Monday, July 23, 2007

responding to commenter Allen

First off, I have a sneaking suspicion that I actually know this Allen commenter in real life. But, then again, I always think I know the people who read this blog - even though I know no one in Atlanta.

But, Allen asks if we can compartmentalize public and private behaviors - or any behaviors.

I started asking myself with the whole sex scandal thing and Clinton. I had to ask if a person could be a wretched person but a good leader? Can you actually trust someone who would so easily break vows with the person they see on the pillow every morning to not break vows or promises with the faceless masses? I still ask myself that.

As for Vick - I think that many athletes compartmentalize, to some extent, the roles they play. And, I suspect "roles" is the exact right word for it. I believe that we ask athletes to be a lot of things we don't necessarily help them prepare for - like being a role model to kids -- or to be a responsible citizen with millions and millions of dollars at the easy ready. But, I also believe that we let athletes (and actors, celebrities, politicians, civic leaders, etc) have a pretty wide berth when it comes to our responses to their behavior. It is almost as if the more outrageous it is, the less we know how to react. If he tortured his lab puppy to death, we would be calling "off with his head" -- but since this was such an organized, wide spread operation, we're almost tempted to say "good show" -- except that it was so very terrible.

But lastly, on to the military. I know that mass consumption of alcohol is pretty common place in the military - especially with the newest recruits. I also am concerned that more and more, the folks seeing foreign service are the folks who volunteered for 2 weeks in the summer and one weekend a month - not the folks with the 6 months training. Additionally, the military doesn't insure that reservists get the same support services (or their families) regular army gets. It is all too easy for reservists to return to Iraq without getting "debriefing" or counseling.

A member of congress - I believe from VA, has proposed a law that would insure that military personnel be guaranteed the same length of time at home as over sees when doing combat duty. That means if they pull 9 months in Iraq, they can have 9 months at home before they can be redeployed. This seems to me an utterly reasonable proposal. However, it has met with opposition from elected types who say that politics ought not interfere with military deployments. Funny, the folks who are objecting to this bill don't seem to mind politics interfering with and an individual's medical decisions or politics dictating who can have the rights of legal marriage.

I'm just sayin' . . . . .

And, thanks for the thinking/talking points, Allen.


Allen said...

Thanks for your response to my comments.

What I was thinking about in terms of war was a Speaking of Faith radio show (that I listen to as a podcast--the most recent podcast is Barbara Kingsolver on the Ethics of Eating, which might also interest you).

I agree that a lot of folks have different "roles" to play. We all do, of course. I just wonder how much bleeds through from one role/situation to another. I saw a study somewhere (no idea where or really when) that found correlations between driving video games and aggressive driving behaviors. I.e., people (young men in the study, if I recall correctly) drove more aggressively on the real streets after playing video games where they were racing virtual cars.

OK... So "young men" is not the best demographic in which to find good judgement, etc. I am appalled at some of the stuff I did when I was younger. But that's exactly the group that we're talking about for football players. It's actually kind of a wonder that there aren't more discipline problems in college and pro "ball".

Anyway, I think systemic abuse is just as bad as private, individual abuse. Maybe worse, if it can be worse without diminishing the other. It's just ugly. It shows a real lack of empathy, I think.

On a totally different note... Go see Paris, je t'aime when you can. We went to see it last night. I was a little frustrated with some of the vignettes--wanting more, but really enjoyed it.

The Super Bongo said...

I hope allen sees this -

I am surprised but not about the whole video game/aggressive actual driving thing. More and more, I see young women also behaving in ways that previously would have been "male" behavior. I'm not quite sure this is the highest and best way to express one's feminism. If that is indeed what they intend to express.

And, the difference between college and pro sports -- I think that coaches in college ball feel that they have the responsibility to exert more control over behavior. Also, typically, the media doesn't camp out and hound college athletes in the same ways they do pros. I also wonder if college players still think of themselves as "kids" and thus not really in a position to get into the more serious types of trouble.

However, that being said - the pro game has pretty substancial "security" details keeping tabs on their players too.

I'll add the movie to my netflix -- I've not really seen a truly good movie lately. I've seen some weird stuff -- but nothing I'd truly say was good.

Allen said...

What kind of "male" behavior? From your tone, the following come to mind: Irresponsible. Aggressive. Crude. Non-empathetic.

Based on that list, is alcohol the great equalizer turning all people into "guys"?

On the other hand, there are other behaviors that aren't so negative, necessarily, if taken in moderation: responsible, chivalrous, protective. Some of which are also "female" behaviors in some contexts.

O, the humanity! (no offense)

The Super Bongo said...

ooh - I think I've been caught. Yes, I should have said the "stereotypically unfortunate" behaviors we often see in men. But, you make a very good point that men are capable of real strength and gentleness.

I think I would be better served to say that it's not so unreasonable to expect such behavior from all persons - human or not.

And, yes - all too often we see booze and drugs as the big equalizers. But, there is also an increase in smoking and stress related illnesses in women too.

I find it so interesting that humans know more about nutrition, healthly lifestyles, preventing some illness, etc - and yet they seem, in higher numbers, to be ignoring all those warnings.

I too am guilty of making unhealthy habits. I'm not sure how you make the "good" choice the easiest choice. That covers a multitude of sins.

Allen said...

Actually, I'm two months into a program of exercise and better food choices (both in "what" and "how much"). I've lost about 20lbs so far. The goal is about 90lbs down from where I started (at about 239). The goal is to get my rough BMI down into the "Normal" range.

I've always known that I should, but something finally kicked me over the edge in May to say, "You've got to start eating better." And then, in early June, "You've got to exercise to lose the weight, be healthier, and feel better." And actually follow through on it.

I figured it was a good sign when I actually used the exercise bike in the hotel when I went back to the mountains for my youngest brother's graduation. It's hard to believe he's starting at UNC-CH in the fall.

The Super Bongo said...

Man, you rule. Self dislipline has never been my strong suit. I'm still cycling through my excuses. But, I give you props for finding a system that works for you and sticking to it.

I think I'm winding up to a age angst explosion -- I keep finding more and more indicators I'm getting old -- like toddlers I've known going to college.

Allen said...

"cycling" is apropos. My exercise bike broke yesterday. The part that I need to fix it must be the most expensive part in the bike. Fully half of the discounted price we paid for the whole thing, I think. Unfortunately, we bought it a while ago, so nothing's under warranty anymore--even though it's only recently seen constant use.

Hopefully you'll see the children of those toddlers going off to college. :-) (That's actually one of my motivations for getting in better shape.)