Projects for a Brighter Future

         We are born into cycles. This isn’t to say if your father is a shoemaker you have no choice but to grow up and craft Nikes. America is the best and most free country in the world and as such, we are free to choose what paths our feet will tread. All the same, we are born into cycles. Scratch against the surface of the noble American image and we see signs of deterioration. Our frescos and pillars are worn by the strong winds of time and by the undirected impact of these cycles. Cycles of poverty. Cycles of failing education. Cycles of unplanned teen pregnancy. Perhaps sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the proud jewel that is a democratic society and its evil doppelganger, the mob. Perhaps “the mob” is Democracy in its infancy. Yet here we are, on the raggedy edge, nearly three centuries from the day the first American mob laid the foundation for the greatest nation in the world.

       Greatest Nation in the World. It is important to understand that we don’t hold the title by birthright. We are not entitled to supremacy by siting idly by, bragging about ourselves. All empires have rates of maturity as well as lifespans. If one day our nation reaches its demise, it won’t be because our ideals were wrong. It might end because we lead the world in violent crimes. It might end because every year 1.2 million American teens drop out of high school. Those dropouts commit 75% of the crimes committed in America. It might end because yearly there are over 300,000 teen pregnancies. Perhaps these are minor issues.

      There is an underlying zeitgeist that permeates our cultures and our souls. A herd mentality, resistant to progress, easily juxtaposed to the Ancient Roman Empire before its collapse. Our freedom and happiness is encased in tiny, vaguely interconnected bubbles. Digital bubbles interwoven combination of entertainment, infotainment, and information. We stay in these bubbles because they make us feel free and happy. They defend us from the darker side of life inhabited by sex traffickers and children who  know of nothing more noble than endless cycles of violence, drugs, and gang behavior. This is the happiness we carve out for ourselves. It is my belief that true happiness does not come synthesized and manufactured by turning a blind eye to the evils in our society. To me, happiness requires a self recognition that the work you are doing is meaningful, contributing on a global scale.

      How do we approach these issues head-on,  in a way that will inspire a brighter future? How do we raise the bar for what it means to be human?  Projects.  I have an idea for a monthly publication for middle school children involving positive reinforcement by local artists and writers. It will be theme-based with a different theme every month and include original pieces, current events, inspiring ideas and a hero figure for each publication. Children will learn that there is more to live for, more to aspire to, more to interact with than the endless cycles they were born into. We will inspire children to work hard and passionately break their cycles. 
      Oklahoma ranks third in human trafficking in the Nation. There was a non-profit organization in Oklahoma that worked on commissions to help find missing persons and spread human trafficking awareness. This group disbanded last year. In Tulsa, there is a place called “Day Spring Villa” that shelters victims of domestic violence and sexual trafficking. I want to put together a project that educates the public in creative ways as well as searches for common identifying markers in effort to find victims in their situation and bring them to the shelter. This project would work closely with law enforcement and in effect be eyes on the ground when their resources face limitations. 
       These are just two projects on my mind. I dream of a community that champions projects. Through projects, we can raise the spirit of our time into something noble and proud.


Mere Humanity

“I am human. “
This isn’t something we proclaim throughout our lives. I suppose most of us feel the concept is automatically and trivially internalized in the kernel of our mental operating systems. That part that processes the data we don’t really need to think about. We jump to sub categories like male and female, or Green Bay or Patriots, or Democratic or Republican.  That’s an oversimplification. There are millions of subcategories. Trillions.  All of these are the result of our own creation.

This is our super power. We are namers. We ascribe meaning to everything we discover in the entire universe because once we name it, we can learn to control it. Humans have been around for thousands of years and the one thing we have perfected is being able to give meaning to our worlds. It has become so integral to our genetic predisposition that we cannot function without it. Ascribing meaning is not necessarily tied to attaining facts or truth of a thing. It merely serves as a point of reference so we can understand our lives enough to operate coherently. 

