Our Self-Imposed Terror


Gandhi

 

“Stop hitting yourself!”  Does anybody else know that game?

While parents (and maybe especially fathers) may only be ‘rough-housing’ with their kids in a more innocent and playful manner sometimes, it is true that we learn anger, violence and many of the associated unhealthy practices and cycles early on as young children.  I’m not a trained psychologist by any means, but the information on the most impressionable years of life and child development is out there if you wish to become familiar with it.  Surely anyone who has lived for very long to observe the shift in generations has identified the patterns of behavior which are passed on from the attitudes and lifestyles adopted from one generation of any given family to the next.  Who hasn’t ever witnessed a young spoiled ‘rich kid’ who is being encouraged by his/her parents’ talk and behavior to look down their nose at other people, or a poverty-stricken child in a dreary home filled with abusive attitudes – and thought; ‘that poor kid doesn’t stand a chance?’  Visions of the conflicted and dysfunctional adult they might become can be a scary future to even consider – especially if that is a person to eventually come to fill positions of authority and power.  If nothing else, just the idea that these children are likely to grow up and pass these same unhealthy and destructive cycles on to the next generation is terrifying.  Take another step back to look at a longer timeline of multiple generations and how it all plays into the larger scheme of culture and society at large, and even more and clearer patterns can emerge.  The cycles of anger, hate, and violence are clearly seen for the perpetrated crimes they are against our own humanity; and sadly enough, probably an affirmation of the notion that we hurt the ones closest to us the most.  If there’s to be any breaking the cycle, it is armed with this knowledge and understanding of the bigger picture that the struggle to change has to begin.  The first step to healthy solutions is always the proper identification of what is the root of a problem.  If the complicated webs of angry disagreements and old hatreds are not only to be swept away, but prevented as well; then the appropriate target may not be the webs, but the spider creating them.  Like a virus or a slow poison, the menacing spread of the ‘dark side’ of human nature can be almost undetected until a critical turning point has already been reached.  It is only with vigilance and resolve of purpose that any of us may hope to set our hand to gently redirecting the trajectory of our own lives or attempting to help the lives of others in the struggle to break bad habits and replace the cycles of hatreds and violence with love and civility – or any other notion of a healthier existence.  It is in this spirit of love and the attempt to break hurtful and destructive cycles that I write this now.

Earlier this week, I wrote about the recent events of Charlottesville in which a young radicalized man of the neo-nazi ‘Alt-Right’ movement allegedly murdered a young woman and injured several others in a hate-driven terrorist attack.  I was quick to condemn the terror, those who were in any way supportive of its’ perpetration, and wrote my indictment of the ideology behind it that I believe inevitably leads to it.  While I wanted to help provide moral clarity and stark distinction between myself and those who would basically agree with my worldview, and those who actually lent themselves to the rise of a hate-based political ideology to the level of bloody terror in American streets; I also admit to not having all the answers how the current problems are to be resolved.  But, I do sometimes hear of or I myself may have an idea which actually seems as though it could potentially be a positive and productive strategy to resolving a real problem.  Those of you who read my previous post will understand that I (and why I) think that the rise of violent racial politics in America has reached a new milestone by the christening of the ‘Alt-Right’s’ coming out party in Charlottesville in a baptism of bloody terror.  But how do we Americans and humans in general deal with this unfortunate turn of events?  How do we proceed to diffuse such tension w/o running the risk of only feeding the beast of violence and bloodshed?  One of the biggest challenges to combating hate and terrorism is finding a way to bring a bloody ‘rain’ of terror to an end w/o becoming the very terror we wish to oppose, or combating it in such a way that tends to feed the hunger of the insatiable beast of chaotic violence like a ballooning blob.  As has been said before, sometimes we meet the enemy and realized that it us.  As much as we may feel uncomfortable admitting it, we are unfortunately looking at our fellow Americans in Charlottesville who took up hate-filled racial rhetoric and nazi salutes with a backdrop of fascist imagery; not only fellow Americans, but our fellow humanity.  In a way, we do stand collectively in a mirror as a species seeing ourselves and what we are self-imposing on our very ‘human condition.’

