Thursday, July 02, 2009

Restraint of pen and tongue

It seems as though there are a lot of military-types who come through Summer Camp. Yesterday I heard that one person was on Post with whom I've had some issues in the past.

Friends of mine who go to a lot of AA and Al-Anon meetings have told me that Bill W., the co-founder of AA with Dr. Bob S., wrote somewhere that "Nothing pays off like restraint of pen and tongue."

I've always found that hard to believe, quite frankly.

But I decided to exercise some of that yesterday when our paths crossed.

You see, when I was in the process of seeing whether I could get a commission in the Army as a Chaplain at my advanced age, and without prior military experience, a couple of "interest groups" (shall we call them?) got into a tug-of-war over me.

The skirmishes escalated to a point such that a very, very high-ranking individual got involved and made a decision in favor of one of the parties involved, to the exclusion of the other. This was not very good news for me, as it meant many hassles, more paperwork, and two missed trips to Asia that summer.

It also meant having to travel across the country to go to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), when I can see the local one from my home of record!

Rather than rehash here a rather frustrating experience, suffice it to note that the individual I mentioned above wound up publishing an order (almost four months after I'd been commissioned) which would have reduced me in rank to a First Lieutenant (1LT) , simply because the individual was upset that I'd been commissioned as a Captain (CPT).

That person and I had never met at that point, and had only spoken by phone once (the day the person discovered I'd been brought in as a CPT). I didn't find out about the reduction-in-rank order until months later when I just happened to be examining my files on one military site on the web I'd never visited before.

That order hadn't taken effect because of poor timing on the individual's part, it seems, so the reduction in rank never took place (well, at least not yet!), but it's still in my official file, which is more than a little annoying.

Upon hearing the person was spotted on Post, I really had hoped that we'd not wind up in the same place at the same time, but alas! that was not to be.

Instead, as it became clear that I'd have to speak to the individual, I prayed: God bless this person with every good gift I could wish for myself or those I love most.

Because of that prayer, I believe, I remained courteous and perhaps even cordial. I chose deliberately not to mention anything associated with my accessions process or the person's actions subsequent to my commissioning.

I guess Bill W. was correct after all.

Nothing pays off like restraint of pen and tongue: I didn't say or do anything untoward, unbecoming, or unkind.

Hooray for the Higher Power (as friends of mine who go to a lot of AA and Al-Anon meetings say)!

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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seg said...

Do you think he remembered you?

Katie A. said...

I think, actually, you finally acted your age! LOL! Usually it is at those times, too, that we never really get to say how we truly feel and always end up with a list of regrets any way. You looked like the better person in the end.
I think I will take note of that little blessing, we can all take a page from your book as well as Bill W and Bob S's.

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