SHOW ME HOW TO LIVE IN YOUR PRESENT, MY BELOVED

Eternal loss; we were not the first to experience such chronic, cathartic suffering. In the immediate aftermath one drifts like fresh snow, inconsolable and building. The damn days crawl into weeks, months, the forces of gravity, time arrested within the space, slowly diminishing past truths. It’s as if the total mass of my being slowly evaporates.

The burden of the grief, that weight decreasing the further onward we plow. The crushing forces of regret and sorrow wrapped around my heart like a Boa, an evil snake which could never be pardoned, no such reprieve, no such mercy. I could run, but not race. I can fly, but not soar.

Even on this winter’s night, some 10 short years later, the terrible pain lingers, in an acute unrequited love, through a strain that uncolors every fresh beam of light.

You may not know this, but the few years I studied at university, I majored in physics. The laws and rules of science heavily influence my process of rational -or irrational, as it were- thought. After the great scientist and thinker Albert Einstein published his Theory of General Relativity way back in the very early 20th century, a new, confusing way of possibly describing time and space developed: that the past, present and future, everything we know of history and all that we will experience of the future, are all happening right now. That is, our perception of the world we live in is little more than an illusion.

I struggle to envision a truth so antithetical to my perception. What does it mean? What does it say about our primitive understanding of the greater beyond? And in some way, these possibilities stifle my reason and prevent my life’s advancement? The unknown unknowns lend oxygen to that ancient ember of hope, rather than the more comforting belief in heaven and hell; that which strikes upon faith.

That she’s really better off in that next life where it’s written we could be together again. It strikes me square in the face: religion is but a clever tool created by men, that all men could bear the heaviest of loss.

If I’m wrong, so what of it? If I’ve thought wrong and the answer indicts my complete lack of faith, I’ll pay that price in a new Hell I suppose.

Show me how to live in the present with you still present, my love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If Our Love Has No Beginning, My Hate Has No End. #loveletter #atonement

If you could send me even the smallest clue, I’d give it my all and everything to hang on and be true. Are you out there somewhere in the aether, some greater dimension? Are you a part of the universe, or have pieces of you shattered and scattered, adrift on a plane without direction or meaning? If all that is left are the tiniest of pieces, then how is it that a complete picture of you dances above, so calmly, so frantic, upon the darkest of night? Are you there, is it you, or a brutal allusion cast upon my tomorrow? I lie asleep; am I only watching nightmares that loop? Are we all endlessly waiting? 

You know, don’t you? You remember the pledge we made, that morning, under a vanishing rainbow? You claimed we could be copies of ourselves for eternity, tattoos upon the skin of our ancestors broken, bleached bones.

Funny, I can still recite so many of our ridiculous vows, even after all this time. Even after your final climb, alone, through the atmosphere. I can’t let them go, like I can’t hold on. So I stand here alone, on this stormy shore, hoping a message will wash up on the land that shakes. It is forever rolling, shaking over the undertow. 

Is this battle I’m waging worse than the wars I fought so far from here? Would you even know me still, under the skin and in spite of these scars that still bleed and ooze? Would you be the one to save me, or would I bleed out, cold and shivering in the understanding shade of your shadow?

Guess I’ll never know? Not guess, not me, my love; Not anymore.

So wherever you might be singing tonight, in sparkling pieces or whole, I pray so hard for your comfort and reduce the rest of my gratitude for a pocket to keep alive, but small.

They say atoms can entangle. Those that have combined, have collided with enough force to connect. It’s a mystery of science, so it seems, the spooky motions in perfect unison over distances equal to the age of the stars. Equal to the distance of infinity. So much we cannot comprehend my dear. My beloved.

These little morsels of atomic mystery and doubt and theory: they burn so hot within me sometimes. I could never completely let you go when so much is still misunderstood. None of us live in this place forever. They can’t keep me here.

Please don’t be angry with me or chastise me… “you fool, quit wasting your time.” Funny thing, there is no time remaining, only space offering the faintest of hopes. You’re still out there, I can really feel it; or at least synapses flash now and then, gritting my teeth, driving me on through the storm.

