National Service can be a stunningly accurate simulator of the real working world out there.
Yes, it took me this long to realise that. It happened while I was griping about the lack of benefits that others take for granted: not that I would have played soccer more frequently were I to be allowed to, it was a matter of principle.
I rationalised that being the best platoon that does the toughest work in the battalion, we must be accorded with corresponding advantages that should remain out of reach to others. Sounds reasonable? The sad reality does not even match the benefits others enjoy: while we scouts continue to go for training in the out-field, others stayed back in camp to conduct sleeping sessions in their bunks. Some even had the opportunity to go on off.
I was already starting to be-moan the situation when something inside took hold of me (sort of like the kind of feeling you get when "realisation smacks you upside in the head"). Isn't this the real world? Differing work loads, differing kick-backs, and hugely differing forms of treatment. I sat down next to my bed while the rest of the JC graduates in my bunk continued to rant against the unfairness bestowed upon their unfortunate self. For the first time, I understood the downgraders who left the platoon, the actions of men who hate their current situation, but are afraid to rock the boat. The sad thing was that short of breaking one's limb, there is no real way of changing vocations (this being national service, and already, this platoon is short of fit guys to go out there and die for the country). It would have been a terrible thing, if not for the fact that this is National Service.
As the word connotates, we are in the service of the nation: that means we give up personal comfort, insecurities and even our lives for the nation, and the differing amounts of sacrifice that we make is immaterial: we are all just doing our part for the country. So what if I suffer more than others in service? The nobility in such a sacrifice more than makes up for the discomfort of "not being able to play soccer". Already, scouts are recognised for the amount of tough work that they do, and isn't the jungle hat an affirmation of that fact? Perhaps some of us need to take a step back, and view things as they currently stand. Maybe we are being too selfish in demanding too much? As some have put it, "Ask not what the nation can do for you, but what you can do for the nation". That is what National Service is about. Let's not forget that.