Most of y’all know I stuck around long enough to retire in 2016, and went to the corporate world shortly thereafter. To a very mission-oriented financial services company. I had the ‘opportunity’ to participate in a diversity discussion panel today. My role was to provide the military perspective to a group of employees with no direct touch to the military. I was quite amazed at the amount of pushback on the concept of individual merit in all aspects of the discussion. It seemed merit only counted after the fact, which is counter to the military ethos. Really disheartening. Towards the end, I had a few minutes for closing comments and spoke about the diversity in the room. Make/female, race, color, religion, education, age, it was all represented across the spectrum. I asked a rhetorical question whether the group would prefer to blindly hire someone aligned to the mission or selectively choose among candidates who were from under-represented groups. After a brief pause, I asked if they thought our core customer, the active duty military member and their immediate family, would rather be taken care of by someone who was there due to competence and merit or because that person was there due to what they brought to the diversity table. When Mattis first became SECDEF, he gave an impromptu pep talk about how we, the military, needed to stay the course while America got their shit in one sock. That was refreshing to hear. I’m just curious whether or not the ‘rest of America’ is making progress towards that, or if the divides seen in the media aware worsening. What do y’all think? Take away the media and all that shit, what’re your day to day interactions telling you?