Mishmat and aggressiviut [discipline and aggressiveness], my commander informed me, are my two flaws, two characteristics upon which I must improve. The advice came at the close of a one-on-one meeting with my commanding officer, the twenty-three year old young man most responsible for my wellbeing over the next three years. While keeping his respect is reason enough to take his advice to heart, I also do so because his perception and judgment are wise beyond his years.
Blame Minnesota Nice for my lack of aggression. In my childhood home, politeness is valued over belligerence, with car accidents at times resulting from overly defensive driving! Combat, my commanders never tire of preaching, is no place for politeness. Be an arse, they insist, asking us to adopt the arrogant assertiveness of the Israeli archetype rarely utilized as a role model.
My lack of mishmat, of discipline, is another issue entirely. An undisciplined soldier is like an ugly model, lacking the most basic tools of the trade. My problem is not that I do not appreciate the importance of discipline issues, like ensuring all my buttons are fastened or that my clothes are just right when reporting for a pre-dawn guard duty shift. The problem is that, despite four months of basic, I still do not quite feel like I am a soldier. My day to day perception of where I am remains 'surreal Zionist summer camp' rather than 'top secret commando training facility.' Perhaps my inability to adopt the soldier mentality lies in my preconceived notion of what a military man is like, a mold I subconsciously resist adopting. Instead I keep a foot outside the box, maintaining an observer mentality that filters soldier life through a bifurcated cynical/idealist lens. I suppose the grind that awaits will leave me no choice but to jump in with both feet, and I reckon when that happens the change that friends have told me to expect as a soldier will really begin to take place. Until it does though, I intend to button down on my loose pockets and missing aggression. No reason not to channel my inner arse until the soldier of tomorrow arrives to take his place.
OMG…He’s Got a Gun
1 year ago