He stared down at the ocean spreading out below the plane as he daydreamed. Two years in the south pacific helping island nations use technology for sustainable farming practices sounded like Klingon to his Vietnam Veteran father and macho brother.
He watched his older brother raise his right hand two years earlier and join the Army. Not only the Army, but a god damned Ranger. It wasn’t lost on him how proud his father was that morning. Nor how in the car on the way home he watched his father realize that all he had left at home was the bookworm peace activist, how quickly pride turned to confused and visible disappointment.
He watched his brother grow into an adult with an increasingly militarized world view. In that type-a macho world, his brother was thriving. All the more reason he became determined to find a different path.
Growing up he’d adamantly refusing to share his father and brother’s fascination with violent war movies. He just didn’t see anything to glamorize about remembering how someone had successfully figured out how to kill the other person on the battlefield first, he didn’t see how that was victory at all. He wasn’t naive – he knew that sometimes force and the might of a military were required to achieve and sustain peace. He liked to think about modern warfare as a deterrent versus a fist to be used to crush an opponent.
He remembered the look of frustrated relief when he told his father he was leaving for the Peace Corps. That look that said ‘I have no idea what to do with you, so I’m glad you figured out something for yourself.”