What makes the military a unique place? Is it because of the discipline that they instill in their men? Is it because of the power that goes with the ranks? Why is it even essential that one should join the military? Perhaps it is the values that the military instill in men that can motivate one to join it—values such as respect, obedience and discipline are virtues one can easily learn when one is in the military.
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Obedience is related to responsibility because response-ability says psychologist Frederick Perls, is a misused word. It means “the ability to respond: the ability to be alive, to feel, to be sensitive”. It doesn’t mean “obligation.” It doesn’t mean “duty.” One way or another, it is something one has been directed to do without asking why. If the military lives with obedience and respect to authority, what they would radiate has the capacity to influence others greatly. Their power will not vary. It will not fluctuate. It is not diluted. Their officers need not make these excuses for them just to cover up their disobedience. (Values in the Army). This is what Roger Dawson refers to as “Reverent Power,” having a consistent set of standards and not deviating from them. Dawson suggests that this type of power is the most powerful influencing factor of all. “The longer you project that you have a consistent set of standards from which you’ll never deviate, the more people learn to trust you. From that trust grows a tremendous ability to influence people. Of course, the main point here is that the reason for the consistency is not a desire to have greater negotiating strength. The consistency comes from the commitment to principle (Perls. Frederick 1951).
There are seven values that soldiers need to strive to emulate in their daily lives. These values form the foundation of personal behavior that defines the person as well as the expectations soldiers have of one another. These values are Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage.
From the Basic Combat Training where the army men learned the different values, the value of Respect is defined as, “Treat people as they should be treated. In the Soldier’s Code, we pledge to “treat others with dignity and respect while expecting others to do the same.” Respect is what allows us to appreciate the best in other people. Respect is trusting that all people have done their jobs and fulfilled their duty. And self-respect is a vital ingredient with the Army value of respect, which results from knowing you have put forth your best effort. The Army is one team and each of us has something to contribute.” In the military set-up, the Uniform Code of Military
Justice (UCMJ) is the bedrock of military law. The UCMJ is a federal law enacted by Congress. It contains guidelines on codes of conduct for army men and other people in the military. Some articles establish policy, assign responsibilities and prescribe procedures. In the same manner, it also contains punitive articles such as elements of the offense, an explanation, lesser included offenses, maximum permissible punishments and sample specifications (Values in the Army).
Discussing about the importance of respect in the military reminds me of one great soldier--Alexander the Great, the most celebrated conqueror of the ancient world, who was born in 356 B.C., in Pella, the capital of Macedonia. Alexander was only twenty years old when his father King Philip Macedon died. But he succeeded to the throne without difficulty. Philip had carefully prepared his son to succeed him, and the young Alexander already had considerable military experience. During his invasion of the Persian empire in 334 B.C. he had to leave part of his army at home to maintain control of his European possessions. Alexander had only 35,000 troops with him when he set out on his audacious quest – a very small force compared with the Persian armies. Inspite of the numerical disadvantages, Alexander won a series of crushing victories over the Persian forces.
Examining his manner of leading his troop and eliciting obedience, I surmise that there were three main reasons for his success. In the first place, the army which Philip had left him was better trained and organized than the Persian forces. In the second place, Alexander was a general of outstanding genius, perhaps the greatest of all time. The third factor was Alexander’s own personal courage and demeanor worthy of respect and true obedience.
I discovered that although he would direct the early stages of each battle from behind the lines, Alexander’s policy was to lead the decisive cavalry charge himself during the peak of battle. This was a risky procedure, and he was frequently wounded. But his troops saw that Alexander was sharing their danger, and was not asking them to take any risks that he himself would not take. The effect on their morale was enormous. Such is the stuff of real responsibility and commitment. Such is the stuff that earns one the respect and obedience that nobody can buy.
Indeed, the values and discipline in the military that goes a long way even in one’s personal life are enough motivation for individuals who are qualified to join the military.
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