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Commentary | July 28, 2006

Military life defined by love

By 1st Lt. Rachel Sherburne 1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

For many civilians, the word “military” invokes thoughts of weapons, war, tradition, discipline, uniforms and service, among others. 

Most of us in the armed forces would agree with the list above, but I’d like to expand it to include the word “love.” I’ll explain why. 

Military members love their country. 

If you didn’t when you first joined, hopefully through your time in the military, you’ve developed a strong love for our country. 

Life in the military means making sacrifices, subscribing to and following the core values, accepting long work hours, spending time away from your family and doing so with the full knowledge that you’ll probably never “be rich.” 

We are willing to do what it takes to defend and protect our great nation because we love our country. 

Military members love freedom. 

With the ever increasing expeditionary mission of the Air Force, if you haven’t already deployed is support of the Global War on Terrorism, you will likely do so in the future.  Some Airmen deploy six months of every year. 

My deepest respect and gratitude go to these men and women who continue to put themselves in harms way to help protect and defend people around the globe. 

We have and continue to deploy around the world to ensure mankind has the opportunity to experience and enjoy what we love and hold in the highest esteem – freedom. 

Military members need to love each other. 

The diversity of our military is one of our strongest assets. We have members who hail from all over the country, with different ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs, and upbringings. 

We put on the same uniform and choose to serve in the military because we love our country and our freedom. So, where does “loving each other” fit in? 

To be the most effective military in the world, we need to come together and work as a team. We have to unite to accomplish our mission – one team, one fight. 

Before we can serve, defend and do what is best for this country and essentially the world, we need to start serving and defending and doing what is best for our fellow service members. 

Try this approach: Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. 

Most of us were taught the Golden Rule as children, but this philosophy continues to be applicable throughout our lives. 

While each person is unique and has differing opinions, likes, dislikes and beliefs, the undeniable truth is that human beings need interaction with other humans. 

We desire to feel “oneness” with others, and know that we are understood, appreciated, cared for and not alone in this world. 

So, at the end of the day, if what we really want and need is to feel accepted, appreciated and valued by others, we should start by accepting, appreciating and treating each person as we would want to be treated. 

Here are three simple ways you can implement the Golden Rule in your daily life:
Find positive things to say about others. 

Getting a random compliment, pat on the back, or words of appreciation is not only rewarding, but it will probably be something you will remember for a long time. 

Everyone needs affirmation, so don’t be afraid to thank someone or give them positive feedback. 

Have you ever seen how people light up when they are praised? A genuine compliment or kind word can go a long way and may be just what is needed to brighten their day or inspire them. Your words can literally make someone’s day. 

Don’t gossip or talk badly about others. 

Unfortunately, your words can also literally break. We’ve all experienced the pain of gossip. Learning that people have talked negatively behind our back is one of the worst feelings. It destroys self-confidence, morale and creates mistrust and hurt feelings. 

If you’re standing around the water cooler and others are gossiping, you can walk away, change the subject or find something positive to say about the person being talked about. 

Imagine that it was you they were talking about, and it will be easy to avoid gossip.
Be a good listener. 

There are many ways to react when you’re having a bad day or going through a tough situation, but in my experience, I’ve found that usually I just need to talk to someone else to feel better. 

People need to know that someone else cares, that they are not alone in this world, that others can relate to them and that others respect and think they are important enough take the time to listen to them. 

Sure, it is easy to make impersonal contact via e-mail, text messaging or IMing, but remember humans are designed for interaction with other humans. 

Be a good listener when asked, and look for people who may need to talk, but may not be the type to seek out an open ear. 

Start today. 

I challenge you to speak positively about others, to avoid and squelch gossip and to take the time to listen to and be sensitive to others. 

Military service means loving our country, loving freedom and loving each other. 

Lets start today by giving those we work with the love and acceptance that they want and deserve.