Welcome to the civilized world. We have battled all other life forms on our planet to rise to the top. We have caged lions and bears and sharks and put them on display. We have rendered microscopic organisms powerless when once they could have wiped us out. We have tamed many of the venerable acts of nature, and among those we have not, we have become excellent at surviving. We have made advancements in every aspect imaginable. We can take a single element and use it to create systems of hyperbolic complexity. We have left our world, stepped foot on the moon, and begun to name the entire Cosmos. We have shed many of our most imaginative projected meanings for the scientific method. We have developed the power to heal ourselves and destroy ourselves. We have defeated Zeus, Odin, Magda, Yahweh and our hubris is not left wanting. Even so, until now, as a species, we have been operating largely independently.  Instead of wisely embracing a more global strategy when determining how to apply the meanings we create, we react to the meanings handed down to us by merely modifying or embracing them.
A species divided turns on itself. A species divided falls. “I am human” becomes the last truth remembered in any given scenario. We are divided and subdivided until each of us finds ourselves in cages of our own design. To our left, the lion. To our right, the lamb. At the bottom of this every-man-for-himself compost heap, gangs are formed. The sanctity of life is forgotten. We resort to violence like the barbarians we remain.  The complexities of our modern world only act as the bricks in the wall between us and our ability to focus on that which is most necessary. Modern entertainment serves as the mortar. We focus our ire, frustration, anger on each other.  We quibble. We throw fists. From within the confines of our walls, our kaleidoscopic vision sees a world at odds with ourselves. Perhaps this is why it is so convenient to wish to start over with civilization. Perhaps this is why it is so easy to wish for society to topple to give rise to an imagined phoenix. The toppling of societies and empires is a sign of times long past. In a sense, as long as humanity survives, there will always be empires. This is how we work. Furthermore,  we no longer live in an age that requires societies to falls for positive change to take effect.

The majority of our kind do not always comprehend the gravity of the meanings they project. Not the shallow meanings we all think we champion- be they real or imagined. The truth of the system in which our universe operates is that we are constantly defining our species- every one of us- by every action we commit.  When a husband beats his wife, he is defining humanity. When a warlord orders child soldiers to execute prisoners, they are defining humanity. Tonight I dream of the movers of the Earth laying the groundwork from which the World of Tomorrow is built. By embracing the idea of collective definition, transforming it into a symbol to rally behind and helping to guide that definition towards true progress, we can finally enter an age where the woes that plague our society will one day make our current state seem barbaric.  I dream of a day when by embracing this ideal, a fellow is saying they are holding themselves accountable for contributing to the definition of humanity.  I would that enough people embraced this idea until it becomes the standard.

Tulsa Crime Siege

              What happens when a few good men shine their duty belt Maglite’s into the overbearing darkness? The world remains dark. Federal, State and Municipal Law Enforcement agencies are reactive by design. At best, we push around the muck like rakes. We paint a convincing picture as to why criminals should take their business elsewhere. At worst, we are overrun with overcrowded jails, high turnover rates, low wages, and corruption. Federal Law enforcement is limited to enforcing Federal law. State Police enforce state and Federal Law. Municipal Law Enforcement has the duty of enforcing Federal and State law as well as City ordinances. But citizens of this country who reside in Oklahoma have the right to arrest any misdemeanor or felony they witness with their five senses.  We are enabling criminals to become bigger, faster, and stronger and to share their knowledge in this perpetual hug-a-thug criminal convention we know as incarceration. In a world where good people don’t take ownership for their lives, their communities, or their world, evil wins.

            Growing up, we spent our days stuck in the worlds of comic book superheroes. Our eyes eagerly scanned the pages of comics as we fantasized about battling super villains ourselves. We developed a fascination with a particular hero and clung dearly to the reasons that made him or her stand out among the rest.  As children we were attracted to the bright colors of their costumes. As teenagers, we imagined ourselves with their powers and began to understand the burden of responsibility that came with those powers. We looked up to superheroes as role models because they shattered the chains of normality which bound them and rose above the filth to take ownership of their worlds. Is this not why we fight? Have we not internalized their empowerment and made their values our own? Yet we try to balance our urges towards rightness with that normality that we understand as the daily grind of adulthood. We are all Sisyphus. We roll our stone up our hill in this Hades-esque life in an attempt to superimpose who we want to be over the mundane roles that have come to define us.  We need to ask something of ourselves, we who were the would-be Batmen, Supermen and Green Arrows of tomorrow; are we reaching for our potential? As we reach for our keys to open the cell door for a wannabe thug who is facing A&B by strangulation or child molestation charges…is this really all we have to offer the world?

