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The Dirt Bag Baller Comes Clean)))Sort Of

trite bullshit

“There’s a fucking fine line between being funny and being a bully” –Marc Maron WTF podcast

My first inclination was to write a piece about nothing more than what the sign in the above picture said and whether or not its claims were apt.  But when I started to write this it became more about my personal experience from a comment that I made about the sign.  This feels more honest to me.  This is obviously my side of the story (meaning: My explanation for my behavior both good and shitty); it’s also important to note that this is an interaction between myself and two of my friends, and we are still friends.

So it’s July 5th (it may have started on the 4th…), and I’m perusing the Facebook, as I am wont to do, when I come across the above image that was posted by one of my friends who has served in the military abroad.  When I first read the sign I thought to myself: “This has to be one of the dumbest things I’ve read in recent memory.”  I did not make that comment…I generally don’t make forward comments like that…they are more aggressive than I fancy myself, and they don’t really add to the discussion in any informed way.  I think I commented with the phrase: “I love irony.”; which is not aggressive but also doesn’t add to the discussion in any informed way, and is probably a misuse of an oft misused literary term…who remembers?  This first comment didn’t land me in any hot water.  How could it?  It committed itself to no world-view and was in no way a coherent statement.  When I identified what in the sign’s text was causing me angst I became more coherent, and sometimes when I become coherent I find trouble…the aforementioned water.  What really bothered me about the sign was its seeming comparison of sacrifices made by Jesus Christ and the American Soldier respectively.  My immediate response (or reaction if you’d like…I’ll call it a response because I think that that’s what it was and, since this is my blog, my version of history wins here) was to bring up ways in which the sacrifices differed.  This second comment was not received well.  I’ll get to the actual comment shortly but first a little blurb in the interest of full-disclosure.

I’m a smart-ass, I’ve been that way for some time and as I get older I try to be a smart-ass who is careful about the feelings of others.  I do this to the best of my abilities taking into account that I am also a passive-aggressive with an emphasis on passive.  Because of that when I say something that offends someone it surprises me…their being offended surprises me.  I don’t want to offend people, but I also don’t care enough about it to carefully guard my words against such a transgression.  This is disingenuous, and I think we can all agree it is shitty behavior.  It is who I am.  I’m working on it.  I’m working on it because I love people and am motivated to do so as way of worshipping God who first loved me.  Some of my smart-assery is taken as being mean-spirited or acting a bully.  Neither of which are intended, but nor are they actively fought against…at least not to any appreciable degree.  When first I was accused of being a bully, I thought it laughable.  I’ve never considered myself a bully because my posture has always been defensive and motivated by fear.  I suppose all bullies tell themselves this lie.

The comment that I made was that only one of the two defining forces mentioned on the sign received a chance at a college education for their efforts.  Again this started as me pointing out a difference in the sacrifices made.  It was meant to be a smart-ass way of busting my friend’s chops…the friend who originally posted the picture of the sign.  My friend’s wife, who is also my friend, and who has also served in the U.S. military abroad, did not like that statement…not even a little–I think.  We have yet to actually talk about it…  I was not trying to call into question the practice of giving service women and men a chance to go to college as part of the compensation for their service…I fully support that policy.  If we as a people have decided that it is important to have a strong military presence in the world, and thus people that presence with folks who are of college age, we should be committed to helping them with education and the buying of a house and anything else that could somehow repay their sacrifice, a sacrifice that I recognize as being profound.  I think the U.S. military is horribly over-funded.  I think the people of the military are horribly under-paid.  Especially when one considers that their efforts almost always result in someone getting very rich.  Also, let it be known that I am against giving Jesus a college education, not because I’m anti-Jesus or anti-education…I guess what I’m trying to say is I wouldn’t want Jesus to be in my college class it would be distracting, Jesus raising his hand over and over again saying: “My Dad told Me it happened differently.”…we get it Jesus, Your Dad is God.

I started to get the impression that my off-handed remark/joke was being taken more seriously than I had intended, so I tried to make it clear that I was kidding.  That was met with a comment about the sacrifice of the military who are charged with doing their duty regardless of their conviction about the specific task at hand.  Which is a true statement.  My friend told me that she was sent off to war while her dad was in the ICU.  I couldn’t imagine what that must have felt like to her.  It made me realize the sacrifice that she made even more deeply.  I had never not valued the sacrifice…I understand that the people of the U.S. military make massive sacrifices, the likes of which I’ve never done (I say that without shame, I’ve never wanted to make said sacrifice, it is not my conviction to do so). 

