Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Year and Then Some

That's about how long it has been since I've dedicated anything to writing on my blog. I have returned from Afghanistan, and gotten out of the military in the time since. I can't say that my feelings about how I view our country have changed, except to say that both my disgust and disappointment in some of my fellow countrymen has deepened.

I spent the last bit of time I had in the military reminding those who are now my replacements that their principle duty is outlined in their oaths of enlistment, and that the defense of the Constitution supersedes loyalty to the President or any of the officers appointed over them. I've repeatedly challenged their knowledge on this, hitting them often with the question, "How do you uphold and defend that which you don't know?" The simple answer is that they can't.

My own oath to the Constitution has not expired with my exit from the military, nor will it. Not so long as I draw breath and declare myself an American citizen.

I have left one form of service to our country, and feel myself called to political service, and not for the power. There isn't anything I want more, than to be able to go home, become a  tradesman, and work in my trade of choice to support myself and my family, and live in peace, without having to worry whether my government, my fellow citizens, the military, or law enforcement will decide it is expedient to try and deprive me of my rights, property, or life. I don't want to have to worry that the EPA, IRS, NSA, Department of Education, DOJ, FBI, or any other alphabet soup agency of the federal government is going to violate my rights, confiscate my property, or invade my privacy. Clearly, these are luxuries of which I have been deprived before I have even had the chance to enjoy them.

Resentment is too mild a word to describe how I feel, that what I would like is apparently too much to ask of my country. I have, over the last year or so, developed both a new mantra and a keener understanding, I think, of what really has infected our society.

My mantra has become: Certior Fiat, Parabuntur, Armari. Or, in English, Be Informed, Be Prepared, Be Armed.

I have come to understand two important concepts that I believe may be the keys to help our nation reverse course. The first, is the understanding that Justice and Fairness are two concepts which are NOT mutually inclusive. All that is JUST is FAIR, where all that is deemed FAIR is NOT JUST. To achieve this clarity, a distinct comprehension of the true nature of justice must be achieved. While I am not an advocate for the Platonic model of philosopher kings promoted by Plato, I do think, that through the vehicle of Socrates in, "The Republic", Plato lays out what I think to be a clear and rational expression of the nature of justice. I exhort you to read it for yourself, and come to your own conclusion, and hope that when it has been said and done, that you and I will agree.

The second idea, lies in recognizing the fundamental difference between human rights, and human demands. Our Bill of Rights, in the Constitution, is our prime example of human rights. They are distinct from so-called "human rights" in that there is no demand placed upon our fellow men by their exercise. Demands, on the other hand, are just that. Demands. Health care, contraceptives, education, employment, are all demands, and not rights, as they must be provided to the individual by another person or persons. Who among us has such a right as to demand any such thing with authority from our fellow men? The answer is that none of us do. There is no such thing as a right to Freedom from Fear, or to Freedom from Want. These are lies propagated by the progressive movement, which is merely a front for those whose true desire is to rule, and a poor front at that. An expressed desire to save men is often a disguise for the desire to rule them instead. That last is paraphrased, and I can't remember who, off the top of my head said it, but it doesn't ring any less true, I think, for all of that.

Finally, I plead with my fellow countrymen to do one of two things: get informed and involved on behalf of Liberty and Freedom, or take Samuel Adams' excellent advice. Don't be just a resident. Be a citizen, and know the difference.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Coming Home

It's bittersweet. I'm coming home to a country I've begun to feel as if I don't know. To a country where it appears that it isn't okay to defend yourself, and it is morally superior to become a victim, rather than being able to protect yourself and take out the trash when necessary by using lethal force to eliminate threats to yourself, your family and your property. To a country, where if I'm not mistaken, the people seem to think they should be taken care of by the government, and that wanting to keep what you've earned is greed, while wanting to take the money of others is social justice. To a country full of government agencies, staffed by people who seem to forget that they are the servants of the public, and not our masters. To a country full of fearful people too willing to trade their liberties for the illusion of security. Freedom is not free, and we had each better remember that and be willing to fight to the death for its preservation, if not for ourselves, then for our descendents.

 I've done my duty. I've served in the military now for 13 years, through 4 deployments (3 to hostile countries), I've nearly been shot and blown up. I've suffered, as have so many others, through the loss of friends due to rules of engagement written by bureaucrats in order to assuage the guilt of their consciences. Some of those losses were simply the fortunes of war. Others have suffered far more, and others, far less. What of their sacrifices? They apparently amount to nothing, if you ask the American public, in my opinion. Do they, and I mean in the broad, general sense, understand that we are still at war? That the phrases, "Support our troops" and "Thank you for your service" are only so many meaningless words unless you back them with action?

