The most interesting part of it was my relationship with a man who made no secret about how much he didn't like women in general and me specifically being in ‘his’ Army. When
SFC Legend and I were assigned a project that required our working
closely together for several weeks I wondered how that was going to work because
he so obviously couldn't stand me. It didn't take long to find out.
Just after we started working together I went up for Soldier of the Month. It involved study, interviews and writing. I knew nothing.
SFC Legend did however, and he went
out of his way to make sure I knew as much as he could teach me in a couple of
weeks. When I asked him why he was
helping me he told me that we were a team and we would work as a team. He made
it seem just that simple and I know that it wasn't. He put aside his differences,
his bias and prejudices and did everything he could to make sure I was
successful. He taught me how wear jump boots and to blouse my fatigues, a
better way to shine brass, all the little tricks I needed to learn. He taught me everything I needed to know
about the receipt, storage and issue of petroleum products so much so that I
can still recite the lectures.
Most of all he taught me what respect looked like on a daily basis. When someone told an off color joke or made a sexist remark he poked at me to stand up for myself without lobbing emotional grenades. He challenged me to take a stand and speak my mind in a way that left room for the other person to save face. We argued a lot and when we played combat volley ball I suffered until I learned that it was okay to be tough and tough wasn't mean.
Respect seems to be in short supply these days. People act like it’s a virtue be snide and disrespectful to anyone they don’t like or don’t understand starting with the gay couple across the street and ending with the president. After all they have God on their side. The only opinion that matters is theirs and the rest of us ‘drank the Kool Aid,’ as one friend recently put it. Respect is only given if they think we deserve it and we don’t. And they know we don’t because the Bible told them so.
We can’t go backwards. We can only go forwards and we either go together or we will be destroyed. That’s where respect comes in.
SFC Legend had every reason in the
world not to like me and to resent me. He also had every
reason to demonstrate respect. We were a team. Our neighborhoods are a team, our
communities and work places….teams. And our nation is a team. Isn't it time we
started acting like one?