Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Perspective, Part 2

This past Monday was indeed a Monday. Maybe not meteorologically: the weather was bright and sunny. But inside my little world of middle school music-making, well … in spite of how much I think of my middle-school beginner instrumentalists, we were just not communicating well.

How much of it was them and how much of it was me? That’s still up for debate. I may not have been explaining myself as well as I could have; they might have had a brief afternoon of what I euphemistically call “brain fritz”. Once again, gang, for the thirteenth time in this 40-minute period, flute “D” is left thumb, two, three, right hand one, two, three… no? Okay, for the fourteenth time…

So, with a less mild case of exasperation than usual, I drove home, shaking my head a number of times en route.

Now, when I climb up into the Facebook saddle, I do try to remain appropriate, measured, and at a low level of inflammatory-ness. (Inflammatoritude?) Sure, the only people who can read my blather are my Friends (unless some corporation is snooping, and at that point, surely they must have more interesting spy targets than me).

My particular online Friends are good at providing laughs, advice, and sympathy; and occasionally they’re good at gentle reminders as well.


My Monday evening Facebook status post read: “Okay, I’m ready for a weekend! … –Oh. Only Monday, is it? Hm.”

Clever. Understated. Not too whiny; just the right amount of mild desperation; not exactly a “standing on the ledge ready to leap” post.


A subsequent comment, from a late-1980s UMass band colleague (who might remain nameless, except that he played quads and used to bear the nickname “Fruit Loop”), read thusly:

And I was just thinking that I’m ready for the deployment to be over. Only 4 months to go. Freedom must be defended!”


Okay, no need for anonymity. Quite the opposite, in fact: my Friend, Mike Jolin, is over in Afghanistan, or at least I think so. Somewhere in that neck of the woods. And while I don’t know whether he’s actively hunting down explosive devices or terrorist cells or the best way to make the Afghan people think highly of the US again, I do know he’s over there, and soon the blistering heat of summer will give way to the numbing chill of winter, and he’ll be in the middle of it. And in the middle of God knows what else, from now until (optimistically) February, I guess.

So, somewhat chastened and definitely reminded that no matter how hard one tries, one’s sphere of awareness can occasionally shrink to the size of one’s own head … I commented in reply:

This much is true. Perspective is a valuable thing: there are no IEDs in middle school.”

Every morning, I have closets of breakfast food easily within reach. On the way to school, I don’t watch out for land mines, just potholes. At school, I get to teach fifth-graders how to toot flutes. On the way home, I don’t have to watch out for snipers. From the car to the front door of my house, I don’t have to carry fifty or more pounds of military-issue equipment, and if the weather is ugly, it’s only ugly for about eight seconds, then I’m standing safely under the roof. The heat works; the electricity is reliable; and I can decide to fire up a burger, park my backside on the couch and at least one foot on the coffee table, and watch a little English Premier League Soccer, or “Warehouse 13”, or my favorite cable news show, pretty much at the moment the idea strikes.


Anyway, shortly afterward, in the grand Facebook tradition, Mike “liked” my IED comment. Still though, I have to apologize. I do still regret my moment of self-indulgence. May God keep our men and women safe until our leaders see fit to bring them back home.


October 19, 2011 - Posted by | blogging, education, Facebook, heroes, Internet, social media, writing | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. No need to apologize, Rob. I’m not one of those Soldiers who whine about doing all the heavy lifting on behalf of the nation while that rest of my fellow citizens are at the mall. I think that’s dangerous thinking. It creates a sense of entitlement to things undeserving, an air of superiority, and perhaps even hubris that we have the answers because we chose to serve. And that’s the key, isn’t it? We chose to do this. Somehow that makes us better than other people? I don’t think so. In fact, I know so.

    To me, people should live their lives as their conscience dictates, as their destinies are revealed to them. Just because a person chooses a career path that doesn’t entail wearing a uniform doesn’t mean he or she isn’t serving. Can I say that wife, a fourth grade teacher, isn’t serving? Indeed, it’s arguable (and very likely) that her service is more important to our nation than mine.

    So, while my response to your FB status sounds a bit like chastizing (and perhaps I was having a bad day), I didn’t mean it to come off as harsh as it did. Especially in your description of what some folks here are doing and the conditions they are doing it in. Fortunately, I don’t have those dangers, those discomforts.

    As a JAG, my job isn’t that much different than what a JAG would do back home. I work at a desk with a computer and a phone. Granted, it’s in a plywood hut and is a bit drafty and I work everyday and long hours and I’m here and not home, I don’t have it so bad. The guys humping these huge ass mountains with all that gear, engaging the enemy, sleeping outside on patrol you describe? Yeah, they deserve our gratitiude and our admiration as they truly are doing the heavy lifting – physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Me, not so much. Especially considering that my officer pay dwarfs what they make. It’s one of the reasons I do everything I can for these guys. They deserve it and then some.

    And as an aside, I was fortunate enough not to bring my college bando nickname with me to the ‘Stan. I don’t think it would’ve struck fear in the hearts of the insurgents who have been at war for 30 or so years now. Then again, they might think I might be crazy, a little loopy, if you will. That might have served me well – if I was doing the heavy lifting. Instead, I get to go on FB and drive my fellow comrades nuts with my liberal posts. That, of course, led ti a bunch of new nicknames, not to dissimilar to what they call our president. But that just puts me in high company.

    Somewhere Over Here

    Comment by Michael Jolin | December 9, 2011 | Reply

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