Thursday, September 17, 2009


Soldier or Teacher?

It's a question I wake up every morning asking myself, with varying answers. To be completely and utterly divided, fifty-fifty, is a feeling that I'm familiar with. Being alternately raised by two parents with totally different philosophies toward life will do that to you. Yet while each of my parents have finally found a unique blending in me, other issues lay unresolved. Having one grandfather as a decorated war hero and special forces officer and the other as a perfect model of hard work and subsequent reward is a privilege and honor, but I find myself struggling for identity beneath the shadow of their greatness. A grim fear haunts me, to die being known as nothing more than "Jim's oldest grandson" or "Sonny's heir."

I myself am something decidedly different from the both of them. A twenty year old college student and proud Irish-American nationalist, with a major in English and dual minors in philosophy and history. I do fairly well, mostly because I chose to specialize in subjects I truly love. I have a strong feeling that if I chose to do so, I could find some success in the fields of literary criticism and creative writing as a graduate student. Yet there is no peace of mind for me.

Modeling myself after my war hero grandfather, I have recently invested a great deal of my time and attention into a possible military career. My lionization of the man is obvious even to me, yet I crave that word of approval, that eye-glimmer of sincere pride from a man who sacrificed so much for kin and country. To strive for that sort of honor and excellence would surely be a better way to spend life than burying myself in old books, trying to discern abstract meaning...wouldn't it?

Some days I'm sure that it would be, and others not at all. Developing alongside my career choice is my personal philosophy. I've recently found solace in some of the writings of Lao Tzu, the father of Taoism, as well as the Stoic Marcus Aurelius. I yearn for the detached tranquility that they preach, uninfluenced by those around me, yet aware of the disposition and connection of all. I look into the future, and two images are equally vivid. The soldier and the teacher.

A few may say to pursue both, but I cannot do that. I believe that the path of the teacher and the soldier are not compatible, and I will explain why. To teach is to nourish and enrich life, for the betterment of both the individual and the masses. To be a soldier is to take life, either directly or indirectly. I cannot spend my life attempting to balance the two, for that would make me feel hypocritical. For me, it must either be one or the other.

So what will I do? I haven't the vaguest idea yet. Perhaps one path will reveal itself to me as the most promising. I hope so, anyway.


  1. If a student, you can be both. Nice post.

  2. Your decision will be the right one, for you.

  3. There is more to be said on this topic...

    Great, great first shot, lad.

  4. There are always more than two choices, but from the thoughtfulness of your post I suspect you know that. In your position, albeit a little less polarized, I chose to find a path that gave me some of the elements that I found good about each of my options.

    I'd say good luck, but from the clarity with which you write about this I think you don't need luck; you're well on your way to sorting it out.

  5. It's so interesting to hear from a young person perched on what is a precarious position. Your life will (God willing) take you on many turns and bends and then will probably uncover a path you NEVER knew existed!

    Be open to what life has in store for you. You will NOT be disappointed.

  6. An excellent post. The challenge comes when one realizes that the lines are really rather blurry most of the time. The many military men and women I know do not consider themselves takers of life, rather as protectors of life. And the good ones? They teach honor, duty, dignity and loyalty. perhaps they teach in a classroom, but many times, unfortunately, on a battlefield. The harshest of environments where the best and worst of humanity clash with only the strongest survivng.

    Rock on

  7. My two favorite bloggers precede me...there is so much to say and you say it well...what a bloody relief...keep writing.

    As for what and who and how, your questions are the beginning of self realization manifesting. No, you'll never be disappointed, ever: as long as you know that whatever happens is your life and yours alone. If compared to another's, it may appear to be a failing; if remembered it is yours and yours alone, everything is a stepping stone to higher consciousness and achievement....