On Reality, Unity, and Duality…

We live in a world which appears quite separate and distinct from the one which we feel inside our bodies.  From within our biological vessels we see, experience, and interact with all aspects of our environment.  Yet within these vessels we are also imprisoned and limited as to our understanding of that perceived reality’s true nature.  Although we are biologically a part and constituent of all the things which make up our environment, the membrane of consciousness we have created to shield us from it also distinctly separates us from this ecological unity.  We can perceive the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the ground beneath our feet, and the close personal connections we feel towards others which make up the core of our being, yet we cannot conceptually identify any of these any of these separate entities as part of our ultimate reality.  Locked in duality we understand only the separateness between our world and ourselves, and thus we fail to acknowledge many of the subtle connections which bind us to our environment and even more intimately to those around us…

A long time ago, in what quite honestly feels like a different lifetime, I examined our perception of duality and came to the realization that to truly understand a paradigm, concept, or idea it is often best to begin by first examining its opposite.  Within that context, if we wish to fully understand the nature of our current duality consciousness and paradigm it is best that we delve more deeply into its complementary paradigm of unity.  Through this lens we might ultimately see the nature of how we are both connected to and essentially one with our environment, and perhaps we can better understand the concepts which give rise to our current perception of separateness.

The essence of unity applies the presupposition that while we may all perceive differences in our states and conditions we are inherently connected to a much larger collective reality.  Although we all go about our lives as distinct and separate conscious entities, unity emphasized that the connections which bind us together are much greater than the sum of our collective differences.  Thus, the past we have encountered, the present we experience, and the future we create are tied not just to our individual selves through thought, action, and decision, but intimately entwined to our collective human consciousness and human experiences.  With this understanding, the role of the individual is not necessarily minimized or discredited, but rather empowered based on his or her numerous connections to the greater level of human experience and consciousness.  This can be directly tied to things like our collective triumphs of happiness over suffering and of love over hate.  Delving even deeper into this concept, it can be noted that perhaps the ultimate manifestation of human unity can be found in the emotional and physical strength of our love, not in the sense of one individual’s emotional ties to another, but in the greater consciousness of true love for all people and things in our society and our world.  And if these concepts hold up to the tests of our understanding it may be elementary to presume that the solution to many of the great problems faced by our human condition can be found simply by reenergizing this greater universal sense of love within our species…

Looking at our sciences we can begin to see this dichotomy of unity versus duality playing out on large scales within our universe.  For many years, science focused all of its collective efforts on large objects and forces that could be readily examined, measured, and utilized.  These concepts brought forth many of the great leaps of modern science over our history including the harnessing of electrical power, the creation of the automobile and airplane, and the power of mass industrial-scale production.  Around the beginning of our last century however, our scientists began to notice very large and statistically significant anomalies within the very makeup of matter as we perceive it.  This break from pure Newtonian physics led us to the fields of quantum physics and its concepts of relativity, uncertainty, wave/particle duality, quantum entanglement, and string theory.  As our physicists and cosmologist delved even deeper into the fundamental structure and origins of matter in our universe, our parapsychologists and investigators began to discover new and interesting enigmas within the human conditions particularly those tied directly towards things like clairvoyance, telepathy, and extra sensory perception.  The statistical significance of these discoveries has resonated deeply with the scientific understanding of quantum entanglement and introduced the new concept of the potential informational nonlocality into our collective lexicon.

The limitation of our scientific discourse however appears to be even greater than its apparent strengths as it fails to accommodate for several aspects of our true human reality.  Several years after the development of quantum physics and with the development of incredibly powerful technologies, our scientists still lack a coherent picture of the fundamental nature of matter in our universe.  The failure thus far to develop a unified theory of everything to encompass all of the known forces in our world, the strong and weak nuclear force, electromagnetism, and gravitation continues to perplex our finest minds to this day.  Along the way, science has effectively decided to shut out the complementary fields of philosophy, sociology, spirituality, and parapsychology as it continues to preach its internal dogma of scientific materialism even in the face of compelling evidence as to a much different and more complex picture of human reality.  While the capabilities of modern science are truly astounding, its potential, like all human endeavors, is often limited by the walls and false boundaries it builds with other aspects of the human experience.  A science based solely on materialism and duality can never truly understand or comprehend all aspects of the human condition just as a system of philosophy or spirituality cannot explain all properties of matter and the forces creating it.  And it is only by bringing greater unification to our intuitively separate fields of discourse and inquiry that we might be able to fully understand and utilize the wondrous nature of our human condition.