                      Don’t misunderstand my frustration. We serve a vital function. According to the system in place, the bad guys must be separated from the good for anywhere from a short time to the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, it is no longer a deterrent. Incarceration caters to the inmate so much now that to even mention deterrence is laughable. Law enforcement has become something to be duped or outwitted instead of respected or feared. Yet there must be custodians, just like there must be people who deliver my bills to my apartment or empty the trash bins for my complex. I have always contemplated necessary functions that everyone takes for granted and understands are necessary but no one wants to do as a detached observer. No one brags about being a janitor. When thinking of those functions, I was always glad it was someone else. I always figured it was someone who didn’t have anything else to offer the world. It was JFK who challenged us to give as much to the world as we possibly could. Why trudge through the normality? Why break our backs on the road towards obesity and lethargy for a laughable wage as custodians when we could creatively shape the answer to the criminal element that lurks in the ever present darkness?

                     There is a question of making ends meet. Once we begin working here, it isn’t necessarily easy finding other work that pays the same or better. I came here from a seventeen dollar an hour wage, never having had to worry about money before, and fantastic ideals of what it means to be a sheepdog spurring me forward. Now, I am floundering financially, and the juggling act between military, TCSO, school, and Familial obligations is overwhelming.  Trying to juggle so many commitments that all think they should hold priority is one thing. Being virtually financially destitute is another. Not being able to get half as much sleep as my body needs is yet another. To surround myself with uneducated inbred swine and thugs all day is the last straw.  These personalities don’t need a custodian. We work in the entertainment and distraction business. They don’t need honey buns and hot water and cool aid. They need to fear The Law. They need to fear Justice. They need to leave incarceration with the thought of committing another crime so far from their minds that they plead with the worlds they re-emerge into to do whatever it takes to stay out as well.

            I’m sure that won’t happen in our lifetime. The bad will never become too timid to act. The good will always give the encroaching filth another inch for the sake of freedom. The only alternative is to take the war to the shadows and inspire the good people too comfortable and apathetic to join the voice of Good.  This is a social intellectual conversation that needs to be made. Why, in a country that boasts of being the most civilized, democratic, and progressive, do we only lead the world in number of incarcerated individuals and number of adults who believe angels are real? We complain about our government pillaging and plundering our constitutional rights. What are we doing as citizens to give credence to what it means to be American? What about the wars right here at home?  Are we satisfied coasting, trying to eek by, barely discerning a difference between the sheepdog and it’s sheep?

                        Here we stand on the raggedy edge, oblivious to the dangers we skirt. Personal dangers are acceptable. We can place ourselves in harm’s way for the greater good. What of the dangers facing our community and country- both foreign and domestic? China develops its plans to make its currency the currency of world business. What happens to America when our dollar plummets to third world equivalency? Do we wait until those without moral compasses have built their empires past our ability to overcome them? We wear out our shoes for each dollar we earn to maintain life as we understand it. We understand enforcing reactionary rules and following orders. Sometimes we win. Sometimes we lose. This will not carry our nation through darker times. In war, when a city cannot be taken by storm, it is laid siege to.

                    Perhaps the time has come when we can no longer remain satisfied with reacting to the criminal element of Tulsa. I respectfully postulate that the steady force of crime warrants a siege. The American Spirit of straining- not to maintain a status quo- but to reach towards a nobler version of ourselves must never perish. We are a badly remembered dream of better men. The dignity and passions of our founding fathers were the bricks and mortar for a country meant to serve as a bastion for the creative, the daring, and the courageous and not a haven for those canker sores of society who leach off the blood, sweat and tears of the contributing majority. The sanctity of human life reigns supreme. These ideals must permeate every facet of our identity and on a day like today when we look inside ourselves and find that isn’t so, we must decide to take the first steps necessary to fix it. 

                   The criminal element of our society is an encroaching filth that threatens to undermine our very constitution. It is my dream to one day be a part of the proactive solution that lays siege to the evils that plague our society. 

The Brave and the Bold

There was a time. There was a time when revolution was an American thing. There was a time when, if societies at large were not on the right side of history, passionate men and women would rise up with their words and actions and shock the world with the bitter stuff that change is made of. Their convictions coursed through their veins like fire, sparked between synapses like lightning, convincing them that their comfort and lives were less important that the causes they were fighting for. People die for much less. Men kill themselves when they discover infidelity in their relationships. I am not writing to those men. I am writing to better men.

There was a time when the recreational use of drugs was like a child playing with a Ouija board. Perhaps this is how many forays into criminal activity are initiated. We are antithetical mosquitoes, attracted to the risk of the unknown. We are attracted to some thrill of the dark. Under cover of darkness, we don’t have to see how ugly we become, how disfigured our bodies, how mangled our souls, how raped our dignity. As children we reach out to demons, not understanding their threat, and they latch on sucking us dry until they’ve become roided monsters holding us down by our frail necks as feeble adults.

