Veteran

I am a veteran. Every time I say these words, I tense up in fear of someone calling me out on it. I envision my friends, buddies from the army, thinking back to their deployments, not recalling my face there. I picture people scoffing at me, pointing at my lack of a trip overseas and spitting in my face. I feel like a poser. Like I don’t deserve to call myself such a thing. I picture my dad, a real veteran in my eyes. The guys and girls in my unit, some of which I’m still friends with, and just feel shame for even pretending to stand with such great people. For even using the same word we use to describe them on myself.

I sit here, afraid to say these words, but at the same time, I don’t know of any other way to describe that seven year period of my life. When I joined, it wasn’t that noble. I’d just found out my wife was pregnant, and I was in desperate need of money. I’d considered joining the military before, but at this juncture it seemed to be the best option. The signing bonus would give us a great start with a newborn, new job opportunities, a new start in life. So I did it. I picked the shortest school I could find to make sure I’d be home before my son was born. I left as early as possible. Unfortunately life doesn’t always fit into ones plans. My son ended up being born 5 weeks early, and I was not there for it. Not even 15 weeks in to my career and I’d already given up one of the most important moments you’ll ever have in your life.

I’m not going to go into much detail, but this, among other things, led to my divorce. I was homeless for a period of time, struggling to find work before I finally lucked out and started landing full time positions with the National Guard. I kept these for the next 3 years.

I spent weeks away from home. Months. Repeatedly. I worked 16 hour days sometimes. Other times 22 hour days. Sometimes, for days straight, falling asleep in the minutes between jobs i had to do. I worked for months straight without a day off at times. I dealt with the strain of giving your life to a cause, while trying to also give your life to your family, and I failed at that balance. But I did this without question. I came in one morning, about 2 months after my unit deployed, and was told I would be leaving for Iraq in 2 hours and to go pack my bags. I had to call my wife to tell her “hey, I’m not coming home for dinner. For 15 months.” I waited all day, but by 10 pm that night whatever call they’d been waiting on hadn’t come in, and I was told to go home. Not told I wasn’t deploying, but just to go home and be back in the morning. No one ever said another word to me about leaving. No “we decided not to”, or “you’re going next week possibly” just silence. Thus I had nothing to tell my wife, for two weeks until I finally got word I was on standby, indefinitely, incase the unit needed more people overseas. Yet another thing that led to my second divorce.

I, and any other soldier out there, made this commitment. I can’t even begin to descibe to people what it’s like to put an entire nations needs above your own, but I hope this brings it into perspective for people. I do feel ashamed to call myself a veteran. But I made sacrifices. And I learned. I learned that despite joining for something as simple as money, what I was fighting for, what I am willing to die for, isn’t just a shell we collectively call America. It isn’t for some idealistic term like freedom, or our country, our government or peace. It’s for you. It’s for each and every one of you. I walk down the street every day, 12 blocks each way in portland, and I occasionally look around and think to myself, “there is not one person here I wouldn’t take a bullet for.”.

I realized the greatest thing about our country is its people, however varied they may be in opinions, ideologies, religions, we have every range of diversity known to us living within our borders. This allows for the best environment to foster innovation, equality and balance out there. I would lay my life down in a heartbeat to protect even 1/320,000,000th of that. But I also think anyone would. And because anyone would do it in my mind, I hardly feel it’s right to call me a veteran.

I hope after reading this people have a better understanding of what soldiers go through. It’s so easy to just neatly glaze over details, to stuff this post into the back of your mind, and go on with your day. But I do hope, if even for a moment, it reminds you of some of the things soldiers do for you. There are people out there willing to give up everything for you, your family, your job, and your country.

The globalization of Humanity

20 years has passed since the Internet exploded. In this time the traditional borders between countries has begun to erode. It is now just as easy to speak with a foreigner as it is a coworker (and sometimes even easier). The world has shrunk, and with it so has the ability to hide the differences between citizens of the world. As the future unfolds, I see only two outcomes: total unity, or total destruction.

Power is an interesting, intoxicating substance. It is what gets us up in the morning, what dictates the clothes we wear, the people we associate with, the car you drive and many other aspects of life. It is also the biggest struggle in life, as power is not unlimited. As power is not unlimited, in order to obtain power you must first subtract it from the overall available power in your grasp. A common example would be buying gas. You need fuel for your vehicle, to go places you want to go. If you do not have the money, you must find a way to obtain it. You must choose from two ways to obtain this power, by suggestion or by force. You either convince someone you are worthy of having this power, or you must take it from them.

