I am going to ask your indulgence while I share my reaction to what I consider a breach of sanity and a reason why tenure should be renewed on a regular basis rather than a life time guarantee of a job.
On March 25, 2010, 16 professors from the University of Regina published an open letter to the President of the University. They objected to providing scholarships and a $1,000.00 book allowance for dependents of service men and women who have given their ‘all’ for their country. I was perplexed. There are scholarships out there for things that make the average Canadian scratch their head in wonderment.
I think the professors fundamentally missed the point. Canada has never been an imperialist country. Were we part of the British Empire? Yes. Are we or have we ever been an empire? No. Has Canada ever invaded a country to increase territory? No. I would defy the professors to point out a historical reference where Canada would have been considered an imperialist power. We have always been peace brokers rather than war mongers. It was Britain who was the colonial power. Hell, we didn’t officially own our government until the patriation of the British North American Act.
If you have never walked a mile in a soldier’s shoes, control yourself. You are in no position to pass judgement. Have you walked into a building not knowing what was behind a door? Have you walked a road not knowing if it was safe to move ahead? Have you been shot at in one of the most desolate places on earth? Have you ever been to bed and didn’t know if a mortar would end your life?
Soldiers never find a war, they fight it. When you sign up to serve your country, you put your life on the line and your family’s livelihood in the hands of others. A soldier, whether army, navy or air force, (male or female), makes a decision to serve their country. They know when they sign on the dotted line that the ultimate sacrifice is death. They also know that whether they serve at home or aboard that they could die. The difference between what they do and what the rest of us do is to be blunt, they take a risk that many won’t take. They know from day one that they will have no choice where they may die.
The definition of a hero is a “person who risks their life so others may live.”
The definition of a coward is a ” person who is unable to walk in the shoes of another because their way must be better.”
The 16 from the University of Regina have never walked the hot dusty plains, the mountain passes or the hostile environment of a soldier. The place doesn’t matter. Canadian soldiers have served at the discretion of our country without question and with honour.
My thought for the 16 is “sign up, hit the ground and walk a mile in a soldier’s boots. It won’t be pleasant but maybe you will understand why men and women believe enough in Canada that they put everything on the line.” After all, sabbaticals were intended for academics to grow their life experience.
So my message to the 16 is ” put up or shut up.”
Show us that you have the courage to put on the uniform, serve your country and do what is necessary because you believe that there is a higher purpose to what you do.