Wednesday, April 11, 2007

In Response to Checkbook Heroism

I stopped and thought about this post for a couple days before sitting down and putting my thoughts on paper. I wondered what I would do in that situation, or more likely what I would like to hope I would do. Would I be able to turn down money that would undoubtedly help me and my family and do the honorable thing? Could I just do my “damn job” and be done with it. I’m not sure, but I’m surely not one to condemn someone that does take that money.

I agree that in a perfect world heroism, pride, and honor would be the driving force behind all acts; however, this world is far from perfect. To argue that it is or that it should be is both a waste of time and self indulgent. The fact of the matter is, service men and women do a job few want and they do it at pay that is almost insulting. A majority of armed servicemen come from the middle and sometimes lower socioeconomic families. Most online organizations show US armed forces hailing from economic backgrounds around 40,000 annually. They then enter into one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet where their starting salary is going to be less than 50,000 annually at the maximum and as low as 28,000 at the minimum.

These figures are amazing to me. People who risk their lives on a daily basis to protect our freedoms deserve more than a paltry wage. To make it worse, people get mad at them when they wish to make money on something that their armed branch gives them permission to do. They were heroes simply by signing up, as are all members of the services in my opinion; making money off stories the government has granted them permission to sell doesn’t change that fact. It would be one thing to be upset had they sold these stories without the approval of the British Navy, but that just isn’t the case. The proper channels were used, and permission was granted; how then can you expect them not to take money for their stories? In a world where a man who can place a ball through a hoop can make millions, I find it saddening that anyone could possibly condemn or disparage a service man or woman who does something sanctioned by his or her own country to make money they deserved in the first place.

1 comment:

kyernel said...

The British sailors, like all US military service members, are not conscripted, so the sailors joined of their own free will. We will assume they possessed enough sense to understand the conditions of being a member of a volunteer force, to include enumeration, prior to entering the service. Therefore, from an economics prospective, the market price was set, and they freely joined.
So, perhaps it was more than the money, maybe a sense of adventure, or even a nobler calling, wishing to serve one's county, made more valiant due to the service during a time of war.
Why then would they not adhere to the code of conduct, and divulge only the minimum information of name, rank, and service number, as prescribed under the Geneva Convention? Because they do not possess the principled values that service personnel espouse to live; loyalty, honor, courage, selfless service, and integrity to name but a few. Members of all ranks and services within the UK acknowledge an existing code of conduct, and dismay that they talked with no physical trauma or torture.
The whole situation ended well from the standpoint that no life was lost. But the Royal Navy is embarrassed by the lack of a stiff upper lip by their members. The members embarrassed themselves by their complete failure to live up to their code of conduct. Only time and a long investigation will divulge the details as to how they were surprised and taken prisoner.
They deserve no additional benefit by their errors or crimes, just as a convicted criminal should not benefit by selling accounts of their crimes to publishers or movie producers. In fact, they will be lucky to survive with their present rank and standing within the Royal Navy, given the fact that they violated numerous counts under the British military justice system.