This mentality of power struggles has pervaded our species since we were monkeys. It is a system we instinctually cling to, as it is natural for us to let such actions take place entirely in our subconscious. However in our day, in this age of the future, I would like to be the first to stand up and say, no more.

I look to Russia, a country that has a strong persona, and projects strength, confidence and bravado. What is their goal? What could they possibly want, that would make them posture so? Land? Resources? MTV? All these things would equate to more power, compared to the available power slices other countries have. If it is power they want, I must ask what we want, what our country’s goals are, what are the goals of any country? Power seems to be the only link. In our country, we have famously done some of the sneakiest things to maintain our power, from funding al quida in Afghanistan in the 80’s to drain Russian resources, to buying the leading officials of Honduras and funding drug lords. We have not skimped on the technology side either. With our control of 4/5ths of the world’s Internet traffic being routed through our country, our ability to spy on everyone, anywhere at anytime has created massive distrust of the American government and it’s people.

All of this, is in the pursuit of power. So I must ask of you, without power where is the conflict? Greed is what turns power sour. It is wanting more than a fair share that creates conflict. If we were to eliminate the struggle for power on a global scale, what more need would there be to fight? As I stated at the beginning, we are in a new age, the age of the internet. People from around the globe are connecting more frequently and more easily every single day. Soon, if this continues, there will be no need to distinguish yourself as a nationality, other than for a sense of identity and community. And it is in this age I hope to see a world government come to power.

I envision a world government that eliminates the political boundaries of any country. No country would be allowed to remain, as this allows for the struggle for power. There would be no ruling body for any particular country, no UN, no federation of states, but a single, totally unified body. There would be no need for standing armies, heavy weapons, weapons of mass destruction, and no one to use them on but ourselves.

How does this differ from the past, you may ask. In ancient times there was no unified body dictating commerce or control over every civilization. There was always an outsider, or more land to dispute, some source of outside influence to disrupt this balance. Nowadays, every part of the earth is accounted for. There is no more land on the planet to be disputed if every bit of the globe received equal treatment. If wages were made balanced, prices stabilized globally, there would be no competition on a broad scale to fight for resources. This would also require wage scales being universal, and created in a way that does not create unfair levels of inequality between people. It also requires people willing to accept this format, which should should be an easy choice for the majority, local governance and sufficient capabilities to quickly make decisions to provide goods and services locally, and people willing to cooperate with others and to extract extract no unfair concessions for their their goods and services.

This idea is symbolic more than I believe it is possible, however. The idea of such unity only lasts until one person decides they want more than they have, and starts finding ways to take what others have. Because of this, and because of the human ego, we cannot possibly achieve this dream. It would require a total reconditioning of the human mind. We would need to eliminate the greed and the ego from our realm of thoughts and feelings and this also would remove much of what we call the human spirit.

As there does not appear to be much hope that everyone will just get along, we must work to ensure the points of conflict are removed so the path can be cleared for unity of our species. Aside from nationality, the number two cause of conflict is religion. This is another obstacle that simply can’t be removed. As long as religion remains judgemental, and a religion places itself above the rest (ego again) there is no hope of peace.
If we were to solve these two issues, we could certainly start the journey down the path to true freedom.

Rights. Rights are not something you are given. It is not a privilege, a grant or a concession. Rights are something you HAVE, inquestionably, without interference, without hesitation or permission. You DO have the right to freedom of speech. You are both capable and responsible for your beliefs, and you are not entitled to them, you own them. The same goes all other rights, such as the right to bear arms, the right to unlawful search and seizure, the right to choose your religion, hair color, physical appearance and sexual orientation, if you so choose.
However, with unlimited rights, there would be chaos. There would be too many conflicting scenarios, and too many Ill choices by people that would negatively affect the well being of others. Also, people cannot agree on what’s right or wrong. This comes again from judgement, the belief that we should control others based on our beliefs. This is not equitable, and once again creates conflict. Because of this, we created a bill of rights. Inside this bill of rights, it outlines the basic rights all people are entitled to. This bill was also written at a time when slave auctions took place openly and regularly at major cities across the country.