You’d be proud of my service to duty, of that I am certain. It’s all I ever wanted you know; to be tested and make it through the cauldron and back to you. Alas, I scrambled and toiled and killed and cried and burned and hurt and suffered the eternal longing, only to lose you at the end.

Like a commandment broken, I was atoned of that beyond my control, the ultimate sacrifice, you. That feels so self-centered, does it sound so? Nevertheless, I judge myself responsible for thus, reckoning and pain that creeps along beside me, like the bloody servant of Job.

All I ever wanted was us, and I sacrificed that for the gravest of sin. Two wrongs cannot make it right. There is no other way to live day-to-day with this smell of death upon my hands.

But am I really living? Are you really dead? Are you gone? Maybe this is all upside down and I cannot even see what I truly am? That I’m the one in hell? Are you still at home while I burn in this fire, suffering close to silently, nearer and nearer the final destination I scrape along, prolonging the destiny of ashes cemented in black back when?

If this is hell, this is where I am.  If this is life, where do I begin? If this is death, how will it end?

I can almost taste you, my love. I can almost touch you, touch me. I miss you always. I miss you already.

 

 

SMALL TOWN, BIG ISSUES.

It’s playing out like some lost episode of Twilight Zone or here in my temporary hometown. For such a small population the drama here runs deep, with much of it, in one way or another, orbiting the local city police department. Let me briefly share some observations and quickly describe some of the recent events.

Recently, the newish police chief, hired from out-of-state within the past couple years I believe, was placed on administrative leave, according to local reporting, after a complaint was filed by the former police chief accusing him of unethically moonlighting his private security company. Apparently, after a local business contacted the department asking for an assessment regarding reducing theft by shoplifting, the good chief said “we don’t really have time for that, but my business has you covered for as little as $600.” So tacky. Not surprising though considering the fact that the local Walmart had life-size cutouts of him in uniform at the entrances looking scary and pointing like, “don’t even think about stealing shit here.” These displays have disappeared. Huh?

Maybe a month ago, an officer responded to a call reporting gunshots only to somehow having his weapon taken by a man who attempted to murder him, firing like 6 9 mike-mikes into him before driving off in his prowler. Another words, the poor Sergeant was captured responding to a call involving known weapons, 5 blocks from the department. The story seemed like it would have a happy ending? The fucker was caught and the officer survived….only to die 10 days later during a relatively safe surgery on a damaged eye. So sad.

The weird part of this story, beyond an experienced officer being captured, is that supposedly the night he left for work he told his kids that “I think I am going to be shot tonight.?” What’s up with that? It’s not like this is South-side Chicago or West Baltimore. You envisioned being shot, then, responding alone to a shots fired call you get yourself captured…beside your own prowler? It just seems incredibly unfortunate?

The latest piece of de-di-de-di Twilight Zone, is last weeks supposed murder/suicide at a local motel on Thanksgiving, with the crime discovered the following day, according to the local paper? The initial report went: 4 found dead in room after employee found man crying in hallway. Employee looked in room then phoned 911. The “person” is not considered a suspect. Then today it comes out that the man was the father of the man who supposedly committed the crime, the husband of the older victim and grandfather of infant. The young lady, wife of suspect, was also murdered for no apparent reason, or at least no reason discovered to this point? 

A horrific tragedy that deserves more answers considering what we think we know. See, the man who was found outside the room crying is a former local police officer. 2005 to 2009. No information as to why he worked for only 4 years? Maybe transferred to a different agency? We don’t know, but the story is they were staying at the hotel due to them leaving the state soon. Huh? They lived here all this time but need to stay in hotel before leaving? The initial story included the young woman’s employer gushing over how well they liked her. Nothing about her leaving the state or her job? 

4 people are dead, so yes, something is terribly wrong. And yes, the police may know more and aren’t saying yet? The unknown knowns we have today would cause anyone to do a double take, right? The reporting so far has many holes, so many I won’t even begin. No matter what else comes out, or doesn’t, the scale of this tragedy feels enormous and must be impossible for anyone personally involved. I can’t even imagine.

I said all that to say this: a small town, too much tragedy and crap for just 3 months.

