Small Wars Journal

What I Fight For

Sat, 12/13/2008 - 10:41am
Recently on an e-mail based discussion group in which I participate, there was some extended debate about how much language training was enough and which was more important, language training or history/culture education, for deploying soldiers. It was an informed and interesting squabble, with practitioners from every American war since Korea piping in with opinions and points of evidence. Then one fellow, a former-soldier-turned-photojournalist named Jim, plopped down the Truth. His simple formulation? "It's a people thing."

Now I am not a big one for the whole "emotional" thingeemabob. In most debates I want footnotes, documentation, and fracking proof for everything. People who know my history know this about me. But there are limits, and Jim's simple statement hit the mark. Sometimes, some very rare times, you don't need proof. You don't need evidence. You need only know how to feel, and be human. Jim, I knew instantly, was right.

So here I suspend. Watch this video.

No, wait. STOP. Backstory first. Because, as you all know, I'm Mr. Context.

OK, so a few years ago this doofus Seattle kid, a 20 something named Matt, decided he wanted to see the world. He took off, and it being the internet age and all, he updated his friends with short snippet videos from all over. The hook was that all of his friends firmly believed that this fellow, Matt, was quite possibly the worst dancer in all of human history.

They were probably right.

But because young Matt had a sense of humor, the snippet videos he sent to his friends from around (that time) South and SE Asia, were all of him dancing his somewhat, ahhhh, unique "dance" in various locals.

Then somebody tied all the videos together. It went "viral"...meaning that people across the planet watched it. Millions upon millions of them. Including some very saavy marketers at an Australian gum company called "Stride." They wrote to Matt and said, "Hey mate, like to do it again on our dime?" So Matt went around the world again, doing his doofy dance. That video was even bigger. Matt was inundated with mail, and Stride saw a global marketing boost, so they (being Aussies) said, "Double down mate." And Matt fused the two...all of the e-mail he had from around the planet...people who loved his video, and a travel expense account that his unemployed butt could have never supported.

This video was the upshot:

Where The Hell is Matt?

And THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is what we fight for. Or at least it is one part of what I fight for. Your mileage may vary, but for me, the vision of the world that this dumb-ass, 20-something, no-talent Muldoon gave us through his genius is enough. Our world is farked up, or at least large parts of the world...the parts that we Soldiers (and our brothers, the Marines) see, are often farked up. But young Matt, with this effing magnificent, transcendent, unifying-the-whole-goddamned-planet vision, which he demonstrated to the world all by his lonesome far better (judging by the 26 million hits on this video) than DoD, or State, or than any part of our government ever has, is a vision of the planet that represents what I want for our collective future.

My friend Jim is right. "It's a People Thing."

I hope this is what you fight for as well. Regardless of your nationality.

Categories: Jim



Sun, 12/14/2008 - 9:24am

Nicely said BD - best to you!

BD (not verified)

Sat, 12/13/2008 - 1:34pm

This is what I hope I don't fight for. I'm in a unit that supports US Forces Korea, and we'll get the call if the balloon goes up. What I dream of is turning on my TV some morning to see Koreans from the north and south dancing together as one in the former DMZ.

It IS a people thing. Some might think that Matt's achingly beautiful vision is naive, or impossible even, but it is why we do what we do. At least it is for many.

Great post.


Sat, 12/13/2008 - 11:57am

Thanks Bob - spot on - Dave