Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. Defeat brings on worse things than can ever happen in a war.
It was said that the objective of any war is peace. Hard to believe, peace seems an over-exaggerated illusion these days. There are plenty of psychopaths and criminals bearing arms living among us, fundamentals and fanatics perpetuating hate and violence. Plenty of bad politicians endangering our public discourse, waging war against the lower and middle class. We are left without purpose or focus, just many ways to distract ourselves. Peace has become irrelevant to the masses with their short attention spans lost in a social media global digital age. Hash-tags and meaningless chants: make America great again! Click, like, tweet and share. Chances are we are all sleeping through our problems.
This should raise anxieties. All war veterans remember when drill sergeant tossed the whole platoon's barrack for one person's failure. You remember, that guy who forgot to lock his locker. The rest of that day was spent on cleaning up and doing push-ups. No one wants to be that person—the “blue falcon”—whose locker's content was tossed wildly, along with beds, mattresses, lockers, and anything not attached to the floor. All veterans learned the lesson that day to take their responsibilities seriously, for the sake of others and for the sake of working towards a mission collectively, executed flawlessly. That lesson in some ways help made the utter nonsense of war more tolerable. We trained and prepared, and will be ever ready; we had each other to count on and all those years of miserableness together in places no one would visit for leisure. We all endured, no one wants to be the “blue falcon” and sleep on duty. At war, anything is possible and together we became comfortably ready.
But we aren't in the military anymore and the war is over, or so declared. We have all admittedly gone from Hulk status to Shriek in these past few years. We are complacent. Mercenary pundits are keen to exploit this. They keep our public discourse divided and distracted, perspectives narrow for dramatic effects. The media glamors in supporting role of the greatest deceptions. The sheep herds are left with mute voices and trivialized opinions; sheepdogs fattened and letting wolves run rampant. No one seems to care except for empty slogans: we want change. Do we? Change to what? Are we really so ready to set up internment camps? Lock up the Muslims? Mexicans? Immigrants? Who's next when they run out of people to lock up and scare the public with?
Rest assured the anxieties are real. We are confronted with catastrophic ecological changes threatening our health and our environment. Social and political unrests seem more common these days, terrorism more rampant and saturated, refugees more prominent in local debates. Our market boom and bust cycles are more troublesome, income gaps are widening and our national debt continue to balloon. The rich gets richer and poor gets poorer, but the growing burdens are put on the least able to bear them. The American Dream is fading and “American Exceptionalism” has become a bad thing because the public at its third-grade reading level won't understand what it means. Sad indeed, but happily the masses go back to chants: we want change, tell it like it is, make America great again. So long it is someone else is doing the work to change things, telling us enough to fool us, and make America abundant in guns, celebrities, and politicians behaving badly. In this modern misinformation age, democracy has practically become standardized and commercialized melodrama to fatten people's pockets. Nothing is exceptional anymore, just fabulously corrupt beyond recognition.
We all recognizes the symptoms, but no one has yet to make a decisive diagnosis. We the people remain perfectly susceptible to fear mongering, disconnected from sympathy, dignity, or respect for basic human rights. We tolerate hate more easily and no one talks courage anymore. Conservative values in America are detached from the progressive goals of conservation, controlling corporations, and consumer protection. Conservative values are now synonymously linked to having a closed mind. When minds are closed to compassion, we see the rise of the authoritarian voters perpetuating racist and sexist ideologies. Whatever happened to grace under pressure and the attitude that we collectively can do the right thing? When did we begin to fail our trainings?
Wake up all you veterans.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
- The Ninth Amendment to the Constitution of the United State
Our Constitution is a permissive one. It presumes natural and inalienable rights retained by individuals independent and free of our governments. This freedom and independence is also an obligation. Someone famous who died young once said “ask what you can do for this country”, well you get the sentiment. Justice, Welfare, Liberty, and Posterity, for all. So do something about it.
As a veteran, I've long stopped wearing my BDUs. I can barely run a few miles when I have time. I get annoyed on Armistice Day when everyone is dressed in red, white and blue obsessively celebrating veterans. I hide indoors on Memorial Day when they fire up their grills. Peace is just lip service paid to bad memories. I no longer fear bullets and I don't hug a M4 to bed. My wife has long cured my nightmares and I snore like a champ sleeping these days. I still don't like crowds and I sit with my back against the wall and eyes on the exits when I can. Pop culture has beautifully saturated my social anxieties with being some kind of hero—PTSD as they affectionately coin the term to admire and neglect me. But PTSD for veterans is reserved for the the entitled, the self-served, the veterans who lie about their experiences because no one who's been to battle suffers post-traumatic anything. You never stop fighting, the battle never ends. There is no post-traumatic anything because what's truly traumatic is happening before my eyes.
So I am awkwardly left in the back of the room dealing with my social anxieties and watching the Constitution I swore to defend spiraling down the drain. The battle is just beginning.