Occupy: to take or fill up; to engage or employ the mind, energy, or attention of; to be a resident or tenant of; to take possession and control of, as by military invasion; to hold…(dictionary.com)

It is a word used by rebels and freedom fighters, by soldiers, governors, and dictators.  It is a tool of both the oppressor and the oppressed, a means of maintaining the status quo and fighting desperately to change it.  We occupy our government positions and our seats on the boards of our corporations.  We occupy the lands and territories we hope to control and influence, the peoples we wish to subjugate and command.  When our situation proves untenable, when our dreams become shattered among unsustainable realities, we move to occupy our streets, our cities, our towns.  We occupy to fight for our rights, to ensure the rights of others, and to preserve the systems and structures from which our chosen people have benefitted so much in our time.  And in the end, it appears few of us really take the time to figure out what it is we are actually doing with ourselves…

When we are young, we are taught to choose an occupation, to find a job, and establish a career.  We are taught that without a means of financial income, we are worthless members of society, a drag on the collective progress.  Individual passions be damned, our orders are to find a job and fall in line…just like everybody else…Yet, as our society evolves and as our jobs disappear to technology and the economic systems of the day, we are left wondering what it is for us to do.  We look to our leaders for answers and guidance and find none of it.  So in the end, we do just what have been taught our entire lives…we occupy…

Soldiers are taught to seize and occupy the high ground.  We are trained to hold key terrain and deny it to the enemy, control avenues of approach, maintain observation and fields of fire, emplace obstacles, and deny good cover and concealment to our adversaries.  When we occupy, we are there to hold for the long haul, to secure ourselves and secure the people within our bubbles, and to preserve the institutions which sent us there in the first place.  Sometimes we are welcomed.  Sometimes we are scorned.  And occasionally we are viciously attacked…For if there is one single truth in this whole game, it is that nobody appreciates a military occupation for any length of time…

Yet today our armies occupy most of the world from Iraq and Afghanistan to our embassies, consulates, and outposts in over one hundred countries on this planet, to the Palestinian territories occupied by one of our greatest allies of this time, to the hundreds of refugee and displacement camps, fault lines and demilitarized zones, and combat bases of our world.  We support governments who have occupied their seats and their people for far too long.  We support enemies who stare at each other across dangerous faults waiting for the spark to set off the next wave of violence.  We support our security forces who occupy our own cities as protection from terror.  And, on rare occasions, we support the rebels and freedom fighters hoping to end their own unsustainable occupations…But remember it was a mujahedeen ally of ours fighting against an illegitimate occupation in Central Asia who quickly turned against our own occupation of the Arabian peninsula amid the context of what Saddam would call the “mother of all battles” that lead us into the longest war in our nation’s history…truly occupation is a double-edged sword…wield it with care…

Occupation as we know it in our time can be both a catalyst for change and a desperate measure for preserving the old orders of our time.  Yet by its very nature it is unsustainable and impermanent, a brief transition phase between old and new forms of order.  Even when it may continue for years and sometimes decades, in the end it is designed not to last.  Nobody can occupy a seat of government, a board of business, a foreign land, an oppressed people, or a city’s streets forever.  And as we look to the future with dreams of building a new world for our children, that may be one of our only true hopes.  For out of the ashes of old occupations, we can arrive at real discourse and dialogue to solve the problems of our world and create our own endgames…

At this time, I am a soldier by training, trade, and occupation.  And yet I am still a rebel and a renegade by nature, a dreamer by heart, a free thinker by mind, and a human being by birth.  Despite my current occupation my true passion is the impossible, the bending and evolving of human reality, the shattering of our false boundaries, and the steady evolution of our societies and our species.  Despite the tough times we face now and the surely tougher ones in the years ahead, I truly believe until the moment I shall take my last breath in this life that there is nothing we cannot overcome, no wall we cannot break down, no reality we cannot achieve for our children.  But for now, we just have to occupy ourselves and slowly build the changes we wish to see in our own hearts and our own minds.  We must share our dreams and develop our ideas for achieving them.  And we must look to bring all our people, friends and enemies alike, into our next revolution in human affairs…Here’s to our generation, may be the last to know the injustices we face in our time and may our own evolution be kind to us…

Peace be upon you



15 NOV 2011, 2020 AST, Sharana, Paktika, Afghanistan


About briangdonnelly

I'm pretty much a random traveler and free thinker. Right now I live and work with the Army in North Carolina. I grew up in Missouri but am from the northeast US and have traveled a lot with the Army and life in general so I can't say I really have a "home" except where I chose to catch a few hours or rack each day. Overall, life is pretty awesome and I'm looking forward to changing the world. Hit me up if you care... Peace, Brian
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