Thursday, January 28, 2010

They just don't get it

When I was a recruit, the military training staff would periodically designate one trainee as "section senior"* and sometimes "platoon senior"**. The designated individual would wear a brassard with sergeant's rank insignia and was responsible for communicating the wishes of the directing staff to the section and ensuring these were followed. This did not mean the section/platoon senior was actually a sergeant or had any authority beyond what the staff instructed them to do. The appointment was temporary and rotated daily through the rest of the members of formation. It was used essentially to take the burden off the staff, give recruits a limited sense of the leadership tasks, and assess candidates for leadership potential which in turn would be reflected in their assessments. This was clear and obvious to all of us, save one.

In my platoon, we had one particularly 'special' individual. Unique he was in the sense that he took quite a bit of time to grasp simple instructions, and further, just didn't quite get how things functioned in that highly structured environment. If you asked him to pick up an object at point A and move it to point B, he would become confused and ask for clarification. Several times. And then he'd get the thing and bring it to point F. If there was an easy way and a complicated way of doing something, he would invariably do it the complicated way, sometimes to great mirth in the rest of us (and at times self-injury to him). Other times, well, let's just say we did a lot of push-ups on his behalf. It was odd that we all sort of adopted him, despite this. I nearly snorted my coffee recalling some of his antics.

Which brings me to the point of my story. One day in the field, with all of us standing watching our arcs in the stage 4 trenches we'd spent the day digging and reinforcing, something possessed the instructors to make this man platoon senior. Oh dear. Suddenly, in the dark of night, Pte. ____ was heard to scream, at the career infantry sergeants and warrant officers running the show, something like the following: "NO! I'M IN CHARGE! I'M PLATOON SENIOR! YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT I SAY! I'M IN CHARGE! YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!"

Then this morning I read Dawg and CC referencing this special little utterance by Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan:

For him, prorogation is an opportunity for the Conservative government to concentrate on the economy by implementing the next phase of its economic stimulus program and prepare a new budget. If parliament was in session then the opposition parties could vote non-confidence and force an election before those tasks are complete.

“That’s what we don’t want,” said Cannan.

And it dawned on me that the Conservative Party and a great number of its supporters are simply incapable of understanding parliamentary democracy. Harper, I believe gets it and just doesn't like it. But the rest of them have a severe issue of cognitive impairment. Then I wondered if we should feel a little sorry for them, because it means Harper is clearly taking advantage of the slower kids.

*a 'section' is a formation of 8 to 10 soldiers (in the infantry). A platoon is usually a little over 30. 3 sections generally make up a platoon.

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