Has a liberal ever thrown him(her)self on a grenade?

This is a question for which I’m not sure there is an answer.  Individuals don’t go through life categorized as to conservative or liberal leanings, and the very definitions of liberal and conservative change over time.

This question first came to me at a much younger age, although not so clearly defined, when I first heard of soldiers sacrificing their own lives to save those of their comrades by throwing their body over a grenade thrown into a foxhole.  While I understood the sacrifice and the reason for the sacrifice I found the action unthinkable; something I would most likely never do.

I then asked myself why not, and why would they.

From a rational standpoint it makes sense.

Alternative number one: Dive for cover and save yourself.

You might or might not save yourself by doing this.  Furthermore if you were successful and everyone else was maimed or killed you would be alone in the foxhole and likely not be able to fight off the enemy.

Alternative number two:  Grab the grenade and throw it out of the foxhole.

Those who throw grenades often wait a beat before throwing it in order to prevent this from working.  Consequently, you might be successful and save everyone or, you might merely create an “airburst” and kill everyone including yourself.  Or, you might never get to the grenade and just, inadvertently serve the function of the third scenario

Alternative number three: Jump on the grenade killing yourself but saving everyone else.  The rest of your comrades are able to continue the mission while you are history.

What enables a soldier – or anyone – to sacrifice themself to save others?

Nobility is a word with two major definitions.  It describes an hereditary class of individuals, and it describes individuals who possess honorable traits like honesty, bravery and selflessness.

Noble also describes a group of metals (copper, silver and gold) that are “incorruptible”.  That is these metals resist rusting or tarnishing.  This quality, as well as scarcity, determines the degree to which we value the metal; copper less than silver, less than gold.

The Nobility were once warriors.  They were the Kings men.  Their historical devotion and bravery earned them the title, noble.  For that devotion they were granted status and land and wealth.  Those days are gone. 

 

 During the Great War during which Lords and Earls fought alongside their butlers and footmen, the nobility were forced to face the fact that those commoners often displayed virtues that made it hard to go back to the way things were after the war.

I don’t think that anyone who acts bravely in times of crisis thinks of a reward after the fact.  Furthermore, I don’t think they think at all. They react.  What determines how they react?

It might be argued that it was a matter of how they were raised; the way they were taught and the modeling they witnessed.  It’s hard to say those things didn’t play a part, but in many instances there was no teaching and no modeling.  How do you model the sacrificing of yourself on a grenade?

I’m guessing that it comes from something much more innate.

Boot Camp or basic training seeks above all else to destroy a person as an individual and build them back as a team player.  Recruiters look for young people who played team sports, and they aren’t just looking for quarterbacks.  Linemen are just as important, maybe more so.  Centers and guards and tackles get battered and bruised in every game protecting the quarterback or opening a lane for a running back, and do it for no glory. 

It is not an accident that military members are heavily oriented toward conservative thinking.  Two of the attributes that mark conservatives are a respect for authority, and a willingness to protect the in-group.

I think that those are the people – those linemen willing to be battered for the sake of the team – who throw themselves on grenades. 

I had a commission prior to going to medical school that I earned through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).  In land grant colleges ROTC is mandatory for the first two years and elective during the third and fourth.  In the summer between years three and four cadets go to “summer camp”.  I went to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.  About a third of the cadets were from Texas A&M.  For those of you who don’t know, Texas A&M is a military school. 

We got up at 4:00 a.m., made our beds, dressed and were in formation by 4:30.  We ran in formation for three miles, and reported for breakfast.  From there we loaded into a “deuce and a half” truck and were transported to somewhere else for training.  We stood guard duty at night in front of empty buildings, washed dishes, shined boots and had no day off or leave for six weeks.  For six weeks we were built up physically, beaten down individually, instructed on bleachers in the blazing sun, and given both written and practical exams.  It was a miserable summer.  I pretended to be excited by it.

When I checked in at the beginning of my senior year, I found that I had barely gotten by.  Captain Bennett, the regular army officer who evaluated all of us in our company had given me an individual score of zero (0) nil, zilch.  My scores on everything else was so high that I passed.  It was no secret to me or anyone that neither Captain Bennett, nor Sergeant York (yeah, really) our platoon evaluator liked me.

Much later a friend observed that they knew that I wasn’t a team player. I objected saying that I thought I was.

They knew I would never fall on a grenade.

