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Opinion

The Tyranny Of Time

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Guest post by Tom Burbage

In reality there are three dimensions of time for most of us — the good old days, now and the future.

How you view each of them shapes your life. The good old days resonates with veterans more than other groups because of the brotherhood that is founded in real challenging situations, whether surviving the Service Academy experience or our active-duty years or in our concern for the next generation that follows us. The Eagles, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, the Doors, Woodstock all bring back fond memories; not unlike long deployments where we remember highlights and forget bad times. Our life doesn’t go much farther back than that. What happened before didn’t really matter, we were focused on the ‘Now’. Some of us picked up a cudgel that our parents gave us in the firm belief that it was honorable to keep the momentum going to make America the real beacon of freedom that the world needed.

Most of the herd today has none of that in their DNA. Why is ‘Now’ so hard to understand? Perhaps because it resides between the conflicting versions of ‘then’ and the many versions of ‘when’. 

‘Then’ discussions reflect the artificial importance of how we got to where we are today. To many, it was the heroism of generations of patriots that were willing to lead the fight against the attacks on Democracy and basic freedoms. To others, it was built on the back of slaves and indifferences those many years ago suddenly need reparations. The blood and treasure expended in preserving our American way of life has somehow allowed many outsiders to object to ‘Now’. It is not a new paradox. Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill both argued that we tend to forget the “loss of living history” as we distance ourselves from the last war. Less than 1% of our political leaders have served in our military services. The ‘now’ generations are far removed from the sting of war. Why should we surprised when so many allow a restatement of our history in an attempt to influence our future and many stand on the sidelines as our military is used for social experiments?

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Suddenly, we seem to be tainted by the incursion of Critical Race Theory and other ideologies focused on eliminating the historical references to our survival as a meritocracy. Does any of this really matter in the world we find ourselves in today? The Pilgrims, the revisionist 1619 Project or any other reconstructionist ‘birthing process’ is irrelevant for ‘Now’. You can tell us that something happened in those early days, not unlike the Dinosaur age, that we all should be aware of. It‘s interesting but it is irrelevant to ‘Now’. 

‘When’ reflects the future we see for our society, our personal lives and the world we are going to leave behind for our kids and grandkids. The ‘When’ may be much more difficult to define but it is equally important. Some see a value in sustaining the vision of our founding fathers. But others see a very different world where American values need to be subjugated to a socialist ideology. There needs to be a very clear view of what that means before we, as a nation, capitulate to the other side. 

How did the world change in such a short time? It changed because of our silence. We trusted but we didn’t verify. We trusted our schools but we didn’t verify that they were teaching and not indoctrinating. We trusted our military leaders but we didn’t verify that their incentives for promotion were not compromised. We trusted that our Service Academies were committed to developing warriors but we didn’t verify that the insidious woke culture was taking root. We were silent because we trusted. That trust is gone. 

Why is ‘Now’ so hard to understand? Perhaps because it resides between the conflicting versions of ‘then’ and the many versions of ‘when’. It is a classic example of the herd somehow dominating the smart intellects. The paradigm is also reflected in the basics of combat that numbers can always defeat technology if you can accept the losses. The current Ukraine situation may change that paradigm if we ever get off our asses and deal with the situation as a world power and not another hand wringing onlooker. 

That brings us back to “Now”. So…what do we do now? That is the question every American must face. We need to get it on the ballot and we must ensure that the Democratic voting process can be purged of corruption. We must fight back against the false, racist statements and actions of those who are trying (and succeeding) to divide our country, our military, and our Service academies along racial lines. We must support a return to a meritocracy-based philosophy and reject the move toward Socialism in our country. 

None of these are small challenges. Our hope is that we still have enough real warriors left to accept the challenge. 

Mr Burbage is a Naval Academy graduate, former Navy Test pilot and industry leader. He is working with a group of like minded individuals concerned with the ongoing movement to fundamentally change the focus of our military and specifically our Service Academies.

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