The final creepy chapter here has only tangential meaning. About 2 months ago I had a conversation with a friend of mine -who is Air Force police- about people who travel in the city openly carrying a sidearm. In my opinion, if you feel the need to be armed in public, get a concealed carry permit. The idea that openly brandishing a weapon in public, in the United States, makes most people unnecessarily uncomfortable and offers zero confidence in heightened safety. I could make an exception for the man or woman headed into the wild or returning, say, at the gas station or whatever. But wearing your .45 to lunch at Subway is wholly  inappropriate and ignorant.

The reason I brought the subject up was that that very day I encountered two different people armed in this manner. Both clearly made the situation uncomfortable with their decision, judging by the furtive glances by both employees and customers at the businesses. The creepy thing is, when a photo was released of the murder/suicide family, the young man accused of the crime was one of the very same men who were open carrying that day in Carl’s Jr. I remember clearly because later, we also ran into him and his wife with their infant at Starbuck’s, sparking the conversation. Weird.

This is a detour from my typical posts, I know. I hope it wasn’t too boring? Have a nice day! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quit Knee-Jerking us Around @realDonaldTrump #flagburning

Eating breakfast this morning I happened to catch a report on CNN about some University in Massachusetts where a group of students had burned an American flag in response to the election of Donald Trump. It wasn’t clear -or I missed- whether more than a single flag had been destroyed, or several. My immediate reaction was “big deal, who cares?” And then the story progressed….

The local Mayor city was interviewed. His opinion was something like, and I am paraphrasing: many veteran’s attend this college and this act was tantamount to treason. That it was totally disrespecting their sacrifice….blah-babaty-blah-blah. It wasn’t clear if the Mayor is a veteran himself though, nevertheless, as I see it, in this case, it makes zero difference.

And of course -disturbingly- our Prez-Elect Trump already tweeted about the situation. Something like: people who burn the flag should go to prison, or, lose their citizenship? Yikes! Albeit, most of what Trump says erupts from a sense complete ignorance, in my humble opinion, as it were. Tomorrow he might completely reverse this position -after speaking to some attorney he respects- similar to his about-face on torture….or not, who fucking knows? Point being, a POTUS so utterly reactionary, one prone to such knee-jerk impulse, will be -and is- unprecedented, in modern times.

Okay. many veteran’s might believe burning the flag is disrespectful, sure. That does not mean it is, or should be illegal. Especially since the very 1st amendment in the Bill of Rights, in the US Constitution, grants all men -women too, much later- the right of free speech, including the right to peacefully protest the government ones grievances.

And what could be more peaceful than burning some fabric on the sidewalk, or a college square, as it were? Disrespectful does not reach the criminal level of injurious or illegal. The Supreme Court has already ruled on this very thing, indemnifying the act as legal and protected under the 1st, 5th, & 13th amendment’s of the Constitution…the United States Constitution…to include ignorant kids that may wear pleather sandals and live in mom’s basement.

Donald Trump’s reactionary positions actually leads me to worry less about his ability to become a true tyrant. He’s not intelligent or cunning enough to cause wide-spread lasting damage. Yes, I could be wrong? So what? What should be feared more are the true lunatics out there suddenly feeling empowered to act out in destructive, truly abhorrent ways.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHY IS #DC HATED BY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE? GREED OVER RIGHTS #noDAPL

This was the final outrage. I have no way of verifying whether President-Elect Trump owns a multimillion dollar stake in the so-called Dakota Access Pipeline, nevertheless, it seems safe enough to assume President Obama does not? It’s this anecdote that has sparked a need to join the peaceful protests in opposition to the project, at least how it is proposed currently.

If Obama doesn’t have cash on the line and he is still firmly on the side of the Energy Corporations over Native Americans, imagine the crackdown coming under President Trump? This could get ugly, really ugly. Obama could suspend the entire process for the meantime, allowing the air to clear, the temperatures lessened, but for now he’s proposed criminalizing the protester’s temporary campsite on Army Corps -American Peoples Land- land. If “not vacated by December 5th, those remaining will be in violation of Federal law and subject to arrest and prosecution,” a statement from the Army Corps of Engineers reads. The Corp works for President Obama, the POTUS.