No one thinks to themselves, “Today I’m throwing away my dignity. “ Does this word even have meaning anymore? Have we thrown it into the archives with Latin and all the other dead languages of those who’ve gone before? This is the bottom line. This is our American Zeitgeist; our culture is devoid of dignity. Look around you. I don’t even need to recount recent events or turn on your TV or direct you to a news site. You need only look into the mirror, before putting on the faces you hide behind, to know it is true.

There was a time when I was convinced my words and music could sustain myself and move the world. That was before my son, Atlas, was born. Since then, I’ve left the Navy to join the Air Force Reserves. I realized I needed the structure of the military and I appreciated the financial stability it can provide. Since then, I’ve began working as a Detention Officer for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office while applying to go Deputy there as well as applying for the Seattle Police Department. There are sheep who fall prey and there are wolves who need prey. Then there are sheepdogs. This is noble. This has dignity.

My time in the jail here has taught me two profound lessons. The first is that there is no dignity. A jail that can house 1700 inmates, tops, houses well over 2000 and it is still the tip of the criminal ice berg. Most of these people have psychological issues in which they cannot deal with society on society’s terms. None of their moral compass’s work. None of them have a shred of dignity. It is like as a child, dignity wasn’t taught to them and in its place some lesser, grotesque ideas were crammed inside, ill-fitting, festering into the problems we have today. This is a crazy, darker, far more violent world than what most people witness in their lives outside of a few unfortunate encounters.

My second lesson was that in this world, none of these crazies fear justice. They are not intimidated by the swift gavel of the law. It isn’t even that they make an effort to act unafraid. In their worlds, they don’t give Justice legitimacy. Just as dignity is not something they can fathom, neither is Justice. They are completely convinced they can outfox us, outmaneuver us, and overpower us. By this philosophy, Law Enforcement as an institution is not something to be feared, but duped. And let’s face it; when a handful of good men peer into the darkness with flashlights, there is still much darkness. There will always be more people committing crimes than people holding criminals accountable. That should not be a reason for Justice to be something criminals can laugh at. A people should never fear its government. I’ll give you that. Criminals SHOULD fear Justice. Jails and prisons are no longer a deterrent for committed offenders.

What we need is something else. New. More. I am responsible for the condition of this world’s future, for my son’s sake. I don’t want to send him to school wondering if his friends are doing drugs. Wondering if his friends are encouraging him to lose his virginity at 14. In the past when conventional warfare was not enough, armies would lay siege to cities. After days, months, or years of being a powerfully present force just outside the city walls, cutting off supply to the city, waging psychological warfare, the city would fall and the armies would swarm inside to reap the benefits of their patience and diligence.

Our actions as a country need to be oriented around regaining dignity and laying siege to crime in new ways. In creative ways. Ways uniquely our own. That is something for each of us to approach in our own ways.  As for me…

The Siege starts now.

Real Men of Genius

I started this WordPress four years ago just as I was finishing up my senior year in high school and preparing to ship out for the Navy. I had many motives for starting this blog, chief of which was my reaction to the culture shock of trying to survive in a school where people were more focused on fighting each other and having sex than succeeding in college and being as happy as normal high school angst would allow. I also started writing because my friends got tired of my mass emails that were directly resulting from my need to actively pursue a greater meaning and understanding of my life as well as my need to express myself through words.

It was around this time I had a conversation with the father of a good friend of mine about the possibility of world peace. At the time, my understanding of the idea of world peace was as vague as the average hippie’s and just as idealistic. “Yes, I’m joining the Navy for money for college. No, I don’t think what we’re doing in the Middle East is the best thing towards peace as I don’t think you can force peace with violence. No, I don’t think withdrawing completely and immediately would be a good idea either. I’m going to save the world. That is all.” That was the extent of my reasoning. Then I shipped out, and found out just how easy it was for me to get bogged down in the trivialness of being on the bottom of the totem.

You see, back when our Navy was young and Naval officers won Glory on the field of battle as well as the field of honor (Dueling: they would take a few paces away from each other, turn around, and shoot once. They would do this until one of them was either dead or was incapable of continuing due to bodily injuries sustained.) Enlisted members, midshipmen, carpenters, et cetera, were usually criminals. The menial labor was considered punishment for crimes. The captains usually ran tight ships, and punishment for negligence came in the form of extreme humiliation and public whipping.

