John McCain was a driven man even before he decided to be a fighter pilot. He seemed to be a man of destiny after he survived five and a half years of torture and prison. Yet he was also a man who strayed early and often from his vows of marriage, and his second wife was a mistress before they were wed. McCain’s children had issues accepting this, and you should too, but only to a degree. McCain was flawed, I’ve said that before, but we all are in some way. McCain’s flaws were just more public than most.
The internet in general, and now the ubiquitous and omnipresent video camera, make the world a less private place. Once, I was singing in my truck in the parking lot of a store and I realized a young woman had her cell phone pointed at me. Can you imagine being on YouTube as “Old Guy Singing Maroon 5 Horribly!” It’s the world we live in now. Children are growing up in a world where everything they say and do, likely, is being recorded.
People like McCain aren’t going to exist anymore. The one thing you might not know about John McCain is that he could be loud, abrasive, and profane. I was like that early in my life, but I took a job that had a Human Resources Department and they had Sensitivity Training twice a year. The supervisors that once pushed people hard, and got results, were replaced by very polite people who asked employees to do their jobs, if it wasn’t too much trouble.
I’m not saying that supervisors have to be abusive or harsh to do a good job, but if you’re training for combat I would recommend that you not tell a platoon, “Buckle up, Kittens!”
In December of 1944, a surprise attack by Nazi forces against an American line depleted by soldiers on leave and by the idea the Germans were beaten, was nearly broken. One hundred miles away, George Patton and the Third Armor Division stopped fighting, wheeled hard to the north, and closed on the attacking Germans in less than three days.
Patton’s nature was to be profane. How he got that many men and that much equipment that far that fast has created legends and more than one movie.
Yet Patton was a man whose career was nearly ended because he slapped a soldier.
Great Times produce Great People. These are not those times, and we are producing fewer people who could be a Patton, or a McCain, or a Martin Luther King, Jr. The times are too good for there to be a Malcolm X, or a Gandhi. There is no place for an Elizabeth I or Harriet Tubman.
As we see others judged by how they appear in the most recent video, or one from a decade ago, we modify our behavior to keep from falling victim to the All-Seeing Internet. We’re training people, and our next generation of leaders, to expect judgment, and to issue judgment, and there is no room for the mistakes that lead to learning experiences that lead to greater things.
We’re weeding out the giants. We’ve become a nation of unforgiven and flawed people who are unwilling to allow personal mistakes to be part of the past. I think this is the path to times when we will need Great People once again, and we will have to trust none of them were caught singing poorly in public.