J.J. D.I.D. T.I.E. B.U.C.K.L.E.S.
A Marine captain suggests an amendment to the ”Marine Corps Leadership Traits.”
“So, what does the ‘U’ stand for?” The major general looked at the captain with his brown eyes and light skin. His face appeared chiseled with high cheekbones. Salt and pepper hair lay atop his head with perfect precision.
“I substituted the Unselfishness for Unity. Meaning: ‘cohesion among individuals to achieve a common goal is the hallmark of a fighter.’”
Captain Myra O’Shea peered through her green eyes and folded her cocoa butter brown hands in her lap. Her oval face stayed placid. Her hair laid straight and seemed prim.
“Captain, why are you doing this? Why now? The Marine Corps is functioning just as well without the Leadership Traits being tinkered with....”
“Sir, if I may, the Corps has a long tradition of change. Whether it be for the uniforms or our fighting methods, our attitude towards people of color or their sexual orientation or assignment, the principles are just….”
“That, too, sir. Just take the unselfishness part: ‘To be considerate of others, giving credit to those who deserve it. To make self uncomfortable at the gain of others.’ To be considerate to whom? Other Marines? The enemy? Giving credit where it’s due is not selflessness but justice, and we’ve already got that at the beginning. The opposite is true. It’s unselfish to give credit to those undeserving of it. And the last part...making oneself uncomfortable to others...when? In what circumstances should this occur? When? Taking enemy fire? Who should be the uncomfortable one? Who should gain in all of this?”
“It appears you’ve thought this through, O’Shea.”
“But I caution you on wanting to change the time honored tradition of not being a Marine who regards his fellow comrades with the same esteem as him or herself.”
“That’s what I mean.”
“I mean that I’m adding the ‘S’ at the end to stand for selfishness. Meaning: “That you should always consider self-preservation and as an extension, remember your teammates because the cause is for everyone’s personal gain. It is for the defense of a great nation, sure, but our own lives as well.”
“Sir, I’ve figured out that philosophically the principles are vague and a bit unclear but the one that stood out was the unselfishness bit. In order for the world’s premiere fighting force to continue for 5,000 years, we must be absolutely sure that our junior Marines, NCOs, and SNCOs, and officers are well versed on the proper way of viewing the Corps values.”
“Corps Values? Isn’t that selflessness?”
Captain O’Shea didn’t roll her eyes but she wanted to do that. “No, sir. To be selfish is to have self esteem. Not the participation ribbon kind either. I’m talking about a full-fledged understanding of one’s own abilities and satisfaction with one's own ethics. Also, there is the trading with like-minded individuals. Where else should this take hold but in the Corps?”
Major General Cane Melrose put the tips of his fingers together and leaned back in his leather chair. He pondered like a Tibetan monk. “This whole business may upset the faith-based Marines amongst the ranks….”
“It may be a bit of a surprise at first, but once they realize that the truth is that self-interest is a virtue and that being a lying, cheating, stealing, SOB is not selfish. And I don’t mean it in the religious sense when I say selfishness is righteous. I mean that selfish men and women will win battles more than selfless individuals. It will be because they know that it is in their own honor that they take action and risk their lives.”
“Even if they die?”
“Even if they die.”
Major General Melrose rose from his seat. He walked over to the window. He had collected multiple awards and decorations in his thirty-three years of service. Pictures of he and other military top brass and world leaders hung on his walls.
“I hear your words, Captain O’Shea.”
“I actually have been able to make up in my own mind your amendments to the Principles.”
“I’ve got a few adjustments to the other–”
“Let’s work on the initial changes. Those may be the toughest to alter...and may be the easiest. But let’s focus on the selfishness angle.”
“Yes. Sacrifice will no longer be viewed as a virtue in the Marines or for any US branch of military service. It will be a blight, a nasty thought that ought to be condemned and never supported. Selfishness will be the guiding morality that will make men and women Marines.”
“I’ll consider those changes, Captain O’Shea. I’m impressed at your initiative.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Myra stood up at attention and waited for the major general to allow her to depart. He waved his hand and Myra exited from room with Melrose still staring out the window.