I’ve just read there is a group of Veteran’s traveling to Standing Rock. As of now I am not associated with this group, but, I would be proud to stand with my fellow Vets on this. Native American’s have been subjected to these sorts of tactics for hundreds of years with little notice from the mainstream press, often villianized, and typically only taken notice of when their cause can be marginalized by the general population. Even though I’m aware of the fact that our government, in large part, doesn’t give two shits about Veteran’s or worse, Native American’s, this sort of public demonstration might put the truth out on front street? Will Obama do something then? I would be pleasantly surprised, but hold little faith in action from DC that undermines corporate power.

As Vets we’ve served honorably in faraway places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea, Kosovo, Honduras, Columbia, Haiti and other countries on a belief. That these lands might someday offer legal protections for the rights of citizens, to protest peacefully being one of those rights. I’ve been shot at, targeted by all sorts of lethal weapons during deployments with our Ranger Batt. It’s not the police or the Army Corp that frightens me tonight. What scares me most is discovering further proof that my childhood beliefs in America as exceptional were unfounded. That my patriotism was underwritten by propaganda. That so many good men -and women- shed blood, sometimes their lives for an America lost forever to the current culture of ravenous, unchecked greed. This is a truth that scares the hell out of me…and it should you too.

The POTUS has spoken through the Army Corps that our *his* Government supports the Energy Industry and local police ahead of peaceful protester’s. Essentially, this is the modern Democrat Party flexing its neoliberal muscles, a macro-aggression all the way from Washington DC to the “flyover” people. 

I am white. I am a coward. I’ve fought the war’s of the government. I thought I was fighting for liberty, freedom and our inalienable rights, but it was mostly all a deadly ruse. It’s time to put down my pain and pick up what’s left for this righteous cause. I’m no fanatic, no hero. I’m not insane or “off my meads.” I’m but an ordinary American who once believed 100% in America, but then I grew up and realized the truth: that we are capable of great things, however, without struggle and effort, the moments in history that America did shine, did represent that *idea* of us, will be just that and only that…history.

I’m selling, pawning or giving away anything I don’t need in the morning. A little TLC for my truck to make the 3400 mile drive and with good luck I’ll be on the road by Saturday..Sunday at the latest. Hopefully I can locate my passport, otherwise I cannot drive through Canada. Yet another law meant to limit the free travels of American citizens. Never thought about it until just now, but the only way to drive out of Alaska is through Canada. Otherwise, I love Canada and Canadian’s! 

For now …

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giving Thanks & Missing the Grey Shores

You were the star of my dream just now. We were in Maine again. The holiday at the shores of the grey ocean, behind the granite wall of great boulders that appear to have been placed by Zeus himself; placed one by one to shield his people from the crashing thunder of the hunter’s moon. You tasted of salt and aloe that morning, the yellow sun falling up at our backs, waging its glorious war with the last evenings mist, turned to mornings fog; Like the runaway mist, your hand in mine would burn the demons from my aether.

We were there again if only for the briefest of space. Dancing like fools subject to sin.

I remember what you said, as the sweet drift of the grill lifted my senses to give permanent thanks: “we deserve this lobster, right? Just not on such a perfect evening alone.” I disagree, and your green eyes flash; picture a shutter capturing an entire story of unrequited love.

If I ever believed anything at all, it was that I’d never lose the memory of those eyes. Now I seem to have nothing left to believe in, my darling, my paramour.

Dreams are uncovered through the absence of a sense of smell. The moment I realize, it seems, is the moment I shed a single tear. In this way dreams are like films, home movies that star a litany of ghosts. They only relieve my sorrow for that moment before I awake. Then begins this conscience nightmare projecting a future that’s upside down and abridged of bliss.

You’re never coming back. I know that is the absolute truth. Even if you wanted to, the ship of destiny has sailed and I could never catch up. I wish that wishes could come true. I wish and I wish and I wish, three times or maybe seven, but it only reveals me as the ignorant fool. But I wish again. I sometimes wonder if the opposite was true…would you wish too?