 

 

 

Views: 53

Comment by koshersalaami on December 10, 2018 at 11:35am

In Israel the guys most likely to fall on grenades were the Kibbutzniks, the guys who were brought up on what were essentially communes. Not exactly conservatives. But they were used to thinking about the welfare of their group. 

Comment by koshersalaami on December 10, 2018 at 11:35am

The national problem we have at the moment is that too many of the very wealthy are not national team players. 

Comment by Rodney Roe on December 10, 2018 at 11:50am

The very wealthy belong to their own tribe, but they aren't team players at any level or along any axis.  They have no country loyalty.  POTUS 45 claims to be a nationalist, but I think it's just food for his base.

His tribe seems to be autocrats.

Comment by moki ikom on December 10, 2018 at 1:21pm

It's the right-wing american folks who want to log, mine, graze and or otherwise exploit to death protected national lands and waters, maybe that's one reason they call themselves nationalists.

Comment by Tom Cordle on December 10, 2018 at 6:35pm

I don't imagine the words "Conservative" and "Liberal" are much valued in a foxhole. As for whether a "Liberal" would fall on a grenade, I'll assume you asked that with tongue in cheek.

It is little known, especially these days, but the most celebrated American hero in World War I started out about as "liberal" as you can get – Alvin York was initially a Conscientious Objector. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_York

That's right, a hillbilly from Wolf Creek, Tennessee, took the teachings of the Bible and Jesus quite literally, especially when it came to the prohibition against killing. But after a long consultation with his minister, he came around to the belief there were times when fighting and killing was necessary, and he proved to be damned good at it.

Keep in mind as well that "Liberal" John Kerry volunteered for duty in Vietnam, while "Conservatives" Dick "Chickenhawk" Cheney, George "What Me Worry" Bush, and Donald "Heel-Spurs" Trump all wiggled out of their obligations.

Comment by Ron Powell on December 10, 2018 at 7:15pm

"... too many of the very wealthy are not national team players...."

Team players don't get to become very wealthy....If they are wealthy, they don't stay that way...

Greed is not a team sport...

Nether is capitalism....

Comment by Rodney Roe on December 10, 2018 at 7:24pm

Tom, it is, perhaps, pointless to try to classify people along the line of political leanings.  Old "heel spur" used to be a Democrat.  He is a party of one, so his defection doesn't mean much.

I think you may be onto something, kosh.  The Israeli kids who grew up in communes were oriented toward the group.  I have met exactly one person who lived in a commune; an agricultural commune in Tennessee.  She was twenty-something and at John C. Campbell Folk school learning to be the commune's cobbler.  She admitted that farming was really hard work, but she loved it, but we could tell was that what she really loved was the community.  She was anything but a conservative, but a total team player.  (She made beautiful shoes, BTW.)

Comment by Rodney Roe on December 11, 2018 at 5:12am

Ron, greed requires a certain degree of ruthlessness to work.  Team players have to share, and wealthy people only share if they think sharing is an investment toward greater wealth. 

Somewhere I heard the observation that the first generation makes it, the second generation spends it and the third generation is back on the street.  That is sort of right.  You can't really spend billions, but you can invest them poorly and lose billions.

I have a friend who, among other ventures, owns a winery.  He says he has made a small fortune in the wine business by starting with a large fortune.  He regards himself as a failure because he compares himself to his father and grandfather who each amassed large fortunes in very different pursuits from each other and from him.  He seems like a dog chasing its tail.

Comment by Rodney Roe on December 11, 2018 at 5:33am

This morning I saw that Trump is going to meet with Chuck Schumer, Senate minority leader, and Nanci Pelosi, the presumed House Speaker.  Trump is referring to it as the "Chuck and Nancy" meeting.  They are meeting to talk about lame duck legislation that Mango Man and the GOP want passed; things like Homeland Security and border wall funding, in order to avoid a partial government shutdown.

It is reported that Chuck and Nancy are wary as they have experienced the fact that Trump is not only not a team player, but hasn't kept his word in the past on things like gun control and immigration.  This inconsistency makes even members of his own party distrust him.

Comment by Maui Surfer on December 12, 2018 at 1:56pm

If you want to see a current team that sacrifices the risk of life for each other virtually every time the Earth produces a giant storm than look no further than the very small cadre of true big wave surfers around the world. While they are scattered from Hawaii to Tasmania to Portugal, virtually all know each other and protect their comrades in the battle against Nature's most powerful forces.

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