Sunday, 15 September 2013

Pride and Shame - A tale of a US Marine 20 years after leaving the Corps

I am moving into a new unit this weekend.  Out of an old one I've lived in for over 15 years now.  The new one's floor plan is pretty much a mirror image of the old one. Slightly more open because the wall between the kitchen and living room was removed to give it a more open feel.  In addition everything is new.  New kitchen, new bathroom, new laundry.  New feel.  I'm excited with the change.

So over the next few days I'll be shifting my stuff up to the new unit.  It is just one over and one up.  Bit of a hassle to shift stuff but well worth it.  I've got the TV, microwave, liqueur cabinet and my music instruments that have been collecting far to much dust up there already.

I wiped down a metal plate with the Great Seal of the United States on it a few hours ago and put it in my cabinet.  For those of you that don't know much about it see the picture and read my explanation of the symbolism.

  The Eagle represents our nation. In is beak is a ribbon with words "E Pluribus Unum" meaning, "Out of Many, One" the unofficial motto of the since 1776.  When our great nation was founded.  So when people tell me "Why do you want to change the motto from 'In God We Trust', it has been that for so long!" I point out that for 180 years "E Pluribus Unum" was our motto and it is more in tune with what our fore fathers envisioned for this nation then the one we've had for less then 60 years now.  This nation was built on the principal of individual freedom.  The freedom to hold what ever religious belief a person wishes.  To worship the god of their choosing not one forced upon them by others.  To worship many gods if that is your belief and not be oppressed by a government saying your gods are not true.  Or to not worship any god as I do.

  This means people can look to their government to help bring us together.  The nation is the unifying force.  Not one persons invisible sky god.  A nation of people where the government is accountable to the people and worshipping Yahweh, Allah, Izanagi, Elohim, Brahman, Jehovah, Huwa, Shangdi, any other god or gods, or not worshiping any divine being is not a factor of your citizenship or patriotism.  Where we unite as a people of a great nation for the betterment of all regardless of our religious belief compared to our countrymen.

  In the eagle's left talon are 13 arrows representing the 13 original colonies and the recognition that sometimes we, as a nation, must fight for what is right.  In the eagle's right talon is a olive branch.  A symbol of peace while the eagles head is turned towards the olive branch signifying our nation's strong urge for peace and not war.

  This symbolism is especially significant these days.  Where we have the chance to achieve so much through diplomacy with other nations to get an outcome that is better for all with only  a credible threat of war in the back ground.  I wonder with the massacre occurring in Syria how will our grand children look upon us for our actions and inaction's? It saddens me that the politics of the world cares so little for so many killed in that civil war.  At least some progress may be made to remove the chemical weapons without going to war.  That said I fail to see what difference it makes if someone is killed by a bullet to the head or exposed to a nerve agent or something similar.  Not many of you would know that I've had a lot of training dealing with chemical weapons while in the USMC.  Some may have heard an odd story hear or there pertaining to some of the more comical situations I found myself in.  What I can tell you is this.  If I had to choose how to go, by bullet or by gas, I would not care.  The end result is the same.  The person responsible for my death is not more or less evil for killing me one way over another.  Thus when a few dozen people die from a chemical attack we should not be out raged by the chemical attack.  We should be outraged by the slaughter of dozens of people.  Should we feel less for Jews and others shot by Nazi's then those that were gassed? No we should not.

  I hope that diplomacy works in removing chemical weapons from Syria but recognize that it doesn't solve the underlying problem.  A problem that to much of the world doesn't really care about.  The use of force that has been suggested would not have solved the underlying problem either.  So in this case I take the lesser of 2 evils and support the use of diplomacy to remove, at least, one tool that government could use against its own people.

   I also just unpacked a box that I haven't seen in years.  It had an award I got from the Republic of Korea Marine Corps commandant back in 1993.  Sgt Kinney and I were the first 2 enlisted to ever receive that award.  When I opened the award I found a picture of me in my dress blues.  So many conflicting thoughts in my head right now.  I have such a sense of pride from back then and I now have such a sense of outrage for how much our nation has deviated from the principals that made the USA great.  Not just since I've been in but for so long before.  While I'm not ashamed of anything I've ever done while serving our nation I am ashamed of so many things I was ignorant to.  When I joined the Marines I thought the biggest threat to me was from the middle east but I really did not know the real reasons why.  Even today you'll hear "reporters", because I refuse to call them journalists, say that "they hate us because they hate us!" and this is so far from the truth it isn't funny.

  The reason we are hated is because of the way we conduct ourselves as a nation and as a people.  As a nation we are self serving and take everything we can.  As a people we are largely willfully ignorant of how our nation treats the rest of the world.  We condemn foreigners for fighting for what they believe in.  Those ideals are often at odds with our "national interests".  "National interests" that may be "good" for the USA short term but often very bad for the foreign nation and end up very bad for the USA long term.  Yet if the shoe was on the other foot we would be calling Americans doing the same thing to the hostile nation "Patriots".  We condemn Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons but don't blink when we use white phosphorus against our "enemies".  We didn't have a problem when Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against Iran.  Fuck we even told Saddam exactly were to send those chemical weapons for the biggest effect possible.  We quietly turned a blind eye when he also used them against his own people.  It is hard for us to try to stand on any moral high ground and say that al-Assad is committing war crimes when we ignore war crimes that our own nation commits.  It would be a lot easier to point the finger at Bashar for killing a hundred thousand of his own people if we, as a nation, were not responsible for the deaths of 20,000 civilians in Afghanistan over the last decade.

  The issue I have right now is the fact that the biggest pressure we have to fight there is to make corporations more money as we funnel money into a new war.  Not enough Americans care about 100,000 dead Syrians.  Not enough of the world care either.  The death of over 500 children in the last 18 months isn't enough because, whether you like it or not, to many people consider them as "non people".  If I could get the world to get Bashar out of control then, I hope, things would be better there.  But there are no guarantees.

  So where does that leave me.  Well like many things it is out of my hands.  I could ignore it but I've never been good at willfully ignoring stuff.  So I do what I can.  I let my elected politicians, in both countries, know how I feel.  I let people around me know how I feel, much to the disgust of some of you.  But if you've made it this far you must not be all that disgusted with my views even if you don't agree with me.  I understand how people don't want to get involved in Syria.  I only wonder what our grandchildren will think about what we did or did not do.

  If anyone has got to this point and don't want to see my rants let me know.  I'll give you the steps you need to do so that my posts don't show up in your news feeds within FB.  The only other step you  need to do is stay away from my blog, or as I call it "my online rant board"

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