Is it already the holiday in your new space? Are you thinking of me, those crashing shores, the smells, and that salty food? If you are, my dear, then I am too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Torturers R’ Us: Moral Hazard Pardoned

In response to the devastating Senate Report on Torture, President Obama stated, I’m paraphrasing, “litigating the past will do us no good. We must look to the future.” At first glance this approach may sound reasonable enough, however, this course, a guiding principle of Obama’s administration, is fraught with thinking errors and inconsistent with our supposed legal ethos. Imagine prisoners serving time in prison grappling with such impotent language? “The government certainly litigated my past. I wasn’t convicted of future crimes, but rather, those committed in the so-called past.” Two other issues are evident in this injurious way of thinking: By not prosecuting the crimes, the American people assume the practices were necessary. By not prosecuting the crimes, moral hazard is vacated, assuring a repeat of the same crimes by future administrations.

Along comes President Elect Donald Trump. A man who stated, and I quote, “we’re gonna bring back waterboarding and a whole lot worse.” He actually campaigned on a promise to break the law, going so far as to suggest he’d place former CIA agent Jose Rodriguez in charge of the agency. The same Rodriguez who birthed the practices then burned the video cassettes containing contemporaneous visual evidence of the monstrosities. If you want to blame someone for the future practices of a Trump Administration look no further than Barrack Obama.

I’m not writing this in a political sense. This is important to me because I was on the front lines of this fight while serving in the army during the Bush years. I can barely live with the fact that I bear my own responsibility for prosecuting these policies, unwittingly or not. The men I served with did not torture or abuse those we detained. I did not know the extent to which our policies supported these brutalities. I’m also not sure what I would have, or could have done had I known? Our unit was commanded by officers who stressed the rules of war and the mission to protect and support civilians caught up in between those we sought and our mission to protect the man on either side of you in battle. Brutality was not completely absent, nevertheless, it was acknowledged and addressed in its aftermath.

The things I’ve learned since leaving the Army from excellent journalism and reports like the Senate’s report on torture are as astonishing as they are abhorrent. The treatment many of these detainees were subjected to can only be described as felonious and un-American. That these practices were not only encouraged, but US government official policy, seems the definition of criminal. Just because your lawyer says a law is no longer justified, doesn’t make it legal. Just because you believe the Geneva Conventions are “quaint,” doesn’t mean you can table the agreed upon rules of war. Remember, Nixon once said, “if the President does it, it’s not illegal.” That’s the language of an autocrat. That’s not the Constitutional principles we ascribe to as American’s. The fate of Richard Nixon and most of his henchmen bears this truth out.

What does any of this mean for the ordinary veteran, or for that matter, the ordinary American? It’s impossible to say or even predict. In a binary world, the choice between Trump or Clinton feels a bit pathetic. Our country faces a moral crises overtly under Trump just as it would have quietly under Clinton.

My own struggle with the wars we continue to fight goes on regardless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CATASTROPHIZING @realDonaldTrump: Hissy-Fit/Armageddon Edition

President Donald Trump.?! WTF? It’s the age-old question: Times make the man or, man makes the times? Is Trump simply at right place, right time, or, more troubling still: Is it Trump and his like that will transform the time? My best thinking results in a simpler answer to his win. The bottom rung of this theory is Clinton the candidate. I will try to explain.

Like some Hitchcock film, Obama and Trump lunch as equals…

My first thought after listening to one pundit after another sob with abject fear of the Trump Presidency is: “Are these folks a little bitter and a lot paranoid? Are they “catastrophizing,” as we used to say in group? It’s the end of the Republic, the world even, according to most news folks, liberal pundits and ancient elitist’s. Maybe? And maybe we should take a deep breath, put down the pumpkin spice lattes, and consider our history?

We survived the British Empire’s anger after declaring our independence. We survived the Civil War. We survived the Great War, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam and Richard Nixon. We survived the Cold War, a steady tension over 40 years, with thousands of thermonuclear weapons addressed USA, able to be fired in minutes, wiping out the entire modern world, if not human beings themselves? We survived 9/11 and the Bush Administrations lawlessness. And we survived several epic financial crisis including the Great Depression and the 2008 Great Recession. So???? Pump your brakes already.

I have said this many times: I would not vote for Trump, but I wouldn’t vote for Clinton either. An overwhelming number of voters had a similar outlook, with just enough of them saying “fuck it,” why not? The crazy part for Dem’s is that the numbers exposed this truth early on.

