This past year, the Boo, who is a fabulous soccer goalkeeper had the opportunity to play for the Michigan Hawks--a nationally ranked soccer club. One of the coaches at her summer soccer camp was the coach of a U-13 team on the club. This invitation caused extreme excitment for my daughter, since her dream is to play professional soccer someday, and frankly (not just speaking as a mother!) she has real talent as a goalkeeper.
Unfortunately, she had already made a committment to another team. We tried to find a way for her to play on both teams, but the rules did not permit it. This was a difficult learning experience for her. She desperately wanted to play for the Hawks, but didn't want to let her friends and coach on the other team down.
Several friends recommended that I let her play for the better team, and that it was in her long-term interests to play with the Hawks, rather than a much less well-regarded team. I told her it was her decision (she's that age where we are trying to let her take more and more responsibility for her actions). Anxiously, she asked me what I thought she should do.
I'm not you, I told her. I can certainly understand why you would want to break your commitment and choose to play for the Hawks. But for me, a commitment is a commitment and it is more important to follow through and keep your promises, than to break them for whatever short-term gain you think you will get. Whatever you decide will have to be your choice, though, not mine.
She thought about the issue for a few more days, but finally decided to stay with the original team and only play in tournaments with the Hawks. I can't tell you how proud of her I was.
That's why it is so disheartening to read things like this in the NY Times, which seems to gloss over the fact that these people they are celebrating have broken their commitments. The Times , however, refers to breaking commitments as "UNVOLUNTEERING"!
Like Michele Malkin, this makes me want to gag. This is the kind of life decision that tells the entire world what your character is--the kind of stuff you are made of--and it is clearly NOT the right stuff, in my opinion.
These people were not drafted against their will into the military. They volunteered willingly. What did they think? That their commitment only counted if they approved of their orders? If they want to take a principled stand, then let them take the consequences of not following orders and be court-martialed and sentenced.
But desertion (and that is what it is, no matter how the Times sugar-coats it) isn't a "principle." It is the act of someone without any.
My daughter, I'm happy and proud to say, has the right stuff.
UPDATE: Captain Ed has more on this story.