Immediately after Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover came out, my Facebook feed was filled to the brim with happiness and hope and support and all kinds of wonderful, positive things, among them kudos on the bravery of doing something like that.
Then, shortly after that, I saw half a dozen of those wounded vet memes that throws the word bravery back in our faces. And it disturbed me. So I whipped up a Facebook status update and gave it back to Facebook, and it started a conversation that ended up going in a completely different direction.
But I wanted to record the original post here on this blog, because Facebook is impermanent and it’s hard to find status updates from long ago. Sticking it on a website makes it easier to find.
Here is what I wrote:
Here’s something that’s bothering me, Facebook.
“Oh, you think Caitlyn Jenner is so brave? Well, here’s a picture of a military veteran who lost two limbs.”
I think you guys are missing the point. It’s a different kind of brave. You don’t need to be a dick about it. That’s kind of like doing this:
“Oh, you think that kid who stood up to a bully is so brave? Well, here’s a picture of a military veteran who lost two limbs.”
“Oh, you think that friendless kid with horrible social anxiety who went to his class party anyway is so brave? Well, here’s a picture of a military veteran who lost three limbs and a kidney.”
“Oh, you think that mega-church pastor’s son who came out as gay is so brave? Well, here’s a picture of a military veteran who lost both legs and still runs marathons.”
“Oh, you think that girl who pressed charges against her rapist even though she was immersed in a victim-blaming small-town society is so brave? Well, here’s a picture of a military veteran who lost both arms and still does push-ups.”
Apples to oranges, you guys.
No one is disputing that our country’s military men and women are super-brave. Firefighters and cops, too, for that matter, and also those engineers who climb to the tops of those ridiculously tall radio towers.
And those vets that get wounded but still continue to do awesome things? They blow my mind with how awesome they are. I am in total agreement with you on that.
But it’s not a most-brave competition. Just because someone hasn’t served in the military doesn’t mean they can’t be brave in their own way, and it doesn’t mean they can’t inspire others.
This is America. There’s like 310 million of us, and we’re all unique and complex and weird, and some of us need different heroes.
So how about less derision and more celebration, yeah?
Comments are open, so feel free to drop your opinion. Fair warning: be careful what you say, the internet is forever.