To say Trump voters, in general, are stupid or uninformed is exactly the analysis that resulted in the Clinton machine loss. It’s the bubble and the echo chamber that rings with terms like “white/uneducated” “working class whites” & “altright,” talking points for 5 minute news segments that drip with condescension and hubris. Polls are worthless anywhere outside of a campaign’s strategy session. They are worse than news, they are simplistic, targeted, and biased.

Here’s something you may have heard? If a site like 538.com -the Mauri Povich of political news- or others say candidate x has a 90% chance of prevailing, we still know nothing useful. Zero! In elections, two things, you win or you lose. Percentages are for blackjack and slugging averages. The fact that all the topical programs rely almost exclusively on polling to present the news, leads me to believe, it’s not the voters for either candidate who are stupid, it’s the news industry and its mouthpieces.

I have more about Trump, but this has exhausted me. He is worrisome on many levels. That’s for later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHANGE THEY CAN BELIEVE IN: #GOP #ELECTION2016 @realDonaldTrump

The world is awash with election analysis, mostly bullshit. As a true believer and political sadist I downloaded a few podcasts last night to get a better understanding of the anger and sorrow sweeping through the Democratic Party. The only reason I’m wading into the pedantic underbelly of this issue is the truly apocalyptic visions most of these hosts, and guests, were predicting come late January, 2017. Wow! Donald Trump brings a worrying set of character flaws to the job, but damn, the suicide hotline?

If liberals can learn anything from this election, it’s gotta be that the Democratic Party must be blown up and reborn, finding new faces to lead ahead. The programs I listened to today, minus The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur, offer little hope for change. These pundits and operatives cannot seem to wrap their minds around a simple concept? So if anyone in that bubble is listening I will type slow so you can keep up:

The #1 reason HRC and the Dem’s lost the election is HRC and the Democratic Party. Not Russia. Not Julian Assange. Not Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. Not the Electoral College. Not Obama. Not white people. Not women. Not Trump’s free media blitz. Not even Trump! She lost because ordinary voters dislike and mistrust her. Many also dislike Donald Trump, but there is possible chance he could upend the status quo. With Hillary there is no chance of change: she is the status quo. 

Are the several points of blame completely irrelevant? Of course not, however, every one of those hurdles were low enough to clear had Mrs. Clinton, or another Democratic candidate, reached out to the electorate with authenticity and a coherent message beyond: Vote for me; I’ll work to keep it business as usual. Even Hillary could have squeaked out a victory with an open, authentic candidacy. Bet. What the party wouldn’t accept from the jump, was those things, being authentic and unguarded, are not within her capability in the context of addressing the public writ large. She is who she is: “a public and private” face that’s beyond modification after 40 years under the hot lights.

Liberals do like Obama, warts and all. He offered a message of change that I initially believed in too. I still remember that 2008 campaign well. The enthusiasm was electric just about anywhere you went that year. I wrote a few weeks ago how this entire campaign I never saw a single HRC bumper sticker, hat or t-shirt. Anecdotal, I know, but the contrast is stunning.

Bernie Sanders may have lost too? It’s a counterfactual that’s unanswerable. He did generate tremendous vigor in the electorate similar to Obama, all minus meaningful media coverage, unlike the Obama campaign. Who knows how many he could have reached with the establishment behind him, however reluctantly? I say, despite being a fellow Jew and democratic socialist, he would have won states like Michigan and Pennsylvania. The numbers suggested as much back in May-June. And that’s without mainstream media airtime. He had a message. I would have voted for him. I knew others who would have. Clinton though; nobody ever told me in person they were voting for her…so?

I suppose after sharing all this amateur gibberish, a short piece on Trump is only fair and balanced? That could cost a whole lot of energy? What about Biden? You think he is kicking himself? Whatever!

Clinton was deeply flawed in a time of populism and fear driving the vote. I wish her well. I do believe she IS a good person under the masks of public opinion. She’s damn tough, that’s undeniable. Making it this long in what is still a man’s world takes true grit.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Do I Miss About the Time Before Fear? #IAVA #Iraq

This isn’t going to be an essay on the possible horrors, or successes of the coming Trump administration. Speculating on such matters is pointless and worn out. My writing here is focused on love and war, or war and love, as it were. These pages are like my practice court, shooting free throws. A safe place to improve my sophomoric writing skills, develop my critical thought, and disseminate onto paper, my inner conflicts and personal demons. More about feelings than thoughts, emotion rather than analysis.