Today’s Navy has taken away the whip and overall has become much softer and gives much better treatment in comparison to the treatment given those criminals at sea, but in my opinion, the honor that is derived from carrying out my cleaning duties and sitting here is about as glorious as being a janitor for the CIA. It is not enough to merely be a part of a “Global Force for Good.” I have opinions, and one of those opinions is that anyone who has opinions about anything, whether it involves something at home or something outside of our country, should do something about them. Don’t complain about society or the whales or your state’s governor or the deficiency of our school systems unless you aim to do something about it. I want to be more than the man who sits at home watching TV with a beer in hand who complains about “The Man.”

Granted, in the scheme of things I have nothing to complain about. For my first orders I was stationed in Italy. I upheld some of the oldest traditions in the Navy, older than even the field of honor. I’m not ashamed that I volunteered my fridge to be brought downstairs at cook outs to keep everyone’s alcohol cold. I was there when the fourth deck of BEQ 1 in Capodichino saw its last party, before everyone was moved off base to minimize the intense awesomeness that our parties endeavored. I’m proud of the endless pubcrawls in Rome and Florence and that I held my alcohol with the best of Americans, and British, and Aussies. Suffice it to say I won’t miss those days. I was dying to live; desperate for the feeling of being alive even at the expense of my own clarity. It was the Josef Green at the time. This is the Josef Green of this time.

I joined the Navy due to lack of direction and lack of money. I often lost sight of my goals, in truth because I had none less vague than wanting to feel alive and not wanting to find myself on my death bed regretting my life. If you utilize the military for this purpose, it is up to you to define how it turns out for you and whether it enables you to find direction and meaning or if it just postpones the inevitability of the moment when you have to make a decision about life and find yourself still at a loss for sure footing. It is easy for someone such as me to forget that the present moment, no matter how dull, is paving the way for a moment in the future in which true happiness is accomplished through achievement. My best friend, Silviu, understood this way before I have and in that regard, I envy him. This moment must be integrated into the strategy towards that moment in the future.

What is my strategy, you ask? Well, as it should, it involves my son. People ask me what I plan on leaving for my son. Do you think someone such as me looks forward to leaving nothing so much as my battered leather jacket or a little money for him to piss away? I arrived at the conclusion a long time ago that once a person is gone, stuff doesn’t mean much, not even their body. Memories mean everything. Ideas mean everything. Empowerment means everything. I want to leave wonderful memories for my son. I want to leave a better world for my son. I want to leave pride for my son. I want to be the rocket that shuttles his own into space and slingshots it towards the stars.

Doing this requires involvement and love, sure, but also something else. It involves a test. Let my life become the testament of my results of that test. Let the test measure me against the dauntless men of genius and action that moved the world on their shoulders. Men like William Eaton who led 1000 ragtag men including American marines, Turks, Arabs, and Bedouins- most of which threatened desertion countless times- across the desert from Egypt to Tripoli (and in less than 40 years, mind you, Moses would have been dumbfounded), with the force of American Naval power deserting him, and brought the tyrant Bashaw, the scourge of Europe, upon whose shores laid the mangled, rotting corpses of exhausted Christian slaves, ultimately to his knees. Even when Eaton finally reached Tripoli, his motley crew was outnumbered 10 to 1. It was his truly indomitable spirit that demanded order through impossible chaos and saw Thomas Jefferson’s intentions through to the end.

You and I complain and quibble over mundane trivialities in the 21st century and begrudge anything uncomfortable because we lack the motivation of honorable purpose. We lack that focusing drive towards greatness. We become too preoccupied with the mud pies of instant gratification. Happiness through achievement does not come without sacrifice or exertion of energy. Even Will Smith’s character in “The Pursuit of Happiness” knew that. And World Peace? Anyone who thinks world peace will come without violence is naïve. Due to the intrinsically varying nature of humanity, there will always be a group of people whose foundation of perception involves not the sanctity of life but in its stead the persuasion of their own agenda through force and violence. Humanity has not progressed in such a way that this fact will change in my lifetime and as long as it is a fact of life, pursuing peace and pursuing safety means being capable of defending ourselves from injustice as well as defending those who cannot defend themselves. That said, do we have the resources and money to fight everyone else’s battles? Not by any stretch of the imagination. As long as there are people who wish for violence, our military branches will always have an honorable purpose, but it will not be the method in which I pursue my purpose. I prefer a more direct road, a road more inviting for my strengths, talents, and passions.