My intent was not to diminish the sacrifice.  My intent was to diminish the claims of the sign, claims that I found hyperbolic.  I was thinking: “What would a North Vietnamese Christian think if he read that sign? What of the citizens of East Timor? What of the Native Peoples of this continent who have entrusted their lives to Jesus?”  I imagine they would be confused by the sign’s claims on both an historical and theological level.  I also thought the sign was self-serving and wrong-minded; lots of people offer to lay down their lives for us as U.S. citizens: first responders, cops, people working in south-east-Asian sweat-shops, a significant percentage of people who happen upon a burning building…the list could go on, but you get the picture.  On some level I think that I was confused by the use of Jesus Christ in a sign that was meant to promote American Nationalist propaganda.  I could’ve handled it better…hell, I should’ve handled it better.

At the end of the day, I have a love for people not institutions, but here’s where it gets tricky: sometimes when I call-out institutions I hurt people who are involved with those institutions.  I don’t want to be a guy who hurts people (I tried to come up with an interesting way of saying that last sentence…swing and a miss).  I apologized in the same thread because I was sorry for not being careful with my words…I couldn’t ask for forgiveness for my words, I hadn’t said anything wrong and to apologize for that would’ve been insincere.     

One last thing to consider: History is filled with strong-willed leaders who use force as a means to accomplish their ends and dopey smart-asses who are willing to question those ends as well as the means by which they’re accomplished.  History is very clear about what happens to a society when the smart-asses are forced to be silent…


About pats0

Pats0 is a writer who is informed by a punk-rock ethos, and a hatred for group-think. He is the founding member of The Pirate-Clown Guild of Free-Thinkers, an aegis from under which he soils the internet with his thoughts. Welcome.

6 responses to “The Dirt Bag Baller Comes Clean)))Sort Of

  1. Kristy ⋅

    I thought it self serving and American propaganda when I saw it too. It’s hard for anyone to admit, as we’d all like to believe it so; we’re not as important as we think we are. At least not any more important than anyone else. Everyone likes to compare their story to the next guy. When we can actually admit equality, true equality, not the we’re all Americans, or Christians equality, but we’re all people, created in Gods image loved and died for and forgiven if we ask, equality, we’ll stop trying to defend ourselves and be so angry all the time. (I’m still working on that myself)


  2. Stephen

    I agree, my initial thoughts to taking a college class with Jesus ends up with me daydreaming about an opening credits locker scene for a new Nickelodeon sitcom starring me and J. It’s a bad idea all around.


  3. Jayme ⋅

    Hi Patso,

    I do feel compelled to respond to this post in the same media you have chosen. First things first, you came highly recommended as a friend (from several sources) and I have never regretted the decision to include you in my life as my friend. You are highly intelligent, funny, and entertaining. I recognize that the motivation behind much of your online personality/commentary is to stimulate thought provoking discussion… and I am no stranger to that. I welcome healthy debate as long as it remains respectful. I grew up in a very “free thinking” family, and my motivation for joining the military had nothing to do with the “war machine” or anything like that. I joined the US Navy to be a Hospital Corpsman… which has the civilian equivalent to a nurse. I joined the military to help people. While I was serving I saw people… kids really… mangled, torn apart, shot up, and killed. I met people who couldn’t tell me their real name because they were living in the desert in an anonymous existence in order to carry out whatever mission they were a part of. There were no warm fuzzies. Much of it sucked. I did not choose to make the military a lifelong commitment, but while I was in, I was very much aware that I was not in charge of my own destiny. I would follow the orders of the officers appointed over me. I am not altruistic about the military, but there is a difference between the “military” and my fellow brothers and sisters in arms. Many of my good friends came into my life during the period of time I dedicated to my country… one of them being Mark. We know the singular experience of depending on the person standing next to you for your continued existence. Furthermore, I have never met any soldier, airman, sailor, or marine who is looking for accolades for their service. Please keep in mind the difference between the “Military” and the actual service members. This confusion contributed to the travesties that happened with returning service members coming from Vietnam.

    Now… as far as the sign is concerned… take it with a grain of salt. I don’t think anyone is trying to compare the sacrifices of Jesus Christ with any other living being on this planet. The context of this sign is that it was posted on July 4th, a day where we typically celebrate the sacrifices of our fellow Americans. It is certainly not my (or my husband’s) life mantra. It was a meme that sought to include Jesus Christ in a holiday that is not traditionally centered around His sacrifices. To me, this sign points out that while active duty military are out there dying for our freedom, Jesus has died for something more important… our souls. I can understand how someone who has not been exposed to military life would see this from the exact opposite perspective. For instance… this probably shouldn’t be posted on Easter Sunday. That being said, a nice debate about the merits of this sign is totally appropriate, however; I would suggest setting some ground rules first so that people do not make assumptions about intent. That is where people get hurt… and there is no need for that. I love you Patso. I know your heart is right. We don’t have to agree, but we don’t need to marginalize each other for the sake of debate.
    Your Sister in Christ,


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