This is how I feel tonight…

The generation that survived World War II grows smaller each year. It seems fair to say that these American’s were the last to experience and suffer through an era that truly represented an existential crisis for the US, that could have radically altered our freedom and liberty. When FDR spoke of fear -“the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself-” at the height of the Great Depression, his message was true…and almost antithetical to the messages we hear today from many of our political leaders and elite. Their message is closer to: “we should be afraid.” Of what exactly? Terrorism? China? Putin? Trump? Socialism? All of the above? If my Grandparents were alive today, they would scoff at such things.

We should be aware of those spreading fear, not to shut them up, but not to follow them either. And understand their motivations.

After 9/11 I enlisted in the Army to be a grunt, to do my small part for a country that I believed in. It wasn’t out of fear that I offered myself up, to the contrary, it was a sense of duty that one should feel living such a privileged life on the shoulders of the selfless that stood before. Did I believe Osama bin Laden was an existential threat to America? No. Did I believe we had a collective duty to apply justice and do our best to prevent further damage? Yes, of course.

Sadly, for the country and the world, our leaders and government quickly lost sight of our ideals and their own duty, eventually and slowly, modifying our ethos, our “American myth of exceptionalism,” for reasons such as greed, pride and fear. The shift was profound and pervasive to degrees increasing today.

As we surged into south into Iraq in 2003, there was excitement, trepidation, fear and uncertainty among the professional soldiers within my small unit. There are always a few of the “hoorah, freedom and America is the best-est” soldiers who believed the United States could do no wrong, but more so, we privately questioned our mission and morality. We weren’t ruthless killers or immovably immoral and robotic. It was fucked up from the start, and all the way through to Mosul, our final stop before shipping back stateside 11 months later.

Unlike Afghanistan at the time, where we had relatively clear rules of engagement and substantive missions, in Iraq the mission shifted from day-to-day, with new directives from time to time that seemed intentionally sadistic. Like the folks running the war actually wanted chaos and strife to erupt? To this day you cannot tell me there wasn’t some of this intentional rub taking place for whatever reason. Period.

There is no bottom to my sorrow when it comes to my feelings about Iraq and that war I participated in. Even though I knew it wasn’t right, almost from the beginning, I was too cowardly to make a stand and refuse my orders. Of the 30 or so soldiers I worked with daily and trusted, there is at least 8 others who today feel the same. Sadly, 2 others took their own lives following their military service. Undoubtedly, they were haunted by the same ghosts I meet each day.

It just hits me like a lightening bolt, bringing this shit to the surface. I’m not ready. It feels still, smells somehow? The stench of a battlefield, the human smells mixed with the earth and fuel and steel and gunpowder, is a sense that permeates the memory and stains my devilish hands. There is no washing it away, this mark of evil, like the devils piss.

Is Trump our best hope to rescind these wars of fear and misplaced, misunderstood anger? Not likely, in fact, his nature portends escalation and compounded misery, holding no empathy close, a position somehow greater in disdain than Obama and Bush. Bomb the hell out of them. “I’ll bring back waterboarding, and a whole lot worse.”

Chart a return to that course Mister President Elect and our people, our culture, our society and any mythical exceptionalism left is lost for good…if not already gone. There is the blurry vision of our dispassionate citizenry still believing in our character, but it is largely delusional? I will reserve final judgement for now, lest I be the hypocrite for today.

I’m afraid of the devil. Is there a hell? Something tells me in the end we simply return to the dirt, but I cannot be sure. I’ve punished myself for the sins of war. There has to be a greater atonement?

My eyes are brimming with so many tears. Not for that idealized vision of America I was taught, even believed, as a young man, but for all the souls sacrificed so senselessly. Was it ever really true? At least the question was rhetorical once, unlike our possible future and the answers to come.

A rapid descent into the flames of human nature. Who will stand up to the monster if not us; we’ve met him, he looks just like a reflection.

Does any of this matter? I’ll still wake up alone tomorrow, wishing I could forget you until the moment passes and I open my eyes.

I’m crying from my eyes, but the body is dead.