This concludes the rambling, digressing, but well intentioned train of thought of this blog as I make my way from active duty enlisted sailor and into the next phase of my adventure: Fatherhood and beyond.

The Code

The processes that comprise my resurrection are slow-acting. My mental voice retains the sluggish intensity of a pre-infant whisper. I open my eyes and suddenly I am awake to a world of endless responsibility, but I cannot attach myself to it. Not yet. The chemicals in my body aren’t flowing fast enough yet. My entire existence hangs on the balance of retrieving my gumption from the farthest reaches of oblivion. Feebly, I realize this struggle cannot go on in this manner, so I painfully push myself to get out of bed and take my struggle to the shower. It is the struggle to become fully awake and I have fought it every day for many years.

The steamy water does not succeed in blasting my eyes comfortably open. They’re still painful slits as I dry off and put my clothes on. My mental voice gains confidence, but it is a bitter confidence. A resigned confidence. The Sun is not up yet, but it will be, and so must I.  That is where my confidence ends. It seems so little ground in comparison to it’s lofty goals of becoming the Josef Green that my friends and family love the most. But it is ground I’ve gained, and I methodically accept it and continue forward.

Despair makes itself cozy. Despair is everywhere my confidence is not and as I push my breakfast around in my tray it makes use of its mirthless cackle. I ignore it. I’m trying to gain my momentum now. I show up to work, not ready, unenthusiastic, but there. My actions must endure when everything else in me fails.  I’m rolling my boulder up my hill. Hours go by and I’m still struggling with my boulder. But my voice is louder now. Its edges are defined. It is a little more interactive in my surroundings. When I’m being spoken to, I’m no longer pulling levers and throwing switches in the most detached responses imaginable. Not as much at any rate. I’m fighting for my speech to be me talking to you and not just myself standing by and casually watching me perfunctorily respond to you, them, or whomever.

I fight to connect and submerge myself into my life. I am doing all I can to plug into the story that is exclusively my own. And then, after many imperceptible victories over despair and most of the 12 hour work day, I reach my mountaintop. My voice is the nuclear fusion of the Sun. And with that voice, comes a need. This need has been with me ever since I first learned how to read. It was the motivation that drove my ridiculous scientific disasters as a youngster, had me trying to run for class president at an elementary school I had attended for only a month, and had me trying to convince my high school friends to sell plasma so we could raise enough money to attend DEFCON in Las Vegas.

This need is driven by a fear. I am sure this fear wasn’t the root cause of the need, but as surely as I sit here typing, that single fear has developed. Subsequently I am driven to use the most accessible tools at my disposal to describe it. A rule we all learned in elementary school was that it isn’t adequate to define a word while using it in its definition. You can use the word in a sentence to derive its connotations and meaning, but in a simple definition, you must use completely different words. What about ideas about which it is impossible to convey their full gravity by using words alone at all? I would that my life becomes a legacy that defined an idea that could otherwise not be conveyed. I would that I base my life on truth, and not confuse opinions with truth. But what I fear most in this life is reaching my death bed having actively engaged in this world to the extent of a mere ripple. I have my voice back. I am awake. I am alive. The ocean and I are alike in our perpetual motion. I will be a tsunami. My raison d’être becomes my journey towards maximizing my life’s affect on the world. Anything less is not enough.

Of course, I am not a tsunami. I am not an indomitable force of nature. I am not Batman. I am a human. I make mistakes. Some of my actions affect others in ways I will never know. Not all those ways will be good. This is the fact of life; that action and reaction is chaotic because each of us can only control and be aware of so much in our surroundings. Many turn to religion for guidance and for wellness. Knowing that there’s someone out there who has everything in control would be a great feeling because I know that I certainly don’t. But it is not a truth. It is an opinion-based perception that is made tangible ONLY by faith. In no way is it made tangible by reality.

With this knowledge I choose to be free of the guidance as well as the opinion-based perception. I cannot accept the opinion-based perception, and when it comes down to religion, it really is all or nothing.  But for so long I had this idea that perhaps there was a subconscious part of me that was in touch with my road on a deeper level. I felt as if I could never regret any of my actions. That perhaps having an awesome life of a man of action would come effortlessly to me. I became too proud in what I was good at and forgot just how imperfect I am. My friends back in Tucson loved the Joe Green that was imperfect, who was always talking about being a ninja, who had horrible pick up lines. But in every aspect that could be observed, I was more imperfect than any of them. Even now, they are better people than me. I am loud about my good intentions, but they are doing more with their lives.  For me to achieve my dreams, more effort is required of me. It is time I accept that.

