Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 23, 2006 / 25 Shevat, 5766

Why not be all that we can be?

By Garrison Keillor


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It's been four years since Richard Reid attempted to set fire to his explosive shoes on that Paris-Miami flight, and thanks to him we still do our little dance in stocking feet through airport security, a testimony to the power of the individual to gum up the works for millions of others. Eventually somebody will attempt to scoot through with an underwear bomb, and then we'll be arriving at the airport three hours before departure so we can be inspected by crotch-sniffing dogs.


An individual has vast power to do mischief, which is why our parents inoculated us against narcissism. "Spoiled" was a strong pejorative. When it was applied to us, it stung. And so you went through many little experiences that taught you not to think that the world revolves around you.


Small horrific experiences like taking a shower in gym class in seventh grade, when you shed your skivvies and stepped bare naked into a shower room with 30 other boys, moist pink flesh under a showerhead, soaping up, rinsing, getting the heck out and into your clothes. A democratic moment. There were many of them.


Of course the great experience that most of us missed out on is the American military, a baseline experience for my dad's generation, the kick in the pants that propels the dreamy adolescent into responsible adulthood. I don't apologize for dodging the draft in the Vietnam years — there is a time and place for cowardice — but there was a price to be paid for it: a dreaminess persisted that some sergeant at Fort Leonard Wood might have adjusted.


I met a West Point cadet once, and in her I could see what I'd missed out on, a keenness of focus, a great sense of poise. She embodied the word Capable. I would've followed her into a burning building. Had she skipped the Army and swanned around amongst the perpetual adolescents, she might have missed out on her life entirely.


Whenever I meet military men and women, I'm struck by their bearing and temperament. I sit down to dinner with a Marine captain just back from Iraq and immediately feel a little childish in his presence, though he's 30 years younger. He is friendly, polite and tremendously focused. What might appear at a distance to be rigidity is really heightened attentiveness. Everything he says is appropriate and precise. When you ask about his experience in Iraq, he tells you, without spinning the story. He is no tin soldier, no flag-waver. There's no bombast in him. Like dancers, or pilots, or violinists, or lion-tamers, he is a man trained to operate consistently at a high level of attention.


As you see the price to be paid for flabbiness and immaturity and narcissism and bad manners and lousy grammar, you appreciate the military more and you ponder the consequences of its isolation in American life. Fewer and fewer of our leaders have military service in their resumes. They prefer to sweep blithely along from one comfy perch to the next, cushioned in self-regard, promoting, puffing, spinning, hitting their talking points, building their skill sets. They slip into public office without ever having been yelled at by a bullet-headed black man with sergeant's stripes and made to stand up straight in 95-degree weather and march back and forth across a dusty field and not ask why. This is a shame.


The way to put military service back in the picture is to pass a constitutional amendment requiring that a candidate for president have at least two years of full-time military service. It would be a boon to the country, to the military and to the young. It would confirm the importance of service. The 42-year-old governor who discovers that he wants to be president would need to go down to the recruiting office and enlist. It'd be a big moment, like when Elvis went off to basic training. Think of Newt Gingrich climbing on a bus and going off to have his head shaved and his individuality taken away and rebuilt.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Garrison Keillorís "A Prairie Home Companion" can be heard Saturday nights on public radio stations across the country. Comment by clicking here.

Archives

© 2006 by Garrison Keillor. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, INC.

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles