Steve came home and told me he was joining the military. I couldn’t understand why a son with such intellectual abilities, who could have had so many choices in continuing education, was joining the military. Was it nature or nurture? Few of my son’s ancestors had served in the armed forces. I’m not aware of any military careers going back on those lines. Nature is probably not the culprit. It doesn’t run in the family. Steve had a stellar beginning to his life. His parents were both loving and involved. Parenting involved a mother who was realizing her dream of being a stay at home mom. She read to him and his brothers. They went on learning activities. I traveled a lot when he was a child, but his mother always involved the children in learning about new people and cultures from the places I visited. We spent time together as a family. He did well in school and in the community. So why was my son joining the military?
At first I thought he was trying to prove something. Steve was the youngest of our three biological children. He was always a little smaller and weaker than his older brothers. Maybe he was joining the military to come back and teach them a lesson. That’s not his personality, though. Steve has never been a fighter. I think that’s what confused me the most about his joining the military.
Maybe it was someone else’s fault. Nurture crumbled when Emily came home. We were finalizing the adoption of two little girls from Russia when we learned that they had older sisters in other orphanages. The oldest, Emily, was so very emotionally and psychologically damaged. We knew it would be difficult. In fact, we sat with our oldest sons and explained some of the trouble that could come with adopting a child with these conditions. We told them that we couldn’t, and wouldn’t bring them into the home without their support. Somberly, they enlisted. Steve even gave up his place in age-order with our children to a new sibling, who for years would show him nothing but hostility and contempt.
Maybe Steve was joining the military to learn to fear nothing. Perhaps his decision was to show everyone that he already feared nothing.
Our oldest daughter did everything she could to intimidate Steve. She did everything she could to hurt him. Emily’s life before our family had erroneously taught her that there were only two types of people in the world; those who abused and those who were abused. She was no longer abused and she determined that she would never return to the other side of that tragic equation. I think that sometimes Emily scared Steve, though his male ego would never let him admit it. Truth-be-known, Emily scared me. Maybe Steve was joining the military to learn to fear nothing. Perhaps his decision was to show everyone that he already feared nothing. Maybe Steve’s decision was Emily’s fault. Maybe it was mine for bringing her home.
Providence, for some reason, chose to give me a life of business and financial success. It wasn’t that I deserved it, earned it, or worked harder than anyone else. Sometimes things just happen. Even so, because of those situations, I learned lots about becoming successful in business and money. Those were lessons I worked at passing on to my sons. At one point, in his teens, Steve lashed out. “Dad! Why do you think everyone wants to make money, like you? Why do you think anyone needs to make money to be successful?” I didn’t read that as him joining the military. Even so, I stuttered. Then I told my son that it was absolutely fine to not make lots of money. But I followed up my statement by telling him that it wasn’t alright to come from where he had, with the talents he possessed, and not change the world for the better.
Wanting to make the world a better place, is not someone else’s fault.
I guess after all it’s my fault. I taught him to do hard things. I tried to help him understand that the greater good is most important, even if it hurts us, personally. I told him to change the world. Then again; no. A man turning out on his own, wanting to make the world a better place, is not someone else’s fault. I don’t know if I even subscribe to the nature or nurture explanation. Today, I can only believe it is heart. And Steve having a heart that wants to make the world better for others is nobody’s fault but his own. If joining the military is how he decides to do that, then how could I complain?
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