Smarter than My Parents

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Michael Jones
  • 17th Logistics Squadron Commander
Or I could actually say, I'm smarter than my supervisor, my mentors, and for that case, anyone who has ever gone on before me.

I believe I'm smarter or maybe even wiser because of the increase in knowledge and technological advances around me. Therefore, I must be smarter and wiser.

This seems to be the prevailing mindset of late ... that we are all smarter, wiser than those that have gone on before us. It's hard to say when this idea started ... some may say the late 60s and early 70s or during the early 90s grunge period. Recent generations are being raised under that notion. That technology and knowledge allows us to discard the past and make our own decisions and find our own way. Shall we discard the past and find our own way? Is that the right course or the course that made this nation great?

Our early founders lacked the technology or knowledge available to us today. So then, what has made this nation great? Great American leaders displayed a sense of integrity, work ethic, and the drive to be the best. Our early pioneers emulated that spirit and brought a certain kind of prosperity to the nation, prosperity greater than just riches. The Air Force recognized that character counts by establishing our Core Values. Those same character traits can be easily seen in our forefathers.

It's now obvious where we derive our character from. If it's true that wisdom belongs to the aged and understanding to the old, then our character is molded by the instruction and mentorship of those that went before us.

We should build upon what we have been taught and not discard it. This is what has made our country great: building upon the past, listening to the mentorship of those who have gone before us, and molding their instruction to fit the needs and demands of the future.

Technology and knowledge does not change the rules. It does not lend itself to wisdom nor better equip us for the future. A wise son heeds the instruction of his father or perhaps more appropriately, wise Airmen heed the mentorship of the supervisors. Technology is important and an obvious advantage in battle but as General Patton once said, "Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men."

By itself, technology and knowledge has no capability. It takes Airmen to wield them to become effective. Search through my softball bats and you'll quickly notice some of the best bats on the market. In fact, search through any athlete's equipment and you'll find the same, the best equipment. Yet ask my wife how many times she's watched me play softball and heard someone say, "It's the bat?" And then ask her many countless hours I've spent taking batting practice. My father taught me the importance of practice not the importance of technology. And then you'll know why my wife replies, "It's not the bat." It's the character of the man swinging the bat, the character that my father instilled in me.

In the military, we are no different. Certainly we have the best weapons, but it's not the weapons that make us great. It's the character of the men and women "swinging" those weapons. If we are wise or smart, we'll listen to our parents, leaders, or mentors for from them we derive the characteristics that have made this country great. Once we realize that we really aren't smarter, understand the point of instruction and build upon it with technology and knowledge, we will achieve anything and most importantly, continue this great nation on the path set by those who have gone on before.