We have evolved from that point in history, and as such so should our philosophies. We have expanded our minds, educated ourselves far beyond what was known of the world then, created sophisticated machines which sped up our abilities to make discoveries vastly. Our speech, culture, demeanor, politics, foreign policies, national policies, constitutions, geographic boundaries, commerce and culture have grown far beyond what our system was set up to handle. We now have a massive political infrastructure in place, that is being eroded by corruption and greed due to the ability of corporations with more power than several countries to persuade our elected officials. This Is not avoidable. As long as someone in power would take a bribe, than everyone in power must take the bribe. Otherwise, the briber gets his way, and someone else gets the money instead of you. Therefore if someone WILL get that money, it might as well be you, right? This is basic game theory, something they teach for politics and economics, because it describes so well the best outcomes to a given conflict (be it money, how to avoid a trip to jail, or just which side of the sidewalk to walk down, there is math to describe it, someone knows it, and therefore can use it against you to Increase their own power).
Rights are intangible things that should not be touched by governments. They do not decide what your rights are, although they may fairly dictate what is generally right and wrong, for the good of keeping order. However, these boundaries have not been respected by our government. They have repeatedly infringed on our rights as humans. They spy, steal, justify, excuse, apologize, threaren, scare, coerce, beat, murder, bribe, persuade, and apologize again for their betrayal of our trust. They have created a perverted version of our federal government and it’s initial vision, as power and pursuit of more power is apt to do.

I do not blame anyone for this. This is not a case of one side or the other making bad judgements, poor decisions or of a particular level of corruption. This is because, at the root of everying, we are human and we are all raised in a culture where we are told one goal in life: succeed. Succeed at being happy, succeed financially, succeed by having children, but no matter what you do, succeed, because success is power, and power is what we all crave. Whether you’ll admit it or not, It’s instinct and we cannot avoid it.

My hope is that one day we can move past this. I feel we are in an age that will bring many things we never thought possible before to the forefront. A specific possibility I see to this is major changes to the way we govern ourselves. With a unified world, with no need for local armies, no borders to guard, no resources to horde over others, no laws except to broadly protect citizens from harm, there would be no conflict. The idea of protecting people from themselves is an idea that should be left to history. There are over 20,000 federal laws and regulations. There are stipulations to stipulations, and additions and changes to additions and changes. There is no longer a clear sense of right and wrong, but a confused mess made impossible to work by our constant drive forward and lack of cleaning up our wake.

It is my hope that one day in my life, we can eliminate the sense of unease that fills the hearts of the people in the world. That we can live free, with our rights and morals being the guide instead of mandates and laws. I believe this will all be possible if we take down our walls, break down the things that make us unequal, and join together in the age of the globalization of humanity.

Education bridge

Why Fox!

Why do news companies like Fox sell drama? They’ll state two facts then spout unsupported opinion for five sentences that have little to do with the topic, nothing to do with the spread of information and awareness, are very biased, focus more on who’s winning and losing than what’s truthful or not, then expect people to trust them. Here’s a great example from an article I was reading today on the Fox News application:
“President Obama, at his second campaign stop Friday following a dismal June jobs report, dropped a line from his speech in which he cited the faint job growth as a “step in the right direction.”

The president had taken heat for the comment from both the Mitt Romney campaign and Republican National Committee.

“Seriously?” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an email earlier that drew attention to the remark. She noted the 80,000 jobs recorded in June are far below the 130,000 to 150,000 it takes to keep pace with population growth.”

First off, 80,000 jobs in a month is not dismal. Don’t use words like dismal because that implies it is far worse than it is. Second, the article focuses more on how bad Obama is doing, and with the “seriously?” Statement from Romney’s spokesperson also implying the president is doing a bad job. Third, where does this 130,000-150,000 number come from? Are there really 150,000 more people entering our workforce a month than are leaving it? Or is this another skewed statistic that doesn’t take into account people leaving the workplace (retiring, etc) and is just here to bash our president? Fourth, can I as a citizen verify this number as being accurate? BLS.gov is the only site I can think of that would have this kind of information, yet after twenty minutes of searching was unable to conclusively determine the above information to be true. Most importantly, the average American citizen will most likely not go through the trouble of searching the internet for this information, and we shouldn’t have to rely on this as we should simply be able to rely that the information we are being told by the media is true.

So this is an unverifiable number and I am supposed to just take their word that our president is doing a “dismal” job. I don’t think any agency should be selling news and creating drama. I would liken this to the KKK being in charge of handling EoE cases, fox news clearly has a vested interest in selling news and creating profit, and this is the garbage that sells so they produce it. I hope that one day we can have a fair an unbiased source of information so widely available as Fox News is now.