A friend of mine recently signed up for the Special Forces, and he sent along some thoughts on why he did it. Suffice to say it's not exactly the normal reason. I'm reprinting it below with permission.
"I was finally feeling cracks begin to form in my skull from the benign day-to-day life of this place. While fun, the school work wasn't exactly challenging me. I had been working two jobs since I came up to [REDACTED], leaving very little time to actually have an "American College experience" (not that I can say I would have enjoyed such a lifestyle any more or less). I came up here thinking I'd find something different. I assumed that, through school, I could find something to eventually do with myself. Instead, I found a city full of people happily headed down a path of materialism and overconsumption. Even in my "environmental science" classes, I found a generation of people who babble about how important recycling is to our survival before driving their range rovers back to [REDACTED] for the night. Most of the people I have met here are quite content to get a degree, mortgage a house, get a job to pay the mortgage, buy a car to get to their jobs, and buy a bunch of shit to fill their newly-mortgaged house. When I ask people what they want to "Do," I usually receive a response about salary and lifestyle rather than aspirations. For instance, my roommates (who I consider friends), worry about what size their flat-screen TV's are, what kind of Audi they drive, how green their lawn is, what bar they'll hit up that night, etc. I ask them again what they want to "DO," and they look at me like I'm deranged before saying, "I just told you" (meaning the TV, car, etc.).
"Being surrounded almost entirely by this kind of lifestyle/culture/whatever-the-fuck-it-is for 3 years now, I have become terrified of ending up living out such a life. And their aren't many other options in this society. Everything seems to steer you down that same path. Every little rebellion against this status quo, no matter how slight, seems to be emotionally taxing. And because I don't share the ideals of most of the people around me, I am essentially living at odds with most of the people around me. I have to bite my tongue so often I've thought of just cutting it out for efficiency's sake. The banality that our society seems to strive for is overwhelming in it's totality. Everywhere, all the time, the people here seem content to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Sure they have a job, a car and a 56" flat-screen with 400 channels. But they don't seem to actually DO anything. Further, the more I live here, surrounded by this, the more I seem tempted to just give in a follow them down their easy road of suburban decay. So I decided to leave.
"The Army, for all it's structure and gung-ho nonsense, is a perfect place for me to get away from the society that I simply wasn't built for. In the military, at the very least, I will know my actions will have consequence, for better or worse. No more worrying about paying rent or missing the bus or my roommates having panic-attacks because our lawn isn't green enough. Instead I can worry about things that ACTUALLY MATTER, if only for a moment at a time. I don't agree with the foreign policy that drives our military, but I'm ok with that. Regardless of whether an armed conflict is a force for good or not, it is A FORCE. War is what shapes history and promotes progress, in a very precipitous and drastic way. I don't really care what the "mission" of the Army is, I'm just along for the ride; to witness history being made first-hand. I don't like the idea of fighting for "American society," which, for the reasons I've listed above, I don't really fit into. But this is a chance to experience life in its most distilled and elemental form. Reading about your experiences in the PC, I have felt a distinct envy for you and your life away from here, away from all this shit."
I've got some more thoughts brewing on that, but I'll let it sit for the time being. Any thoughts from the audience?