Soviet army organizes a large military exercise. Three high-ranking officers – an army general, a navy admiral and an air force commander watch the war games from an observation bunker, drink vodka and argue who has bravest men. They can not reach a conclusion, so the army general calls his troops and yells into a field telephone:
“SOLDIERS! THE MOTHERLAND CALLS! YOU MUST PROVE YOUR BRAVERY IN DIREST SITUATIONS, SO YOU WILL NOW CROSS A REAL MINEFIELD OVER THERE AND TRY TO REACH THAT FORTIFIED HILL NEXT TO THE RIVER WHILE UNDER LIVE ARTILLERY FIRE! YOU HAVE TEN MINUTES TO DO SO!”
The infantry yells “Yes, sir!” and runs over the minefield. Mines explode, wounded soldiers fall everywhere, but most reach the river and swim to the hill. Suddenly, artillery grenades begin to fall, limbs fly in the air, recruits drown, but about half of the soldiers reach the hill and raise a red flag there.
“Meh, that was nothing,” says the admiral, “you know, they were kind of brave, but common infantry soldiers are quite simple. They come from some village in Siberia, have no imagination, do not feel the existential dread that intelligentsia has to overcome to be really brave, yes? On the other hand, navy officers must be educated, have responsibility for their ships and hunderds of people, but still have to do tough decisions. Watch!”
The admiral picks the field telephone and calls captain of a heavy cruiser:
“CAPTAIN! RAMMING EXERCISE! YOU WILL NOW GO FULL THROTTLE TOWARDS THE BATTLESHIP ON THE HORIZON, RAM IT AND SINK BOTH VESSELS! YOU KNOW YOUR DUTY!”
The cruiser accelerates, reaches the battleship and both ships collide. Ammunition explodes, everything sinks, bodies float in the water, but the Motherland has lots of people and lots of ships.
“That was kinda brave,” says the air force commander, “but there was still a chance of survival. True bravery emerges only when there is none.”
He picks the field phone and calls an airbase. A pilot answers.
“PILOT! WE NEED TO SIMULATE A PLANE CRASH. YOU WILL NOW TAKE A MIG-21, FLY INTO THE AIR, REACH HIGHEST POSSIBLE SPEED AND THEN CRASH INTO A MOUNTAIN. NO EJECTION, NO PARACHUTE! NOW!”
The pilot answers:
“Fuck yourself, sir. Not doing that.”
The commander grins, looks at the general and admiral and says: “See? THAT is bravery.”