As I looked through the pics and videos of those radicalized white and mostly very young men from this last weekend’s march, I couldn’t help but be struck as to what seemed more to me of an emotional and psychological evolution into self-consumption with angers and aggression – as opposed to moral courage or intellectual integrity.  Maybe some of you have even already seen the video of a young man who wishes to distance his association with his newly outed movement apparently when he realized he was playing with fire way out of his league and asking for trouble…

 

In my previous blog, I wrote about how we should not underestimate this radicalized young group of racial activists and their potential for both rapid growth and increasingly violent radicalization.  I stressed the importance of preserving the individual life and liberty of every human being no matter their beliefs, but the urgent need to also find non-violent and constructive solutions to the current situation.  I have not claimed to know all the right or best answers, but I already shared the first thought which came to my mind is to adopt the strategy of combating the unfortunate speech of some with better counter-speech – and that both loud and clear!  It is easy to make fun of these young fascist radicals or to dismiss them too flippantly, as I’m sure many of them are very much like the young fascist ideologue Adolf Hitler – who many historians might accurately describe as a fearful and cowardly child at heart and the driven mind of an intelligent madman; truly the recipe for building a man and a movement like him to head up the SA, SS, & Gestapo organizations of the world.  But what to do when such a group of people and movement grow large and bold enough to take to the streets, spill blood, and rush forward with even more fiery rhetoric and blood-thirsty anger?

As the grandson of a European theater WWII veteran, I could almost even convince myself that I owe it to my grandfather and maybe even my whole post-WWII country and own affiliations to react in violence.  But that is not the right answer.  Lynching fascists would not prove them wrong, and it would run the risk of elevating them to martyrs; which might even backfire so badly as to get many other innocent bystanders hurt or killed, and would actually be a betrayal of my own principles regarding sanctity of life.  Then; there would be the destruction of our own lives, or one might spend the rest of one’s days in a small isolated box – not to mention the personal hell that descends on a conscience that has stolen a human life.  And there would be others we might not even be thinking about in far-reaching ways who would be deeply and forever hurt by such actions.  And the irony is; this angry and hate-filled racial collectivist politics that Cantwell and his fellow terrorists have adopted is really just a rationalization to give excuse and occasion to unnecessary violence – violence we now understand from the horse’s own mouth is intended to provoke.  Cantwell and others like him go down this path NOT because of intellectual integrity; spit fire and scream provocations NOT out of righteous indignation; but because they have terrorized themselves into a corner from which the only thing they have left to do is lash outward.  They have traded first principles which lead to life and liberty of all humanity, for the rhetoric of convenient excuse to lift the hand of wrath to a copout and scapegoat of an enemy.  Violence always has been, is, and always will be – a choice.  And only those who wish to organize for peace and do it as well as those who wish to organize for violence, and speak with moral clarity on firm foundation of the natural law – can hope to gently nudge the cycles of violence into a new awakening of peace and love among humankind.

As it is in times of great turmoil and tribulation, re-visiting our first principles is a wealthy resource for helping light our way forward.  Writing about those foundational ideas promoted by the American revolutionaries of our independence in my previous post was not just a method for finding political answers.  Those principles of life and liberty taken from the natural law in an Enlightenment worldview are also powerful for the revival of the individual human spirit and potential.  As a medically retired war veteran with chronic severe PTSD, I have had to learn a great deal about how to redirect all the turmoil and chaos of a traumatized mind into positive and constructive outlets.  My journey into recovery from PTSD has also opened up my understanding to the other cycles of trauma that are contributing factors to the severity of my condition.  I’ve learned that trauma does run in cycles and tends to compound until it reaches critical mass and just continues like the proverbial snow-ball effect and eventually a whole new level of hell for the traumatized mind.  The only way to interrupt the vicious cycle seems to be to learn to be cognizant of it and actively work the issue with all intellectual honesty and personal courage you can muster; and it is still your choice whether you attempt to do that with an attitude toward self-love, or self-loathing.  At some point, negative self-talk and ideas which have been planted in our minds for a long time – can and sometimes must – be challenged, and even replaced with new and more positive and productive outlets for the energy.  I am a child abuse survivor, a survivor of abusive religious indoctrination, a survivor of combat trauma, and I understand more all the time a survivor of self-trauma; it is the self-inflicted trauma over which I may have most control – the power to choose what I do with the negativity and darkness.  Would you be surprised to know that some of the therapies I’ve found most constructive and productive for me as outlets are playing drums to metal songs and training in Muay Thai and other martial arts?  Can you say, CATHARTIC?  If you think those are extreme hobbies and training disciplines, you should just realize you don’t know the extremity of the trauma with which I deal.

