My favorite song in the musical 1776 is the song in which John Adams tries to convince several of his fellow Congressman that they, not he, should write the Declaration of Independence. As his reason for refusing this task, he says repeatedly that he is “obnoxious and disliked,” so much so that anything coming from his pen will be rejected:
While it’s true that Adams was obnoxious and disliked, he was also greatly respected. Although 1776 has a little too much fun with Adams’ irascible personality, it is quite accurate in the way it portrays his central role in achieving American independence. He had a clear vision and, whether he was bullying or cajoling his fellow delegates at the Continental Congress, he was able to share that vision with them, so much so that each was willing to put his signature on a document that when written was highly treasonous and, therefore, tantamount to a death sentence for each signatory.
In other words, soft, yielding people need not apply when it comes to the hard work of advancing liberty. I had the same thought when I read a HuffPo article saying that our American military is made up of people who (ready yourself) are not nice:
[A] bombshell new study from Washington University in St. Louis suggests that simply serving in the military can affect veterans in ways that make it hard for them to get along with friends, family, and co-workers in the civilian world.
“Military recruits are a little less warm and friendly to begin with and the military experience seems to reinforce this–as after service, men score even lower on agreeableness when compared to individuals who did not go into the military,” lead author Dr. Joshua J. Jackson, an assistant professor of psychology at the university, said in a written statement. “Interestingly, this influence appears to linger long after the soldier has re-entered the workforce or returned to college.”
The study confirms that military veterans score lower than their civilian counterparts on tests of “agreeableness.” It also indicates that the military tends to attract men who are more aggressive and more interested in competition than other men–and less concerned about the feelings of others, according to the statement.
Did it really take a “bombshell” study to tell us that manly men who don’t lift tea cups with their fingers delicately elevated in the air are the ones more likely to enter the military, a world distinguished by discipline, hierarchy, and combat? Does anyone really think that sensitive, new-age guys who “feel your pain,” are going to be the ones in the front line in the battle for liberty?
My own interactions with the military have been characterized by something very interesting. The guys and gals I’ve met have something that is strikingly lacking in ordinary American culture: good manners. To me, good manners are infinitely more agreeable than some sensitive, touchy-feely metrosexual who refuses to take out the garbage.
(What do you bet that this “bombshell” study was funded by stimulus money?)
UPDATE: Maybe I’m wrong, but this seems apropos.