Jim @ The Unholy Rouleur makes a trenchant observation in a post mostly about something else:
There was a good Army recruiting ad a little while back in the “Army Strong” recruiting campaign that summed up the Western soldier’s ethos better than anything I have ever heard before or since. The ad’s argument, paraphrased, was, “There’s strong, and then there’s Army Strong; strong is being strong enough to get over, but Army Strong is being strong enough to get over yourself.” One of the Army leadership virtues that officers (noncommissioned and commissioned alike) are asked to internalize is “selfless service.” That means, in its ultimate expression, taking a bullet for somebody else, like a guy in your squad, to execute the general’s orders, or to protect people who think you’re a dupe for having joined up and risked your butt in the first place. Thing is, what those people think doesn’t really matter; what matters is hitting a higher plane of being yourself, putting the parts of you other than those parts intent on sacrificing for others aside. Identifying the unnecessary parts of your ego, the stuff other than the parts which inspire a quiet and informed confidence in your abilities, taking them out behind the shed, putting a bullet in them and burying them in a deep unmarked grave. Killing off that part of yourself that is your own worst enemy, and the enemy of those around you.
Nobody achieves that perfection, but it is a goal.
Most of us didn’t achieve it very often but many do when it counts. And it’s actually more common on the field of battle than in garrison; people are more willing to put their lives on the line than their careers.
Only slightly apropos of the above, I stumbled across this at Neptunus Lex whilst looking for artwork:
Story tip via Jim Henley’s Google Reader.