I don’t know the answers to our current growing pains in America, but I have come across at least one idea about which I am encouraged enough that it is the primary reason for writing this current essay.  While I confess I don’t know a lot about this specific group, I am hopeful at the idea of having ‘exit programs’ which could help de-radicalize potentially violent people…

https://www.lifeafterhate.org/services

 

This group ‘trolled’ a neo-nazi group in a really hilarious and creative way that I find positive and constructive…

 

We go back to those first principles of the sanctity of human life, the liberty that is inherent with that, and a countenance towards each pursuing our own happiness w/o violating our own humanity – in ourselves, OR each other.  This is where I wish to offer a word of encouragement to anyone else who deals with trauma and terror as a severe health issue; because we owe it to ourselves not to do to ourselves what we fought an enemy to keep away from our country… If you came home from an overseas theater in the ‘Global War On Terror’ alive, then please don’t just terrorize yourself; get the help you need, and don’t be shy to admit anything or to ask for it – if you keep looking, you can find someone who will care.  But you also have to consider that the first person who needs to want to care about you IS you… and you alone are responsible for intervening in the cycle of self-terror which you DO have a responsiblity to keep mitigated at least enough not to unleash your terror on others (at least not in any actual violent way (I am totally for being a ‘percussive terror’ as a ‘metal drummer,’ lol)).  I have been working this issue in my own health for years now, and I only share because it may help someone else in the same foxholes as me but who took a wrong turn at a few ‘love vs. hate’ junctions; anytime you want to make the choice to return to your humanity, it’s up to you to choose for yourself whether or not LOVE WINS.

Any dogma or rhetoric that would take you to calling for more blood in the streets in the name of racial hatreds following a terrorist attack, might be an oratorical hyperbole upon which you need some self-reflection.  I believe there are people who showed up to participate in the recent Alt-Right ‘coming out’ event who didn’t understand just how radical it was going to be.  I think some of these young (again MOSTLY men) genuinely already feel painted into a corner from which they have no escape.  For those who don’t wish to see an escalation in violence; maybe there are peaceful, unconventional, creative, positive, constructive, and even artistic ways in which we can provide these young radicals a way of escape besides following further down the path of self-rationalized hate and anger; maybe there’s something better than the continual pendulum of terror swinging back and forth in blood-stained swipes shared and suffered by all humanity.  I’ve caught myself saying this more all the time as I’ve gotten older; if we want peace on Earth, it begins with each of us choosing for our individual self to be a peaceful person.  Sometimes though, we miss the part where we need to learn how to find our own personal inner-peace first.  Our fights and struggles are really not ever just about ‘us vs. them;’ but quite often a product of our own self-imposed terror.  I’m a war veteran who is sick of terror and the wars we fight in its’ name.  I don’t want to fight this internal battle any more, but it’s my ‘war on terror;’ I don’t want to see America spiral into mass chaotic violence or an even more oppressive police state in the name of any ‘war on terror’ or racial politics or anything else.  If we each choose to live free, we may also live as free people; again, the choice is each our own – and the collective will only reflect what we each do individually.  It is times like we are in at this very moment when our character is revealed for what it truly is, and America is making a choice right now…

How will we all handle the cycle of our self-imposed terror?

 

 IMG_4249 A.G. “Brick” House is an Afghanistan war veteran and former licensed minister (UPCI), who has become an outspoken skeptic, peace advocate, and involved himself in many other issues which he believes affect the individual freedoms of the people whose constitutional rights he took an oath to defend.  He currently resides in southeast Texas where he is recovering from PTSD; enjoys the therapeutic hobbies of creative writing https://chaossection.com/, playing drums/percussion, training in martial arts, and other forms of artistic expression   \m/ 

 

 

 

 

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