This is Our World, and it's a Very, Very Small One

I love my friend Dave, but he threw me for a loop this morning when he sent an interesting link my way. I was in the middle of composing another post (which I've since abandoned in favor of this one) when the inbox pinged. I've added to, taken away and rewritten this post for hours now. I wanted to address all of the points, one by one, but this would resemble a book instead of a blog post had I done that. Finally, I realized that the SpouseBUZZ readership doesn't need much commentary. You'll understand, and you'll address the points which interest you. So, about the link....It's a blog entry written by a fellow milspouse and posted on CNN's website.

If the American military went to war and America went shopping, then seven years later the war wages on but America is home from the shopping spree with her credit cards maxed out and her head aching from buyer's remorse.

The war didn't change and the fighting force didn't change, but the people back home are over it. War, it seems, went out of style in 2003.

In the military community we roll our eyes when we hear that Americans are war weary. Just what, we wonder, are you all weary of? Hearing about the war? Seeing stories in the news? Most Americans don't even know anyone in the military and won't have any direct contact with the war besides seeing uniformed soldiers in the airport.

No disrespect to the author, but it wasn't the post itself which interested me. Putting Rebekah's last couple of paragraphs aside, because that's a subject that we could discuss and agree or disagree with on another day, most of the blog post reads like something we've seen posted dozens of times in other spouse forums. Most spouses will understand the sentiment behind many of Rebekah's statements, but when her words are posted in a broader forum with a wide-ranging readership, we're able to see how others react. And that's when it becomes interesting, at least to me.

airforcewife often comments that places like SpouseBUZZ are safe for milspouses because we get it. When we need to vent, we can do so without someone judging us. We can vent, safe in the knowledge that most of those who are reading understand where we're coming from without heaping pity or scorn on us, or assuming we're on the verge of divorce or mental collapse. What some commenters read as whining by Rebekah, I read as offering a window into our world - the good, the bad and the ugly. Additionally, wondering why some civilians are so war weary is hardly an odd thought to entertain considering military families have been at this business for seven years now, and it doesn't mean we hold civilians in contempt, either. Quite the opposite. After all, our spouses' job description requires that they put themselves between civilians and harm when necessary. It's one of the many reasons I admire my spouse, and yours.

If I could sum up what Rebekah's post meant to me in one short sentence, I would say, "This is our world, and it's a very, very small one." I'm certain Rebekah's post was not written to solicit pity, which some of the comments seem to suggest. Nobody needs to remind Rebekah, or the rest of us, that our spouses volunteer to serve. That's yet another reason to admire and respect those who wear the uniform. But try as we might to explain the military culture to those on the outside, the age-old wisdom of "not understanding it until you've lived it" seems to hold true. There's a huge disconnect between civilians and the military when it comes to war, and that's likely to remain throughout generations. The "why" can be argued and parsed until kingdom come, but the fact remains that those who are fighting and those who are further removed from the frontlines live in vastly different universes. Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? That's for you to decide, and it's another very interesting question to ponder. But for now, following the conversation through the comments on Rebekah's post is illuminating. Sometimes, when you try to discuss being a military family in a time of war with people who don't live it every day, it can be a challenge to stop them from retreating to their familiar political positions before taking some time to examine relevant and meaningful points from another perspective. 

Military families often get caught in the middle of a political tug-o-war and their quiet strength and enormous courage can be overlooked -- if recognized at all -- in favor of screaming matches between opposing political camps. I have my own deeply-held political convictions, but I tired of political polarization long ago and chose to immerse myself in the milspouse bubble. It seems when I try to venture outside of the bubble, I am quickly reminded that our bubble is encased in concrete rather than rubber. In other words, it ain't gonna bust anytime soon, and I suppose that's both good and bad.   

Read the whole thing and take a stroll through the comment section. Feel free to come back here and add your two cents.

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