When deeply considering the competing concepts of duality and unity, the essence appears to be that they are ultimately one in the same and just based upon our differing individual and collective interpretations of events and conditions.  Although we exist separately in this world as conscious human beings, we share a connection to all other members of our species and parts of our environment and this unified duality makes up much of our human reality.  I feel that in time we may come to a better understanding of our collective human consciousness with separate and distinct experiences of that essential oneness, and that that might be one of the most liberating experiences in the history of our species.

For the future, this understanding will likely be the most critical in determining the success or failure of our great human experiment.  If we can find a way to understand the unifying nature of our separateness, I feel that as a species we have no choice but to thrive, grow, and evolve together.  Yet should we condemn ourselves to our present illusions of complete duality and ultimate separateness from one another, I see only a long and arduous road ahead combined with a very steep learning curve as we try to pursue or collective and individual survival.   In these most critical of times, we must take the necessary moments to reflect on our lives, our connections, and our realities for the path we chose to follow will ultimately be up to us and us alone.  Go with love and remember to smile…It always works…In La’kesh.

Cheers,

Brian

06 June 2013, 2245 (L), Raeford, NC, USA

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Times Like These…

There are certain critical moments within the evolution of complex societies when they are forced to look themselves in the mirror, examine their finite realities and infinite possibilities, and choose to either confront and challenge their existing paradigms or be destroyed by them.  These moments are filled with great unrest, insecurity, and mass confusion as societies and their members feel the coming storms on the horizon yet cannot truly find the strength, courage, or wisdom to fully examine their meaning.  They shy away from the mirror of their collective consciousness as the images they see are too complex, too revealing, and oftentimes too dark for comfort.  So they regress into their old habits, paint false dichotomies of duality over unity in their minds, look for scapegoats and “others” to blame for their collective suffering, and dig their heads and hearts deeper into the sand until they convince themselves that tomorrow will be just the same as today…

In critical times like these, which I strongly feel our beloved human race is just beginning to experience, the challenges ahead often appear too daunting, the existing paradigms too strong, and the darker sides of reality too powerful for any meaningful solutions or new realities to be possible.  Yet we all must keep the faith, my friends.  Silly humans we are indeed.  Our massive brains allowed us to understand this world better than any other species on our planet.  They gave us our sciences through which we are able to delve deeply into examining our universe and the forces, energies, and fields which define our reality.  And yet somewhere along the way, they caused us to lose touch with our humility.  We thought we could explain every possible phenomenon in our world through science and in the process forgot just how little we actually understand of our present conditions and the infinite possibilities of our future.  At a few moments in time, our religions tried to reminds us of these great mysteries but too often they succumbed to the painful nature of man and his quest for power and dominance over his fellows.  And so now we stand at the cusp of the greatest transition in the history of our species, and quite possibly the history of our entire universe, blinded by our ignorance, divided by our dualities, and crippled by our insecurities…

Yet rejoice my fellow humans!  Take a bit of time to smile, dance, and play a bit.  Our future is quite a lot brighter than our present and we are slowly realizing the truly infinite nature of its possibilities.  Life on this planet and in this universe has a unique way of avoiding its own extinction, of solving its own problems, and revealing its own lessons provided simply that its members are open to the experience and interested in their own evolution.  Life is truly wondrous indeed!!!

And so as we continue through these very interesting times, I give you three simple pieces of advice, elements of ancient wisdom in the hopes that they may give you each the courage to look deeper into the mirror of our collective consciousness and find just a few of the infinite possibilities available to our species as we enter this awesome and truly amazing transition…

The first is quite simple.  No matter the question, fear is never the answer.  For some reason we now live in a culture defined by fear.  We are constantly looking over our shoulders, arming ourselves to the teeth, and keeping our eyes glued to our television sets waiting for the next terrorist attack, violent crime, economic meltdown, or natural disaster to shake our world.  We feel deep uncertainty about our future and so we try our best to hide from it.  We know deep changes are coming, yet the fear drives us away from understanding them and capitalizing on their opportunities.  Of course the simple truth remains that our world is changing and nothing we do can prevent that.  Change is simply the essence of existence and our reality.  But if we remove ourselves from fear we are likely to see a bit more of its truly marvelous nature…

