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Don't walk by the broken window

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Peter Ridilla
  • 36th Civil Engineer Squadron commander
Have you ever wondered why a slum is a slum? 

I once heard an interesting story of how a slum became a slum. I obviously know the slum wasn't built as a slum, but over time it became one. 


Before I give you that answer, you are probably wondering why do I care about slums? Well, the answer to the slum question may have some parallels to questions we have about our current Air Force. 

So back to the slum question. 

The slum became a slum because of a broken window. How does a broken window make a slum? Because somebody did not fix the broken window and many other people walked by that broken window and didn't fix it either. 

Over time, that broken window was accepted and additional windows were broken and they were also accepted. In a matter of time, the community declined and the area became a slum. 

Now, this is not trying to get into the socio-economic reasons for this decline, but is merely trying to point out that the problem started when nobody fixed the first broken window. 

The Air Force is an organization that relies on standards. In my opinion, very important standards. The minute we ignore these standards and/or allow others to ignore these standards, we are making a statement that it is okay to walk by the "broken window." 

Over time, just like the slum, our decreased standards become the norm and then we start asking questions like - "How did we get into this predicament?" or "Have you noticed the new Airmen don't show the respect we used to show?" and so on. 

The good news for both the slum and the Air Force is this trend can be reversed. With the proper willpower and resources, we can fix the "broken windows." When we let others know it's not okay to walk by the broken window, we've increased their awareness on the importance of standards. 

As the premier Air Force in the world, we cannot afford to allow our standards to slip, therefore, do not walk by the broken window - fix it!

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