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Warriors’ Feasts

On Wednesday I attended two successive AGMs for two organizations of which I am a nominal member. Most who attended probably felt as uninvolved as I did, but our presence was necessitated by the fact that the meetings needed 70% attendance to proceed.

I understood a few things which I accepted as formally correct, but which seemed strange to accept all the same. To be able to gather together once a year in the name of something is enough for legitimacy, by most standards. Actions can legitimately be taken by a small minority in the name of the organization, and if the uninvolved majority remains uninvolved things will proceed. If the organization has enough members, each member need only make a nigh unnoticeable contribution of time or money, and the collated amount will be quite large. It will be at the disposal of the involved minority, because the majority bleeds too little to notice.

These aren’t new or strange thoughts; I think it was Malcolm Gladwell that used the analogy of the wine bottle at the large dinner table. In any case, Time printed similar things to do with bleeding about Europe a couple of weeks back.

Speaking of large dinner table, I attended a gathering of a different sort yesterday night. There were over forty present, mostly current and former commanders of what was once Zulu company (the name’s been changed).The breadth of experience and effort represented inspired awe; the sheer size of the gathering was hard to take in. The newest commanders didn’t know the older ones, but as for myself, having been both a recruit and a commander at the company, I had at least seen all but the oldest batches. The actual overlap time of our association was between two to two-and-a-half years’ time, but that encompasses about ten batches’ worth of experience. In conversation we could wonder at the extent of changes that have taken place, exchange stories of people or events, sometimes the same people or events seen from different positions, and consider the fact that things are different for us because we walked through the place we had in common in our personal histories. The paths diverge before and after, but because of the common segment, wherever we happen to be at the moment looks deceptively like a stage of the same journey someone else has gone through, or is about to go through. And there were great stories.

Mine is a company in an establishment in an organization, and the organization, establishment and company all happen to be convenient and inevitable targets for ridicule or resentment. The company is seldom seen in anything but an unflattering light. Even if I don’t see it negatively, it is my workplace, training ground, bunk room, kitchen and toilet. I see it every day, but almost never have I been able to appreciate the truly great things it represents; good things have usually been enough to keep me going, and even those were a challenge to keep hold of during the bad times, but to think that, without us realizing, great things were transpiring, and that we were in the midst of it all – that was a new thought, and a good one.

My recruits graduated yesterday, and the stragglers leave tomorrow morning. The end is in sight, and now I need to make ready for what comes after. I think that will come a bit easier, with the knowledge and conviction that having brought things forward, I will leave the richer for the time spent, and surer of the way ahead.

Categories: Reflection Tags: ,
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  1. 11 August 2010 at 6:18 pm

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