How do I mean? Stay informed of current events, know what the government is up to and is planning, and vote. Vote to keep your individual liberties, vote to retain your right to bear arms of any and all types, vote to defend the Constitution.  Vote with wisdom and foresight, vote with the future you want to leave to your children in mind rather than for what you think the government as promised you for the present. Remember that voting is both right and privilege. Make sure your children understand their responsibility and role as citizens, and that when the time comes, they vote too. Otherwise, the sacrifices made by all who've come before are in vain.

I have voted for the elected offices in my home state, and will vote again for the Office of President of the United States this Fall. I hope that you will all do the same, and keep in mind that your very liberty to live your life as you will, without the interference of one government agency or another, to accept the good, bad and ugly that you experience in life, is at stake. Not just in this election, but every election. It is our duty and responsibility as citizens. Never forget that. Despite my hope for something better, I fear the country my daughter and other future children I may have, will inherit will not be one as free, and one as full of opportunity as the one that greeted me upon my arrival to adulthood. 

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." -Thomas Jefferson

Monday, July 16, 2012

A New Direction (Sort of)

Well. It's certainly been some time since my last post, and I hope it won't be nearly that long until my next one. This blog of mine was originally, and perhaps naively, intended to be an intellectual blog about writing, the writing process, and the community of the lovers of fiction. Silly me. My life in the last year has been consumed with family and deployment to Afghanistan. Never mind that I have become more politically active and aware in the last year, even though my awakening as a citizen, if you can call it that, began several years ago. I have had, if you will, something of an epiphany in regard to my duty. Not just as a soldier, nor simply a husband and father, but as a free American citizen whose Right it is to steer the course of my own destiny and that of my family. It began with a soldier I knew who irked me because of his attitude and irreverence for authority. Note that this confrontation finally came to pass, albeit mostly peacefully after my promotion and induction in the Non-Commissioned Officer Corps of the United States Army. Despite my dislike for his attitude, I had (and still do) respect for his intelligence and independence of thought. In some ways, I've become more like him. After our conversation, he recommended I read Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged". I'll confess that the book enraged me for reasons I couldn't really pinpoint at the time, and now, despite that experience, and the author's disdain for Faith and government alike, I've become both a better citizen and more committed Christian. Neither one was an immediate, or even, constant change, but rather both have become a journey that continues to define who I am.

A good friend of mine, who is a fellow writer living in Florida, recommended that I quit thinking about it and simply write it out. I've decided that this is excellent advice and have taken him up on it. Thus, this blog post. How can we not express ourselves in these times? They're full to the brim in the spectrum of human experience, from love and peace to hate and war. I know. I'm currently close to completing my fourth deployment. Despite a close call the other day, I have a difficult time thinking of myself as a Veteran. Yet it is exactly that experience which brought me to the crux of my dilemma: get out or stay in the military after 14 and a half years?

It brought me to another question: Why should I stay in? Not in the sense of the obvious benefits for myself and my family, but rather, what would the motivation be for such a decision. It isn't any secret that difficult times are upon our country, and that we are all, in some way, looking for answers. The answers we all seek, whether we're wont to admit it or not, have already been provided in the very document that is the foundation for our way of life and that I'm sworn and duty bound to protect against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Foreign and Domestic. That's the key to the Oath of Enlistment really. Why else should loyalty been sworn first to the Constitution before obedience to the President and the officers appointed under that Office? Why else have I served for 13 years in the Army? Yet I can not always say that my service has been in accordance with my oath, at least, not consciously. It was again, that awakening, when I began to question why it was that we did what we do, and why, if the Constitution, and indeed, its framers, warned us against the over expansion of federal power, did we allow our government to do what it has done? Why have we allowed our elected representatives, and the agencies of our government to become our masters, instead of remaining the servants and protectors of our security and liberties?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

On Racism and Other Such Nonsense

I am a member of the Writer's Digest Sci-Fi/Fantasy Forum, and one of our newest members recently brought up an interesting topic. In one of her college classes, a fellow classmate has alleged (and supported by the professor, no less!) that in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, there exist subtle tones of racism and inter-racial hatred. I was flabbergasted. Not that I don't think Mr. Tolkien didn't have his opinions, but to accuse of him of penning his life's work as disguised racial hatred is reaching just a little far in my opinion. Has as much to say about the state of our society and the corruption and decay within our system of education as anything else. I took some time to respond to her, so I thought I would post it here as well, as boards in the Forum are beyond my ability to control to preserve this little gem of "wisdom". Here it is.

