Life Advice from CINCSNAKE

U.S. Navy Adm. William McRavena., Jan. 30, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christopher Williams)(Released)

My friend, Francis Phillips, reviews books for the Catholic Herald. That’s a pretty broad remit and this recent one caught my eye. I found it quite interesting, and yeah, it’s been quite a few years since I read the NYT. Even the bestseller list.

What makes self-help books so attractive is the way they seem to package a successful life into an easy formula within anyone’s grasp. That’s what drew me to read Make Your Bed by William McRaven, a retired US admiral that has, incidentally, made it onto the New York Times bestseller list. It seems I am not alone in wanting to know the “secret” to achievement.

Based on the admiral’s address to the graduating class of the University of Texas in 2014, the book records the ten principles he learnt during his gruelling 6-month training to become a Navy Seal – reputedly the toughest unit in the US military. […]

Other principles which he imbibed include “standing up to the bullies”, those who thrive on fear and intimidation; recognising that life isn’t fair and not becoming bitter about it; accepting that you can’t succeed without friends (especially true in the forces); not being crushed by failure; and “never, ever quit.”

There a fair amount more there, and it’s all worthwhile. But this stood out for me, far too often anymore we are encouraged to run to our safe spaces when confronted by a bully. That, of course, solves nothing for either party. Confront him, and you will gain increased self-regard (whether you win or lose), and it’s possible that the bully might even learn a bit of humility. Neither of which will ever happen if you simply run away. It’s a lesson we should learn on an elementary school playground, but over-supervised as kids are these days, I suspect many don’t, It’s important though to learn it sometime. I also like the last paragraph.

I have been having a dispute with a friend over the word “patriotism.” He is against it, informing me that it has led to countless wars in Europe (as you can guess, he is a Remainer.) I tell him that to be a “patriot” is to be a romantic and to love those indefinable aspects and features of one’s country that make it “home”. By this definition, Admiral McRaven is an old-fashioned US patriot, proud to serve his country and demanding the highest standards of himself in doing so.

Interestingly, I’m a bit chary, myself, of European patriotism although not so much British. Too often it seems rooted on Blood and Soil, Gott mit uns, and all that stuff. Rather narrow and restricting, and prone to xenophobia quite often. American (and somewhat British as well) has a different feel about it. A longing to be on the Lord’s side, and a welcoming, inclusive feel. All are welcome if you share our ideas. And the ideas are the key, it’s a thinking man’s or woman’s patriotism. Maybe that’s why historically our societies have been able to welcome others so easily as citizens, as long as they wanted to become as us, not to force us to become as them. It is our club, after all, if you want to be a member one is wise to obey the rules. But we don’t particularly care where you (or your parents) were born.

Something to think about.


About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

2 Responses to Life Advice from CINCSNAKE

  1. the unit says:

    I lak to help myself to self help. Sometimes I take second and third helpings. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. NEO says:

    Indeed! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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