Saturday, August 22, 2019
I started this journal for a number of reasons.
One, because I felt I needed a form of confession. Truthfully, in the last two weeks, I’ve come to see that this was probably somewhat misguided on my part, I find that knowing others are actually reading my words, tempers what I say. I didn’t know if I could be completely truthful, and I still don’t. Confession requires a particular kind of self-honesty, which is why it is done in private to an anonymous father-confessor. Confession requires humility, something that I struggle with. I’ve tried over the last ten years to be honest with myself, but it is a painful experience and one that I’m not very good at (see? I’m trying to be honest with you here). Re-reading what I have written, I see that I have been avoiding certain things. As I get more comfortable with this process, I hope that I may be able to write more than just observations on the world around me, instead I hope to be able to put into words the things that I feel – and do it honestly.And two, because a prison psychologist once recommended that I keep a journal. She said, if I remember right, that by putting my thoughts and experiences down on paper I would have to examine each one – and that self-examination is the beginning of self-healing. I don’t know, at the time it sounded pretty ‘new age’ to me. And putting your thoughts and feelings down on paper in prison creates vulnerability. Both your fellow inmates and the guards always have reason to use your words against you, so you learn damned quick to keep your mouth shut.
Yesterday, someone named
And so, I will try to be honest with you, Elizabeth.
I said that people seem to find it funny that not so long ago politicians and Soldiers swore an oath of service to a piece of paper. Kids today seem to find that kind of idealism amusing. I guess I never realized that doctors swear an oath too, an oath to an ideal. Your comment made me think about my own ideals – and I realized that for the most part I just don’t have much in the way of passionate ideals anymore. I did once; I joined the military and went off to war because I believed that it was the right thing to do. Oh sure, like most young kids who volunteered in those days, it wasn’t entirely about idealism, maybe not even mostly about idealism. My mom used to say that I was full of wind, shit, and excitement, and truthfully I saw the Army as a way to raise hell and bust heads without having to suffer the consequences. Combat didn’t much change that. But the Army did instill in me a strong sense of idealism by introducing me to the concepts of Honor and Duty and Patriotism. Later after I had returned home and become a cop, I clung to those ideals. In those days, it was not illegal to publically disagree with the President, and there were many who did just that. And it infuriated me, I had fought for this country and somehow seeing those protestors felt like a slap in the face. And so my misplaced idealism led me to join Shelly Watson and her band of vigilantes - and ultimately to the murder of people we saw as unpatriotic. It was only after we were caught and brought up on charges of domestic terrorism and I had to look the families of those we killed in the eye, that I began to have doubts. And by then it was too late. You know, of course, that Shelly was convicted and went to Gitmo and died there a year later of a heart attack during “questioning”. I don’t know if she regretted the path that her life took, I never spoke to her again after we were arrested. But I damned sure regretted it, and yes, to be perfectly honest with you, at first I only regretted that I had been caught. I still thought that what we were doing was right, but maybe we hadn’t gone about it in the right way. Shelly’s conviction made me realize that people, even those that maybe held the same views we did, saw us as terrorists. And, now, I realize that many people still see us as no better than the Jihadists who destroyed the first
In prison I met a lot of people who were there because they’d spent their whole lives making excuses, and rationalizing that their situation was somebody else’s fault. They spent their whole lives blaming society, or poverty, or their parents, or something for their situation. I once had a cellee who was in for killing his girlfriend, and he said over and over again, “Bitch had it coming, I’d do it again – only next time I do it right.” At first, I felt a sense of smug superiority to those convicts. I’d been a soldier, a cop. But after a while, I started to realize that I wasn’t any different at all – in fact I was probably worse, because I should have known better. I did a lot of soul searching, and despite all my rationalizations, I began to realize that what we did was dishonorable and that I had never really understood what duty meant.
Nowadays military men swear allegiance to the President. There is no room for ambiguity; it isn’t left up to Soldiers to determine what the Constitution means. And I guess that’s a good thing.
And me? I guess I’ve left idealism behind. Idealism is a young man’s passion. I’m just trying to get by.
Posted by VanDerDecken at 05:32 AM