If I could be granted one simple wish before leaving this world, it would be that I had somehow captured on paper the genesis of this sadness and grief I endlessly suffer. I so want to leave an expression of my frustration and guilt that one day, a long-lost friend or loved relative might read and somehow “get it,” somehow comprehend the level of internal, immutable struggle. Leaving this world behind vacant of that record, ironically, or paradoxically, as it were, bends my will ever so slightly to live, if only in hopes of discovering those words.
That conversation aside, the present nature of things, politically speaking, have sunken to depths I’d otherwise assumed impossible. Can it really be true that our, some might say, “great society” has been lost to a celebrity worshiping, dumbed down, get rich quick ethos so prevalent that a buffoon the likes of Donald Trump could actually be elected the President of the United States? Could it be that I surrendered my future to fight for an America that can name more Kardashian’s than Supreme Court justices? -a recent poll finds that 81% of Trump supporters and 65% of Clinton supporters could not name even 1 current SCOTUS judge- As a white male growing up in America, the concept of “white privilege,” in retrospect at least, was supremely evident. Yet, could I have actually brought myself to enlist in 2001 to fight for a country that is, in fact, so prejudice to nominate a man like Donald Trump as the GOP contender for POTUS? Why would anyone in their right mind volunteer to fight on behalf of a nation -at least halfway around the world- so divided at home, for the idea of another’s freedom elsewhere?
I actually like Donald Trump. What I do not care for, what I find depressing and pernicious, is the simple fact that I fought for a country, suffered, experienced others suffering, put friends in body bags even, that considers Trump suited for the job Commander-in-Chief. Can there be anything worse on a spiritual level than to discover your sacrifices were not only unnecessary, but harmful? That this man speaks to an electorate so many have given so much to protect, is disheartening and jarring. My guilt is such that no amount of time will ever heal the burden. The realization that not only did my service harm fellow human being’s so irrevocably, but that it produced a sense of righteousness within those perpetrating the ongoing tragedy, squeezes me so tightly within, that finding air to breathe becomes ever more difficult. Not only did I temporarily prop up the madness, I lost my future to its pervasive continuance.
As a person, I don’t like Hillary Clinton. As a politician I find her deplorably acceptable in a moment of terrible strain. Unlike Trump in his role as a politician exposing the worst in our society, Hillary represents the worst of our political system at large. “Stronger Together?” Not unlike her campaign in general, her meaningless slogan represents her largest flaw, which from my perspective is: Does she want to be president because that’s what’s next, so to speak, because if I were asked, I couldn’t tell you why she wants to be the next POTUS? So Donald Trump isn’t? This truth is overlooked largely by the media, yet I believe it heavily represents her seeming inability to brush The Donald aside, as I suspect many other Democratic candidates would quite easily. Comparing herself to Trump when pressured to explain her own actions comes across as mealy-mouthed and cynical.
There is a difference between Veteran’s of WWII and the Vietnam War. Much of that static seems to me related to the feelings of guilt and shame I, and many other War on Terror vets live with. Not only did we encounter the loss, stress, confusion and pain of war, but many of us discover the fight was fought on some big lies and manipulation. WWII Vets could/can at least find solace in the fact that their sacrifices were made for the greater good. That they suffered in truth, sacrificed in the name of justice. Sure, PTSD was common throughout the community of WWII Vets, however, the process of healing was amplified through the lens of righteousness. A simplistic opinion, maybe, but not necessarily incorrect.
I’d like to add more to this essay later, for now I must sign off and try to recollect my thoughts. But if I don’t make it back, it’s important for me to express one final thought: I don’t blame anyone for my condition, despite the possibility my words could be interpreted as so. My decision to jump into this war was made voluntarily and within the context of my historical knowledge of the world. I did it to myself….and maybe that’s what hurts the most? I wish I could take it back. I want to heal so badly. The reality is that I’m so lost, so broken and bent, that I will not. Good night-