Politicians like to talk about avoiding “boots on the ground”–and for good reason. A so-called air war has the promise of victory with little muss or fuss. No uncomfortable and sad videos of bodies returning home in flag-draped caskets. No awkward Presidential calls to family members. No VA hospitals filled with the maimed. At least not on our side.
Air wars allow us to fly above the fray. To accomplish our objectives indirectly. To do away with actual confrontation. Death comes from above instead of face-to-face.
I’m hardly a military strategist. I’ve never served in the Armed Forces. Maybe an air war is the best choice in today’s world of combat, under our present set of circumstances.
Back in our every day world, I see plenty of people waging their own versions of an air war. They pontificate on ways to fix the world’s problems from the sidelines instead of being in the arena. They think all the answers will be found at a conference or in a book. They write checks to assuage their guilt. They seem to believe a Facebook post can change the world. They lob in the occasional emotional grenade from afar, rather than sit in actual vulnerability.
And yeah, I’ve been that guy. And yeah, that is still my default mechanism far too often (can we let that be our little secret?).
It’s far easier to sit on one side of town and opine on what everyone else needs to do about the other side of town. And I suspect we all know that passive aggressiveness may be good for our short-term dopamine levels, but rarely actually accomplishes anything positive.
Let’s face it, critics don’t win the awards and cheerleaders don’t win the game.
The fact is, plain and simple, the hard, uncomfortable work–the work that matters– requires us to get proximate, to put our figurative and literal boots on the ground, to get dirty, to fall and get back up again. Rinse and repeat.
We can extend a lesson from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and acknowledge that despite our hopes there is no easier and softer way.
And we can be reminded by Brene Brown that “if you aren’t in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I am not interested in your feedback.”