You’re not a dumb or bad person for having an opinion. You’re a dumb or bad person for not being able to articulate your opinion in a calm, persuasive, and fact-based manner. This, of course, is something we’ve struggled with as a species since the advent of the comment section. Grossly facile statements, Godwinism, and ad hominem harassment has become commonplace in virtual houses of debate.
When Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower issued a letter to his troops just before the D-Day landings in Normandy in 1944, he told them, “I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle.” He was writing to American troops who had to meet these minimum physical requirements: seven pull-ups, 31 jump squats, 27 push-ups, 52 sit-ups, and a 300-yard sprint in 52.5 seconds. Soldiers — all of them — had to be fit in 1944.
American traditions have changed over time, including how we celebrate holidays. In the modern world, one new tradition is posting old photos to social media. This time of year, that means a deluge of military photos showing up just before Veterans Day. These photos can serve the important purpose of helping our friends understand who has served. But let’s be honest: There are some we see over and over and over again. Here are nine profile pictures in your Facebook newsfeed right now.
Instead of giving each other the mutual respect they’ve earned, far too often, veterans put each other down. It sometimes goes beyond healthy rivalry and into incivility and insults, sometimes in person, sometimes behind others’ backs, and of course, without tact, or for that matter, even decency, on the internet.