Monday, December 30, 2002

My father told me a good story today. I've been feeling rather negative about humanity in general lately, but this story sort of renewed my hope.

My dad joined the Navy during the Vietnam War to avoid being drafted by the Army. They put him in radar school at Great Lakes. He wasn't overly fond of it, but it was mostly tolerable because radarmen had more freedom than most.

But one day the bigshots cracked down. They decided to start requiring regular exercise and conditioning. So, they marched my father's unit across campus, and into an adjoining field. The men were forced to do calisthenics, and then were ordered to start running laps.

The bigshots had expected something resembling order; running four abreast, keeping in step. But the men separated and formed disorganized masses. Suddenly, someone let out a low call of "moo." Soon there was an answer: "moo!" And another, and another, and soon there were hundreds and hundreds of "moos" ringing out from all directions.

The bigshots started screaming for everyone to stop mooing; they blew their whistles, they shouted and threatened. But the moo would not be quieted. The men ran and mooed and ran and mooed, and they could not be controlled. Finally they halted the run; of their own volition, not because of any order.

The bigshots couldn't let it be known that discipline had been so subverted; they dared not require a march across campus. They dismissed the men. Somewhere in the mass of passing soldiers, someone shouted out: "Make us do it again and we'll cluck like chickens!"

My father's unit never participated in a military exercise again at Great Lakes. The bigshots didn't dare to try. Subversion was successful; the human spirit, rebellious and free, reigned supreme.

Stories like that, more than any other, make me proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free.