This is the second part of a rough draft of work describing my time serving in the US Army and the life that has followed. For PART I Click Here THANK YOU!
PART II – IN HIDING
How are you supposed to react when a person you’ve known all your life says to you, in all seriousness, “we don’t even seem to know you any more?” My reaction to this honest statement of fact was to deflect, to isolate, to just run. It was just the thing I might not have done before, in a previous life, in a space prior to this mask I now wear. The words hit hard. The words hit home. The mask was ripped off like an infected scab. The illusion of my happy life had not only been unveiled, turns out, it was never there at all. It’s not being caught in a lie, rather, it’s that they all knew the mask was a lie all along. How am I supposed to face them? How do I tell them the mask is all that remains?
The clock strikes midnight as I sit here, alone, as far away from home as I’ll ever be. Light streams in through the bare glass of the four windows, east, north, west and south, on this still summer night. At this latitude the sun is like an unbalanced friend. The winter falls hard and the summer slight. I wont be able to see the stars again for what seems like months. Will I ever? Thoughts like this are safe in a place already so distant. This shell of a structure I like to call home, a space looking out in the four known directions, I often consider the trap.
There are men I used to know that seem comfortable with it all? Are they just more at ease with the mask, or was it there all along? I wish I could walk that line between the future and the past. To live in the moment, they say it’s all that there really is. This assessment of reality, in my opinion, feels completely untrue. Like faith in a God that is cool with what comes, I shudder at the thought of such acceptable evil. What I see is the past. What I feel is the future. These are the foundations of my life in atrophy. Picture an ocean as it meets the shore; look for the present, a space between the sand and the sea. Dig deeper, let the past wash away. I came home long ago, yet never was able to touch the shore.
This loss will not be calculated into the next fools war. They’ll consider the caskets and consider the gold, but what about the suffering of those with wounds down deep? It adds up to nothing in the vaults of an immoral economy, an ignorant population marches on, slaves and truants, to the master’s of war. It’s “hooray” for the flag and hell for the children, a pattern that has persisted over millennia. Our projection of evil isn’t new or even clever. Rome would conquer new lands under the guise of relieving oppression, or, even more familiar to our modern history: as a preemption to future, imminent war. Although the truth was quite evident and clear. The Roman Empire never couched their expansion as conquerors, guided by greed and tempted by glory. The PR of the ancient world is no more fresh today. “We’re Rome, we’re only here to help.”
I ask myself, did the Legionnaires of Ceaser and Crassus’ Rome suffer from guilt and shame? I find it difficult to believe this happened in any great numbers. From history it seems clear, a striking difference from that world to this is that Roman propaganda was employed upon the masses, with the troops given the truth. Conquest today is packaged the same for all, public and plebs. This hypocrisy jumped out of the shadows as we once again marched into battle. This fight was not about liberty. This new war had little to do with freedom, for the West or the Middle East. If it was a lie, it was still for; fighting on a lie.Those in the ranks who realized this first, fought both integrity and lead. Fighting on a deliberate lie, killing in the face of dishonesty, these men, us men, have gradually succumbed to this hell, our masks melting away, the conscience proceeds.
The rest of America seems to have largely moved on to new, fresh projections of fear?