All, Check out a new firestorm brewing. Interested in everyone's thoughts.
A new dimension of character and leadership development has made strong advances in the military in the last few years - "Spirituality." The
Army's new Global Assessment Test is part of Comprehensive Soldier
Fitness, a $50 million program focused on five dimensions - physical,
emotional, social, spiritual, and family. Those who score low on the
assessment are referred to counseling. The Ft Hood Spiritual Fitness
Center is a cutting-edge facility that explains, "Physical (Body),
Mental (Mind), and Spiritual (Soul)," with its focus being on "spiritual
needs." This term "Spirituality" calls immediately to mind
supernatural "spirits" and religious piety. On the surface, there is
concern that the military is officially endorsing and even requiring a
supernatural or traditional religious viewpoint.
MAAF would hope that by "spirituality," the military might mean
something like character, resilience, or steadfastness. This hope is
encouraged by much of the documentation and purposes of the same
"spirituality" programs. It makes perfect sense that the military would
want to encourage and develop a soldier's ability to hold strongly to
values in the face of the stresses of combat. Knowing the right thing
is not the same thing as doing the right thing. Service members benefit
from a strong foundation of personal values upon which to build the
values of the profession of arms. The stresses of combat take a greater
toll if service members don't have some internal peace and personal
understanding to make sense of the world. A connection to a supportive
community of like-minded individuals enhances the benefits above. These
secular benefits do make sense, but they are different than prayer,
energy, or other things generally associated with "spirituality."
Interested in everyone's thoughts on this and the other details at MAAF. How can we 1) reform the existing 'spirituality' ideas and 2) bring the same values from our community to support resilience in combat, steadfastness, and the ability to recover from trauma?
Hello! and all good and valid (and gratifying!) concerns - thank you. :) You are more correct than many civilians know by saying, "Service members benefit from a strong foundation of personal values upon which to build the values of the profession of arms." Altruists who serve appreciate this. Seriously, no matter how bad this sounds, those of us who have been assimilated into the value system know it is not all a bad thing.
Personally, i, too, have thought about these questions (esp still being on AD).
No, "internal peace and personal understanding" certainly don't require spirituality. To be, they only need a firmly grounded, well-rounded sense of--and reasonable grasp on--reality...based on logic and reason. Not emotion, not unrealistic hopes, dreams, or religion; not by a 'mystified,' unaccountable person motivated by illusions surrounding relationships and circumstances.
This is heartening, though no revelation to a balanced atheist.
Aside, why would internal peace require spirituality at all? After all, babies are born atheists. This is our challenge, to articulate this to the military so they (it) will listen.
As for me, confidence in myself gained simply from knowing who i am, what my values are, why they are, my goals in life, certainty about right and wrong...all create internal peace and personal understanding. One should know one's self to best fulfill one's role in life, yes?
So, finding internal peace entails having a strong value system, but not necessarily one derived of spirituality.
To answer your questions, 1) atheists must keep reiterating, explaining, and providing first hand, real-world examples of how we are sane, productive, moral, upstanding members of society WITHOUT religion. Don't ever stop pushing our credibility until religion has none in ALL quarters!
2) We can bring the same values from our communities by freely using the bonds that friends and families give us through their love and caring. I mean, the very bonds that make us stronger, more diverse, deeper, more caring people, --this includes the value of love. The bonds that connect us, and prove we are human, show we do not NEED religion to be human.
For love does not require spirituality; only acceptance, caring, sharing, empathy, and forgiveness.
Anecdote: I can't tell you how many military chaplains i have told i'm atheist who don't bat an eye. Honestly, i think they're more on board with us than we realize. We can change this spirituality focus/attitude to be more inclusive, at least. Do you agree?
This thing has been arond for a while. We had to do it initially in summer 2009 and then again while we were in Iraq this year. I think it's just like anything else the army does. A half-vast solution to a vast problem (pun intended). This is like the "Year of the NCO", the "Army Family Covenenat" and "Strong Bond". Total nonsense that addresses the need for action in the PR arena but fails to address the real heart of the issue. When was the last time you've heard of a leader having his career stopped because he was hostile to soldiers who needed serious mental help for TBI or PTSD? I found the whole "Comprehensive Soldier Fitness" thing a bunch of crap and I tried to be objective about it for the sake of my soldiers unitl a few of them said "what was that shit about spiritual fitness?"
The "spiritual fitness" thing is not bad but whenever you label anything spiritual in the Army, the ignorant gain momentum. The dominionists leaders and senior chaplains can't get see spirituality in any other context and with Christian Embassy's man, Pete Geren as Secretary, nothing will be likely to change.
today i was forced to do my USAF 'religious freedom training'.
i was very leery at first. However, it turned out to be not so bad, only because the 'training' (which was really more 'awareness enhancement' for bigots) specifically mentioned that the AF definition of freedom of religion also includes the freedom to have no beliefs at all.
In at least three different places in the slides, it specified we all had the same rights whether we had a religion or not.
Bravo! Finally the US government gets something right!
It seems to me that this is the weirdization of the process that's caused by the presence of chaplains.... Now atheists feel they need a touchy-feely 'meditation' session to counter the prayer sessions. If the chaplains hadn't been there before, no one would be giving such a session a second thought, would they?
The real answer to this is to get rid of chaplains, AFAICS. The chaplains are the ones who should be civilians ... unpaid volunteers, don't you think?
In the resilieance training part of the CSF under Spiritual Support there are two videos that are part of slide 10 of 11. The first is some female talking about ill adjustment to divorce and going to church regularly helped get her back on track. The next video is a dude talking about how having a higher power is necessary to cope on deployments because "it's always with you".
And apparently prayer has nothing to do with religion...
I never had the internal peace and understanding that I have now until I became an atheist. Where does that score on the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness bullshit card? Apparently a 567-question test followed by a 30 minute interview based on the test with a pysch formulating your profile isn't enough (I'm not a chicken fucker or the next Nidal Hasan in waiting) . . . I still have to click through this shit . . .
Spirituality sounds like a bullshit word to me, I don't have a spirit, I don't believe in spirits - except the kind with alcohol in them (they're real!). Are the Army Values not enough?