[March 19, 2018] It’s been said that American culture encourages us to be so self-centered that just about anything we do for ourselves is acceptable – overindulge no problem; disrespect others, they deserved it; don’t finish school, okay. One thing we do know about American society is that three-quarters of us are also unfit to join the military.1,2
Here’s the bottom line … most American are unfit to join because they’re drug users, obese, medically unfit, failed to graduate from high school, or have criminal records (or some combination). The key question in all of this is where have we failed to produce such young people?
The answer lies wholly within the sphere of leadership. It bears repeating that good leadership is about getting people to do things they would not ordinarily do, because they want to do it. And … do things that are good for them, their family, community, and country. Of course, it’s about persuasion. Whether a person joins the U.S. military, or not, is not at issue for us here but the lack of proper guidance of our youth in our schools, our communities, churches, and at home.
Persuasion is a key attribute of leaders. When leaders fail, they fail not themselves but those who follow them. In America, we have failed our youth. Users of illegal substances, obesity, dropping out of school, and getting in trouble with the law are all avoidable with just a little help. Yet those that know better are too self-centered, too willing to blame others, or are too cowed to do anything significant about it.
There’s an old joke that asks, “What’s the difference between the Boy Scouts and the Army?” The answer is that the Boy Scouts have “adult leaders.” Our youth have adult leaders but those adults are not upholding their basic responsibilities of providing the proper guidance to those folks where they have influence.
Such a systemic failure to help our youth grow and prosper as productive members of society, along with our propensity to allow them to do whatever they want without consequences, is a failing ideology. The old adage that “I’m okay, you’re okay” doesn’t work. America’s national security is threatened by its struggling ability to provide sufficient manpower to its armed forces.
- Mission Readiness (a non-profit organization of retired admirals and generals) is an advocate for strengthening national security by ensuring kids stay in school, stay fit, and stay out of trouble. In their study of national security they recognized that 71% of today’s young people are ineligible to join any of America’s military services.