Sympathy for a soldier

Sympathy for a soldier

Why not for, say, a teacher/firefighter/police officer/nurse…?

It is HOT this summer. Where I live in the Midwest, we are in the middle of a drought that wiped out our garden, which I was so proud of; it was the first time I actually coaxed food to grow from seeds. But we’ve still got it pretty good—we have air conditioning, we haven’t had any fires, and we have plenty of water, which is luckier than most people on Earth.  All in all, we are a lucky bunch, just as most Americans are.

That said, it’s okay to complain about it being hot. It’s not comfortable by any means, and many of us—particularly the elderly and young children—can get hot enough to get sick or even die in such weather. Still, you see people posting photos like this one, and it kind of pisses me off. I’m not mad because someone is sympathizing with the plight of soldiers—truly, respecting soldiers and the hardships they endure is something we should all do, no matter our political views—but because of the distinction that we shouldn’t complain because they’re hotter than we are. In one breath, you’ll tell me that’s wrong—but then say that they’re dying for my right to complain in the first place. Well, which is it? Should I not exercise that right because you think I shouldn’t?

But the real problem I have with this is that people choose to be soldiers. They know they’ll get these conditions—or really comfortable, cushy conditions, like some people I know who’ve served in the military. It’s the job you choose. I’ve seen people scornfully snap at people who are losing their homes, saying it was their choice, their fault—yet they’ll say that soldiers who choose to enlist have more of a right to complain about heat? Why can’t we empathize with everyone?

And I never hear of anyone posting photos of firefighters, doctors, nurses, cops, teachers, or anyone else who works as a public service to others—not since 9/11, anyway—saying, well, I was going to complain about my health, my car being broken into, my work hours, whatever, until I remembered about these peoples’ lives. Why is it always the soldier who is held above the rest of society?

Let me tell you something: everyone makes sacrifices. I know people who chose to sacrifice their entire lives for other people—children, parents, uncles and aunts. I know social workers who work on such little sleep at all as they fight to protect children, to stop people from abusing one another, to get a woman out of an abusive home and into a protected shelter. I know people who give all of their money after bills to local food banks and pet shelters. These everyday heroes may go unrecognized their entire lives, but their sacrifices and hardships are no less grueling than anyone else’s.

How about we stop comparing ourselves to anyone else and recognize that our choices are what make our situations the way they are? Let’s respect everyone, no exceptions—and if someone whines about the heat, well, let them. As my six-year-old says, “It’s way too hot outside!”