Relevance & Proximity

“Do not judge your relevance to this fight by your proximity to the battlefield.”

On my second day at my new job, the above quote was on the wall of the Army facility I was touring.

The comment was made in 2005 by Gen. Dick Cody, Army Vice Chief of Staff, to a crowd of contractor and industry personnel who support the Army by developing and improving new technology (story here). I imagine it’s on the wall to encourage workers who may feel like they are working on some small or remote part that what they do is important to the big picture.

Well, my job is too and I was thankful for this reminder. My job? My job is to write about the success stories of the contract to which I’m assigned. I am to write about successful tests, advances in technology and the people behind the projects. These stories are important for boosting the morale of the workers and for making sure the public and our government officials are aware of the kind of work we do.

As a writer, I’m even more removed from  “the fight” than those working in that facility. But I still have relevance, and I take this responsibility seriously.

I was first made aware of this at NASA, although I think I’ve had some sense of the relevance and influence of writers at each of my writing positions. At NASA, we often wrote to “inspire the next generation of explorers.” We weren’t the scientists or astronauts, but we filled a unique role in furthering the cause of space exploration: the role of educating the public and students about what their space agency was doing and hopefully inspiring them to get involved.

The same is true wherever you are. Everyone plays a role. We must all do our part.


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