“Embracing yourself as you are is the first step and the last step. You must be who you are. What you should be is not important. Whoever you are, you are unique. The Universe has made you like that. God has made you like that.” – Sri Bhagavan, Oneness University
Sexism and the U.S. Military
It is well known that excluding military women from combat roles severely limited their ability to advance to better jobs and higher ranks. That premise could have been avoided by acknowledging its mythology in the first place. It was the story everyone believed. Many high ranking military men have never been in combat, never been outside the United States. With the exception of a few years on the staff of General Douglas MacArthur in peacetime Philippines, Dwight David Eisenhower, who rose to 5-star general, spent his entire military career inside the United States until his World War II assignment to London as Supreme Allied Commander.
When Defense Secretary Leon Panetta overturned the ban on American military women in combat, the New York Times responded what a triumph it was for equality. Trumpeting that discrimination has no place in a society which honors fairness and equal opportunity, the editorial reminds us that women have been in the thick of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan for more than a decade: 67 women lost in hostile fire in Iraq, 33 killed in combat in Afghanistan. More than 900 women were wounded in those wars, not to mention countless cases of post traumatic stress disorder. A grateful nation mourns and honors their noble sacrifice. Their families and children live with it every day.
And God Created Woman, An Emotional Being
American women want to work anywhere they choose and they are doing it successfully and that is a good thing. Just as the war photographer’s camera lens provides a degree of remoteness from the carnage, a woman firing ordnance from an airplane can afford somewhat of a disconnect, a certain detachment. But women fighting alongside men with boots on the ground can have lasting irreparable consequences.
Women bring a unique energy and emotional component to any workplace including the military. That innate gift is what distinguishes them from their male counterparts who are natural hunters. While many men are stay at home dads doing a phenomenal job, it is the female of the species that excels at nurturing, healing, caring for and saving lives because that’s what they do naturally. Everything else has to be learned, including how to hunt and kill another human being.
The Right Stuff
The Bhagavad-Gita, a 700 verse Indian scripture, contains a Hindu poem, the Mahabharata, about a bloody struggle within a warring family. On the battlefield of this great Indian epic, Prince Arjuna grapples with his conscience for having to kill his enemies, all of whom are his relatives. He asks his spiritual master, Lord Krishna for advice about what he should do. Since Arjuna is a professional soldier, a warrior, Krishna tells him to do what he is divinely destined and designed to do. The sanskrit word for doing ones duty is dharma. Consequently it was Arjuna’s dharma to fight, and God had endowed him with the right stuff to do the job.
Why Can’t A Woman Be More Like a Man?
In the Broadway musical My Fair Lady, protagonist Henry Higgins sings, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” The debate lingers whether author George Bernard Shaw was a misogynist, but his character, Henry Higgins, appears to be. Today’s professional American women are expected to think like men. It’s old fashioned to talk of motherhood. But motherhood does not go in and out of fashion. Do mothers who are in and out of rehab as a result of war and post traumatic stress better serve their children? Women who can afford to be full-time mothers love it and their children benefit. Unless the species mutates, it is the males that are ideally suited for combat; many relish the adventure of bonding in dangerous environments and resent the presence of women.
Today, women who desire direct exposure to combat now have that option. But men and women should be able to rise to the highest levels based on the skills they bring to the job, as Eisenhower and others did. Being who you are does not mean “why can’t a woman be more like a man?” It means being your authentic self, the unique human being God made you. If that includes the desire to experience combat, then that is your dharma.
The World Health Organization (WHO)
Historically, women have served in all America’s wars, domestic and foreign. Except for research by WHO, very few statistics are available on their health. I interviewed scores of former Vietnam nurses who suffered severe post traumatic stress. Years later they could not discuss their experience with their own children. Some contracted breast cancer from exposure to Agent Orange, the defoliant dioxin whose effects are still surfacing today in the offspring of those who lived in Vietnam during that war. (See recent CNN story on Agent Orange by journalist Hiroko Tanaka. Also my 2006 ezine article, Cancer and PTSD Run Silent, Run Deep.)
Diplomacy–America’s First Line of Defense
War is an archaic state of insanity originating from the old reptilian brain. It has no place in 21st century consciousness. National differences can be resolved peacefully with tux at the table, not boots on the ground. Former ambassador Richard Holbrooke exemplified that in Bosnia. Yes, women can do combat jobs as well as men. But at what cost to their health, their families and their souls? That is the disturbing question they will now have to live with.