a weakness rather than a strength/virtue).
—Hyper-egalitarianism (“I’m the same as everyone else, therefore no one is more deserving of honor, respect, and submission than I am, and therefore it is right and good for me to honor and respect myself as my highest goal and then submit to my personal goals”).
In an intentional and concentrated fashion in basic training and then through the rest of the person’s military career, those cultural traits are driven out and replaced with:
—Drawing your identity from and viewing yourself first and foremost as a significant member of a recognized group rather than as an individual who is only a part of the group for the personal benefits being part of the group provides. (Contrast the mindset of military members with the mindset of the players in professional team sports).
—Your personal survival is primarily dependent on other people’s willingness and diligence to do for you and others what they do, and their survival is dependent on your willingness and diligence to do what you do for them and others….even if it costs you your life to do so.
—Others in higher positions of authority, with or without greater experience in the specific role that I fulfil, are to be treated with the honor and respect their rank and role deserve. And they should be submitted to immediately and without questioning, (especially in battle), in order to not only preserve my own life, but more importantly, the lives of my fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and countrymen.
The three American cultural traits that a person who joins the military must be willing to give up are the same three American cultural traits that the person who chooses to follow Jesus must also be willing to give up.
And in the same way that the new military cultural values that replaced the typical American values must be embraced by new military member, so must the new follower of Jesus be willing to embrace new cultural values that are in many ways the complete opposite of the cultural values of those that they ultimately serve and protect.
I will unpack this in more detail in my next post, specifically in regards to missionaries and the challenges they face living in cultures that have values very similar to those found in the U.S military.