According to a Gallup Survey, published on June 17, 2016, military is the social institution which commands highest respect in US. Its confidence ratings are at 73% and for over a decade, have held sturdy at north of 70%. Small businesses enjoy the second spot at 68% while US police are third at 56%.
In fact the US society values the people serving in armed forces so much that they are given special perks and privileges and often greeted with the words “thank you for your service to the nation”.
Now this fact leads us to some inevitable conclusions, contrasts and comparisons:
1) As a society which is forever organized for war ( 20% of its total federal budget or around 800 Billion dollars are annually earmarked for defense spending) it looks like their democratic doctrine of “for the people, by the people and of the people” needs a wholesale upgrade….”by force, on force and for the force”.
2) Spartans in ancient Greece were a society which prided themselves on their fighting skills. This meant they entered war more often than their pacifistic counter-parts Atenians. This is owing to the institutional imperative where if you have a mobilized army you are tempted to use it often; both as a self expression and as a way to justify its existence.
3) Most of the wars that US has started or entered since world war 2, are considered errors by its own citizens including : Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan ….and yet the confidence in its military might and its efficacy does not wane. An intelligent person on fools errand is thus not a fool but still a savant. Figure this one out for its irrationality.
4) The values like democracy, social justice, rule of law that America pontificates to the world are not the values that Americans themselves have highest confidence in. Contrast this value talk with its action of being the largest Arms exporter in the world and also siding with despots and dictators, whenever need arises.
5) Another country who would have a similar high confidence index in their military as opposed to all other social institutions ( in their case, cumulatively) would be Pakistan. Thats the proverbial strange bedfellow which US has that makes life interesting.
Most criticism of others is merely verbalised introspection. This then brings us to the thought ….what would most Indians have the highest confidence on, in terms of their own societal institutions.
After scanning post independent constructs like judiciary, military, politics, business, space program, education system….I couldn’t accept any as meriting great social esteem.
Only candidate, which to my mind still enjoys the highest social confidence amongst most Indians would be the ancient practice of Spirituality. Most Indians still believe yoga, meditation and tenets of mystic philosophy to be inviolable and worthy of cherishing.
If it be so, it is indeed a sad commentary on the current state of our nation and on the achievement of our generation. We seem to be a nation with very strong roots but with an equally weakened foliage (leaves cover).