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Ask Anyone

everyone's a hero

We’re supposed to appreciate our veterans, right? Even if we don’t like the war? Well, I don’t really think they’re doing anything more heroic or laudatory than anyone else. I appreciate that money sometimes drives them to this choice, but do I have to be thankful and offer them discounts on their coffee? I don’t approve of what they do.

Peace of My Mind

Strictly Classified says: This is a free country, and you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do (except pay taxes and die).

The Back Room says: Very few servicemen and veterans have ever had anything to do with military policy or who we are at war with. They serve/served because they felt it was their duty to their country and to those who fought before them for those freedoms that we are all so lucky to enjoy today. They have put themselves in harm’s way because they believe in what this country stands for and are willing to fight to protect it.

The answer is no, you don’t have to give them a discount on their coffee. However, I would suggest you think on that final line in Willy Wonka, “So shines a good deed in a weary world,” before you make your final service person discount policy.

The Practical Cogitator says: Approve or disapprove, you are entitled to your opinion. But you should probably think about it from another direction. Maybe someone enlisted in the military for the ROTC program, or the tuition assistance offerings, or the once-a-month Reserve program. Maybe they enlisted for some structure. Or maybe the enlisting officers at their high school were extra convincing, so they enlisted at 17. Then maybe, just maybe, they got called up to go serve in a war they knew nothing about when they enlisted. Maybe while they were fighting for “your rights” or “cheap oil” or “democracy abroad,” or against “terrorism” or whatever.

Maybe they got injured, or saw some horrifying acts in some extreme places.

And maybe they came back home to a nation of lazy, American Idol-watching, fast-food-eating, iPod-carrying, Face-book-addicted, materialistic society members that take advantage of their “freedoms.” And they just want a cup of coffee. Does a buck off really offend you that much?

The Straight Skinny says: Let’s put aside your use of a discount on coffee as an illustration. On the underlying question, I’m with you. Gratitude to those who fight our government’s wars is not obligatory, and it is not a test of one’s good citizenship, any more than is one’s willingness to pledge allegiance to a flag, or to kill, or to risk one’s life. The only real measure of good citizenship is how much thought you put into what government is meant to accomplish and what it succeeds in accomplishing, and what you take from government and what you put into it. If you oppose war, you must necessarily disapprove of those who wage war, even those who seem less than fully in control of the choices that lead them into the military. Anything less is intellectually dishonest.

At the same time, I think our intellects must occasionally give way to sympathy. Most soldiers are pawns. (And I mean that literally, not belittlingly.) They deserve respect and kindness. Love the sinner, hate the sin.

As for the coffee, I’m against that, too. And I don’t think cops should get (or expect, or accept) free coffee, either.

command performances

We have a friend who plays in a band/directs a theater company/is an artist. Should we be going to every show?


The Back Room says: No. Your friend wants you to go because you enjoy his craft and he appreciates your support—not because you feel obligated. Attend when you can/want to, send well-wishes when the timing isn’t right.

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