President Obama isn’t the only one who got a numbers bump from the recent killing of Osama bin Laden. Books about Navy Seals have been flying off the shelves. One very good one is The Heart and the Fist by Eric Greitens, a Duke and Oxford educated Rhodes Scholar turned Navy Seal turned humanitarian volunteer.
The Heart and the Fist is quintessentially American. Greitens combines the warrior ethos of toughness and courage with the compassion of a humanitarian.
He starts with conversations with his grandfather, a decorated hero of WWII, and his reflections on the Holocaust, and the mantra of “never again.” But the reality is, it does happen again and again and again. During college Greitens volunteered in Rwanda, Bosnia and with Mother Teresa. He saw that the UN had no real power. They could only bring aid when the guys with the guns allow it. The UN can’t protect anyone—just ask those victims of Srebrenica. He saw that it takes strength and courage to move from good words to great action, and to protect those in need of protection.
After graduating from Oxford, Greitens joined the Navy Seals. The book provides a rare first hand account of the intensive Seal training, culminating with “Hell Week.” My nephew Aaron, who retired from the Seals a couple of years ago confirms Greitens’ account. Seals train men to lead others on the most difficult missions and they succeed.
Greitens served four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. After returning, he used his own combat pay and the disability pay of two friends to start “The Mission Continues,” an organization whose mission is to build an America where every wounded and disabled veteran can serve again as a “citizen leader.” The organization provides fellowships for post 9/11 wounded veterans to work in community-based non-profit organizations. Mentors are provided to assist the vet in developing his or her professional and educational goals.
Greitens maintains that courage and compassion are two sides of the same coin. To live a worthy life requires that we be both good and strong.
Question: Do you feel safer after Bin Laden’s Death?