This may be the most basic of all childhood games. The rules are simple. Choose a leader, then do everything they do until a new leader is chosen. Leadership generally gets shared but creative, fun leadership sometimes trumps over boring a leader that brings boring activity.
I saw a Ted Talk recently, given by Lt. General Mark Hertling. It was an amazingly forward thinking talk, and it convinced me of two important things. It reminded me that I have had the privilege to know several military leaders that I would follow anywhere. And the second, is that some military leaders have the amazing ability to see a problem, and start to work on a solution long before anyone else is aware of the gravity.
Gen. Hertling has had a long a interesting career. The definition of a well rounded professional soldier can hardly find a better individual. Highly trained as a combat soldier, Hertling was promoted to a command for basic training.
I remember basic training. Eight weeks of grueling physical and mental training. I’m not sure the mental training was completed in time, but the physical training was well along the way.
I had already done a dozen or so extended hiking expeditions with a heavy pack as a civilian. The military training pushed that further than I have ever been. The spare tire that I was beginning to build disappeared pretty quickly. Morning PT before breakfast created an appetite, but that was burned off easily. We even had a twenty foot section of “monkey bars” to travel just in order to get to the mess hall door.
Imagine my surprise by hearing the general say that a huge majority of the initial new recruits failed to qualify physically, and were rejected. In the 70s we were mostly draftees and we still qualified. What was different?
Most of today’s physical rejection comes from new recruits being obese. Not just a couch potato, but a serious, video gaming, professional couch potato with no high school credits in PE.
Somehow, boards of education all across the country have made PE optional in the last years of high school, so many students have “opted” out. At the same time, “screen activity” has increased to five or six hours a day on the average. Not only has cable options increased by hundreds of channels, but the video industry has captured several generations of youth.
I might add, captured, and placed in concentration camps. Oh, the camps are comfortable, because it is their own bedrooms and living rooms. And they also come with all the sugar drinks and snacks that one can eat.
But, if an enemy wanted to weaken a country, they don’t have to place the population in camps, they just have to invent a new addicting video game. It helps if you also cancel all high school PE.
This was basically the point that the General was making. He worried that he could not fill his slots for future soldiers. Less than one percent of the population is in the military currently and he didn’t think that this was sustainable.
There is a real crisis facing us. Can we still follow the leader? Or are we too winded for even the one percent of us that is needed? Watch the TedTalk.