That same “lowest life form” phraseology was used in my first book, The Ensign Locker. The character in that book had been former enlisted and expected a little respect for having served as long as he had. The respect, however, was not forthcoming. Whatever he’d done before counted as nothing. Now he was an officer and he started from zero, the same as a fuzzy-cheeked ROTC-path ensign.
After I shifted to the flying navy, I arrived in my first squadron as a Lieutenant (I capitalize it because it was generally considered an exalted life form), but I was immediately smacked low by lieutenants (junior grade) who had experienced combat in a recently completed deployment. As the newest pilot, with no combat experience, I was the lowest life form. Again.
We humans have invented many ways of demeaning others, casting them as lower, or lowest, life forms, to exalt ourselves.
I went out onto the web searching for a photo of a sailor wielding a swab. It had been my intention to use that photo and say that I had pushed a swab just like that any number of times, that guys in my boot camp company told me, “Someday you will make a good wife for some woman.” My point was going to be that you pass through many versions of “lowest lifeform-hood,” but you don’t have to stay there. Instead of a swab-jockey photo, I found this.
Do you see what I see? A diminutive recruit company commander instructing a Dick Butkus sized dude, with intelligence shining on his face, the precise way to render a salute. And can you see in that picture, that the company commander, the recruit himself, and every person he would ever salute, are all superior life forms. Superior to what I was, and to all the other life forms swimming with me through the sea of life, when I was a boot.
And can you see that recruit company commander is female and that Dick Butkus’s skin is black? And can you see that those two things do not mean one dad-burned hill of beans?
Thanks for your coment, Mr. E-5. You can’t see it, but I’m saluting you just now.