Upon accepting this, I realize I need a code. Without a code I’m going to end up as another statistic, continuing cycles of suffering. I would rather end my life this instant than to live with the fact that I continue cycles of suffering. I need to deliberately choose my behavioral vectors. I need to think through, in detail, my own road, to create the schema of guidance that is suited to my responsibilities as well as my mental and spiritual needs. Spiritually speaking, I must pursue my legacy. Responsibility-wise, I must work in ways that maximize production and results. A world merely comprised of starving artists and hipsters is not substantial enough. I need to give back to the world.  I need to find opportunities for activism and develop my will towards leadership. I need to earn for myself and my family. I need to supply the passion and stability for Jennifer, my son, and I to be a smooth and loving unit- truly a Ka-Tet. I need to become both an intellectual and a man of action (if there is a difference between the two. I’m not entirely sure there is…) in every aspect of who I am.  I need to create in myself a bulwark against my old foe, despair. And finally, I need to never disclose that code I create. It will be for me and me alone.

With this need comes awareness. The sanctity of life is at stake in the Gaza Strip. In Lebanon. In Iraq. In Afghanistan. In  Libya. In Darfur. In Somalia. In China. In Portugal. In Japan. In Indonesia. In North Korea. In the Indian Ocean. In Brazil. In Egypt. In Bahrain. In the countless women and children being trafficked across the globe. On the Ivory Coast. In America. Just as I can see through the outrageous propaganda the Tulsa Public School System is putting out to make their School consolidation sound like anything other than a desperate move to cut funding on education in the area, I can see through the Republican and Tea Party masquerades, through their explicit demands and their implicit power plays. There is too much politics in American Politics-across the board- and not rational, educated calculation. On so many levels, in so many ways, this world needs concise, inspiring action. And I know that as one person I can only do so much, so I look to the peers of my country, America, I look at all the young and able bodies full of vitality and potential, and see…

People arguing over the simplest things. People watching Jersey Shore on TV. People concerned about no more than their favorite fashion, sports team, bands, or political flavor. People looking at all our problems and saying, “It’s out of our hands! God will provide!” Or they spew out conspiracy theories and over a few beers complain about how powerless they are and how little their needs are met by what is supposed to be the greatest and most democratic, “For the People” country in the World. If they even get that far.

Chuck Palahniuk had it right:

“The sound shivers through the walls, through the table, through the window frame, and into my finger. These distraction-oholics. These focus-ophobics. Old George Orwell got it backward. Big Brother isn’t watching. He’s singing and dancing. He’s pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother’s holding your attention every moment you’re awake. He’s making sure you’re always distracted. He’s making sure you’re fully absorbed… and this being fed, it’s worse than being watched. With the world always filling you, no one has to worry about what’s in your mind. With everyone’s imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world.”

Mental baby food. That’s all we have appetites for, generally. It isn’t enough for me.

Because I am awake. I am making my code. I am imperfect, but I can see the world as it could be in my dreams. I can remember the dreams of my youth. I aim to do something about it.

But my nuclear fusion is too bright when night approaches. I push myself to the raggedy edge of my limits at the weight room to experience the euphoric high of physical exhaustion. I take a shower before slowly, awkwardly, climbing into my rack and closing my eyes. Then I spend hours just laying there, my thoughts too loud for me to sleep. If I’ve picked up a particularly good book, like that Harry Dresden novel I was reading last month, I’ll lay there, deliberately, desperately, lapping up the words. Desperately defiant of the time ticking away. In moments like those I have to make myself truly appreciate the pleasure of well-written words, of the escalating excitement of the storyline. I pause frequently to tell myself that it will be worth being extra exhausted in the morning, because there’s nothing I will be looking forward to this morning than another Monday, in a half a year full of Mondays, and my struggle just to once again wake up.

Changing Course

I know no one reads this. I just wanted to make my new direction tangible. I’m going to be spending a considerable amount of time on a boat for a while. Then I’ll be finally getting out of the Navy. My raison D’etre will be my main goal, which is to dominate the journalism industry. But in the meantime I’ll be working on my book.  No, it won’t be about me.

That’s all I’ve got.

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