Suemac, there are a lot of people like that, both liberal and conservative. The fact that anyone is reading "subtle racism" into Tolkien and other traditional fantasy by allegorically assigning real life racial roles to the good and evil among the races in any such work speaks volumes, I think, about the state of their own heart. Personally, I perceive that sort of thinking to be the height of human arrogance and view people like that with disgust. Of course the author was really writing about racial relations, what else is there to discuss?!

Now, have there been authors whose works of Fantasy or Sci-Fi are indeed allegorical to their real life feelings about other ethnicities? Let's say for the sake of argument there are, but I am not enough of a literary scholar to be able to cite specific examples. Citing your adversaries example, I think the fact that so many evil entities in fantasy have ape-like features and exhibit less intelligence is more of a statement of mankind's superiority as a species over other creatures to which we customarily attribute such characteristics.

Fantasy is just that. Fantasy, nothing more, nothing less. Great heroes require a great evil, or great opposition against which to struggle. That more is written about the triumph of good over evil, I think sheds more light upon the inner heart and desires of humanity as a whole, rather than exposing hidden racism and other similar bigotry tucked away in the dark corners of our hearts. We want to believe that there is a hero or heroine deep inside each of us, because we can each look into ourselves and see the battle taking place between the light and darkness in our souls. We want to believe, because we want to be redeemed, to be saved from all that within us that is not admirable.

And for the record, should one try to draw allegorical comparisons between the races in LOTR and real life, one would find that the evil entity would have been the Aryan race that was the Nazi Party of Germany in the second world war. Ergo, the physical attributes of the "evil" races in the LOTR would have been the manifestation of what lurked within, rather than the appearance of, real life peoples.

Ever notice how vampires are typically portrayed as white people, but nobody gets upset about it? And come to think of it, so are werewolves and Frankenstein. All of this has more to do with the culture of the peoples to which those mythologies belong, rather than any hidden agenda. Urgh. Stupid people.

My two cents. (Well, probably more like my two bits.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Book Review, "Towers of Midnight", by Robert Jordan

Book Review

“Towers of Midnight”, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

                So maybe I’m a purist. I’m biased. I started reading the Wheel of Time in high school and was immediately captivated. Every year, and at times every other year, I have waited in great anticipation for the release of the next book in the series. So, despite my gratitude to Mr. Sanderson for completing the epic work that is the journey of the Wheel of Time; after reading both the “Gathering Storm”, and now “Towers of Midnight”, I can’t help but feel a little disgruntled.

                How? While Mr. Sanderson has done the Pattern justice, he lacks the grand vision and depth that seemed to have come so naturally to the late Mr. Jordan. He has remained true to the characters and the story, but sadly, it is not the voice of Mr. Jordan that we hear as we read the two latest novels in the series. The details and colors on this canvas are not as vivid with Mr. Sanderson holding the brush; the visceral detail and gritty realism that made the characters of the Wheel of Time so compelling is conspicuously absent. There is no doubt that he is an artist in his own right, but his efforts pale in comparison. One is left with the feeling that the climax of this journey that should by all rights have been Mr. Jordan’s greatest triumph has been white-washed by both Mr. Sanderson and the editors at Tor Books. Instead, I believe that which has finally been published would be a great disappointment to Mr. Jordan.

                In the push to meet deadlines, and indeed the push to meet the demands of rabid fans like myself, both Mr. Sanderson and the editors at Tor have released a sloppy product. In all of the previous books that were published before Mr. Jordan left us, from “New Spring” to “The Knife of Dreams”, I could count on one hand the number of grammatical and spelling errors that I noticed. In the last two books alone, the sheer number of common mistakes was enough to elicit comment, and I am not the only reader who has noticed. Several of my fellow Wheel of Time fans have commented on it as well. This is not in keeping with the finest traditions of publishing that I believe that Tor has until this time upheld. By rushing this critical phase of publishing, the editors of Tor discredit themselves and do both Mr. Jordan and his fans a disservice.

 It is my sincere hope that greater care will be taken with the climax, the last book, and the Memory of Light.