The Dogs Who Defend Us

There are 13 qualities that the United States of America seeks in each of its candidates for the Foreign Service Officership. Those 13 qualities, known as the "13 Dimensions" are the guiding light of every US Ambassador. They have to deal with the individual's awareness of the changing world, and their ability to think quickly in an environment that might not be all that "friendly."

That's the definition that you will find on the Foreign Service website. The sleek, dramatic, exciting elements of performing a duty for your country, but the realities of being a US Ambassador to a foreign country or even working in the same building, can be quite a bit less appealing to most people. As with the events of the past few days, this has once again been syphoned through the collective cognitive judication of this country. Being an Ambassador isn't always fun and games.

I've always had it in the back of my mind to apply for the foreign service when I graduate from college. I think it'd it be a lot of fun to be assigned a post in some foreign capital like Paris or Islamabad or Juba. To wake up each morning and know that what I do that day is going to change someone's life. I want to help people, I honestly and genuinely do, and I think being an ambassador to a foreign country would be an amazing way to accomplish that goal.

But, for those of you seeking to be a member of the foreign service, I have a question. How do you respond under pressure? I'm not talking about a little stress over a foreign policy, I'm talking about having a gun held to your head. How do you respond to that type of intense pressure? Do you freeze? Do you fight? Do you keep a level head? Or do you even know? I pose this inquiry because of the realities of life as an ambassador. You are going to be the voice of this nation in a foreign country, and the advisor to the president regarding that country. You will be either the beacon of light that is our nation, or the tyrannical warmonger that is also our nation. Can you deal with people hating you or loving you simply because you belong to this nation? If you can, great!

Have you ever had malaria? Have you ever had to take a shit in the woods? Have you ever been bit by a snake? These are all things that come with the territory, believe it or not. They are rare, but they do happen. You must realize that being an ambassador isn't always the idealistic career path that you thought it would be. Let me not, however, deter you from your decision. I'm sure your hangnail can wait.