When facing a dangerous enemy, a good leader takes every possible precaution,
but avoids hate. Gratuitous animosity is an indefensible political ploy, not
good leadership. Hitler was an expert at harnessing the political power of
hate and fear, and he used that power to change the world. But when people
are driven by hate and fear, they make mean and ugly decisions, so their new
world is meaner and uglier than the old one. All he wanted was unquestioned
obedience. He used hate and fear to make his own people unable to think for
themselves. A good leader wants followers thinking for themselves and working
together. He wants to know if anyone has a better idea. The "axis of
evil" speech is an example of gratuitous animosity used to grow hate among
followers, and fear among adversaries.
Leaders are responsible for the attitude of their followers. A hateful
attitude is very contagious, and horribly destructive. A responsible leader
avoids hate, even when it's well deserved. A truly evil enemy expects hate in
return. Promoting hate could even be his objective. Hate consumes tremendous
emotional energy, it disables all other feelings, and it prevents people from
thinking for themselves. Avoiding hate confuses an enemy, and it helps your
own people keep their sensibility. Courage has a humble and loving quality,
from knowing the sacrifice of others up close and personal. It is not
compatible with hate. You must turn away from hate before you can feel
courage. Be aware that people can change. When others turn away from
hate and feel courage, it's often a very sudden and complete change, as if
they just discovered heaven, and just realized they were in hell before.
When you fill your heart with the sacrifice of others, you feel courage. It
feels as if you, or at least they, belong in heaven and you feel compelled to
act as if you belong in heaven too. When you fill your heart with hate for
your enemy, it feels as if you are in hell with them, and you feel compelled
to act as if you belong in hell too. Both these attitudes are very contagious,
and it has a profound effect on everyone around you.
As a young Naval Officer, I convinced about 200 Marines to turn away from
hating their enemy. It was dangerous, but worth the effort. They were angry,
and spent their time fighting each other and telling horrible stories about
torture and killing people. When there were death threats, two of the youngest
Marines decided on their own to spend the first night protecting me from the
other Marines. It made me feel humble, watching those two young Marines
sitting there with their rifles, all night. They looked very determined.
Maybe it made the older Marines feel humble too. Older guys can have lots of
emotion "invested" in hate. A Marine Colonel Chaplain said his people were
scared of these guys. Later, two Marine Colonels said I accomplished in six
days what a team of experts had been unable to accomplish for six months, and
that these guys now wanted to follow me anywhere. In between, these guys
spent hours crying and hugging each other. Feelings about the sacrifice of others,
up close and personal, had been held back for years. They now said they were
NOT tough guys, they had courage, and courage comes from the heart. By the
way, these guys were much tougher with courage than before, and they were
While the personification of evil makes a great scapegoat, every evil I have seen
has been human in origin, and men of courage have no use for scapegoats. In the
submarine, when I was working near dangerous radiation, several guys would
crowd around, so I had to look over their shoulders to see. I just thought it was
strange at the time, but they were acting as a shield. It was just one more
sacrifice lovingly given. When evil comes, their desire is to pay the price, and
move forward. With increasing numbers of very young men eagerly willing to
pay the price, it's hard for evil to persist. Many old, tough, guys have a change
of heart and beg forgiveness. Tony said he was determined to pay the price for
every bad thing every damn one of us has ever done. It's hard to explain, but
it's like forgiveness on steroids. It makes everyone even more eager to sacrifice
themselves, like Tony, and feel like they are already in heaven.
Since the first good man gave his life, just to save mine, I am immune from hate.
It was so simple, really, and unexpected. He just said "I can't let you do it
(the job) because you're the only guy onboard with good ideas. We still need
you, if this one doesn't work." He arranged for two more guys to be there, just
to drag me away. Afterward, he was offered strong medications for pain, for
sleep, even for death. He refused them all, just so he could tell me he was still
really happy he did it (the job), before he died. He said I taught him about
"love". I would have called it "courage". Minutes later, he was dead. He was
EM1 Anthony B. Nelson. To us, "Tony". You only have to read Ernie Pyle,
or Theodore White, or Winston Churchill, to find such uncommon courage was
a common virtue in earlier generations. Men of courage are always cheerful,
and help each other, even in the most horrible of conditions.
I learned this from seven UDT/Seals who were determined to pay the price for
every bad thing they had done, and 65 UDT/Seals who flew in from around the
world to help.
Tony had said I would tell him exactly what he needed to hear before he died.
In the end, he became hateful and angry at Washington experts who caused
our problems in the submarine. He was inconsolable. When nothing else
worked, I told him heaven does not allow hate. If he prefers hell, they have
more than enough. I did not want him taking hate there either. That was
when he suddenly started crying and talking about happiness and love.
Attitude really does make a big difference.
That's what I remember from my horrible experiences. Not hate.
In the hope it might someday be useful, I wrote everything down.
See start .
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