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Just Say No

June 29, 2011

In 1969, when I was a still a child I enlisted in the military.  The first thing I learned ‘away from home’ is that everything I’d been taught by family and school was a rather poor grade of bullshit.  When I was separated from active in ’73 and started my university years I learned that this opinion was true.

By then I was firmly in my hatred period.  Knowledge had lead me to enmity and tops on my list of the vile were the United States, Christianity and white people, these scourges of all the real human beings around the globe.

I let my hair grow in those days and adopted another uniform of tie die and stonewashed denim trying to get into the hippie movement, but I was too hateful for the flower power business and it never took.  Then, too, I had become leery of any group activities, even a peace movement.

During this time, in my anger, I researched war crimes, both by Americans and others and dug my bile hole even deeper.  I found what I wanted to find, but still couldn’t ignore completely collateral facts.  The one that was most evident was that most participants in the gang rape or slaughters weren’t bad men, but followers convinced by one or two psychos to join in.  The reasons were the same used on the playground.  They didn’t want to look like sissies.  Peer pressure to be a ‘real soldier,’ or ‘a man’ worked and they did things that would haunt their lives.

And a light began to glimmer in my all men are evil gloom that I managed to ignore for many years.  Most men aren’t evil, but easily manipulated.

When you are looking for evidence to reinforce your beliefs, they are easy to find.  I was seeing everything through a dark glass so I interpreted everything darkly.  A fact as seen by one man doesn’t mean the same thing to another.  I had witnessed man at his worst and so judged him by that standard, the essential evil of man, the base of the Christian religion and my vision was skewed.  It would take me years to see clearly (or my version of clearly) again.

In the end the evidence before me out-weighed my mindset. The way most men act didn’t fit, because most people, the vast majority, are doing the best they can and wish everyone else well.

The news report says that hundreds are rampaging or looting, but they don’t add that millions in the same city are at home minding their own business.  For every man who will climb through your night window and cause harm, millions wouldn’t do any such thing.

And it was this recognition that lead me to think that the problem of man is following.  We allow ourselves to be convinced, seduced, cajoled and pressure by any madman that comes along.  A man who will be automatically submissive to community standards will also follow Hitler and usher humans into the gas chamber.

We are trained from the beginning to obey.  Obey our parents, our grandparents.  Obey adults and our teachers and preachers and our.  Obey our drill instructor and the police and the governor.  Obey our bosses and the company.  People who ask questions, disagree are trouble makers and are to be despised.

We obey, we do as we’re told and we discover ourselves in the field with blood on our hands, our live hopelessly blighted by obeying an order.

One of the first steps, I believe, in being a real human is breaking the habit of obedience.   I don’t mean automatically dissing everything, but don’t believe anything, nothing at all, simply because others believe and preach it.  Look at the facts, make up your own mind.  Act on your decision despite outside pressures and stand by your decision and action whether it leads to fame or disgrace.

To quote Mrs. Reagan (and I hate to), just say no.  To quote whoever it was, be true to yourself.  Stand on your own away from the influences of peer groups, neighborhood watches, congresses and presidents.  Don’t disagree just to be different, but think, decide and act.  Break the habit of obedience and do the best you can.

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