Second, true happiness comes only from within and is not based on any external conditions…As we go through this transition we will notice a greater tendency to attach ourselves to various aspects of our current paradigms.  We will find ourselves holding on to things like careers, relationships, finances, and material possessions falsely believing that such things bring us happiness rather than the other way around.  For ultimately they are simply our internal sense of happiness manifesting itself in our physical world.  In the coming years, a safe assumption is that our realities will be shaken so violently that many of these environmental measures of happiness will leave us or simply transition into other forms.  If we are too deeply attached to them, our souls will suffer from their loss.  Yet if we realize that true happiness comes only from within, its future physical manifestations are likely to be much more spectacular than any of our wildest present dreams can imagine…

And finally, pure love for all people and all things will always triumph over hate.  Just about every one of our major religions in history has tried to explain this little tidbit of ancient wisdom to us our collective consciousness and I feel that is it truly one of the fundamental laws of our universe.  It just exists in some form which we cannot adequately perceive and define at this time.  The concept of pure unity, the ultimate manifestation of love, seems so foreign to us in this dualistic society that I don’t believe many of us have adequately internalized it yet.  And it many ways, I feel that is the deep, underlying reason for our present predicament.  Always remember my fellow humans, just as our cutting edge quantum physics are slowly beginning to show us, that intention truly matters.  And in fact, it could be the only thing that matters at all!  And if you should combine pure loving intention with pure attention you will soon see all of your silly human problems slipping away back into the void from which they came!  Love truly is the resonant frequency of this universe and the more you explore and play around with it, the stronger your infinite possibilities manifest themselves into this awesome reality!

And so my dear friends and fellow humans, that is all I have to give you at this time.  Go forth and play in the infinite potential of your realities.  Remove yourselves from fear, find the true happiness within, and remember how to love because that is the true essence of your awesomeness.  Times like these are interesting and at certain moments quite demanding.  But through this transition our future is much brighter than anything we could possibly imagine.  In love and In La’kesh (you are another me and I am another you).

Cheers,

Brian

21 APR 2013, 2240(L), Raeford, NC, USA

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The End of an Age…

The more I travel, the more people I meet, and the more I take the time to read, think, and reflect the more aware I become of the knowledge that we live in amazing and critically important times.  Our moments on this earth at this point in our history are filled with a great sense of unease, strong feelings of urgency, and a significant amount of fear and doubt as we see our global societies beginning to crumble and fall apart at their seams amid unsustainable systems and paradigms beginning to face ever changing new realities.  Our governments, still married to their old and antiquated ideas, are desperately incapable of meeting these new challenges as our public discourses and conventional academic theories continue to fall painfully short.  And with the very future of our human civilization and our planet hanging in an unsteady balance we are feeling our collective clocks slowly ticking down expecting either some kind of a miracle or a catastrophic collapse of this civilization as we know it.

Many of our indigenous societies as well as several major world religions foretold this period long ago as the great end times, the period of transition between one reality, one consciousness, and another.  Their ancient prophesies and predictions are unlikely to occur in this reality specifically as written for nature, like everything else, has a tendency of shifting its course amid the forces of time, circumstance, and coincidence.  Yet the transitions of human consciousness they call for are so vitally needed in this world that it would be quite a fool’s errand to overlook their wisdom entirely and march blindly into the future based solely on the false paradigms of our present.

So what does it mean for all of us?  We can feel the storm clouds gathering slowly on our horizon but how do we prepare for the coming challenges?  What knowledge must we gain before we embark on our next journey?  What will it mean for our families, our friends, our societies, and the future of our children?  Will we pass the coming test and move beyond it into new and unimaginably awesome realms of human awareness, consciousness, and progress, or are we destined for failure amid challenges too great, divisions to strong, and hatreds too deep?  Will we finally find a way to end our wars or will our wars succeed in ending all of us?  And what role do each of us have to play in this whole mess of things we call human civilization?

I have little to offer here in terms of concrete answers.  I am no prophet and unfortunately have been given no special information or guidance from any alien or godlike higher being.  However, as a man who takes pride in investigating, examining, and challenging every aspect of our current human reality, our current consciousness, and a man who refuses to worry over the imminent possibility of being dead wrong, I find that I can still offer a few finer point of advice for my friends over the coming year and beyond.  These ideas have been developed through quite a bit of struggle, several long and sometimes lonely nights, and a lifetime of questioning and wandering this planet in search of greater possibilities.

The first piece of advice is simply to eliminate fear from every aspect of your lives.  Fear boxes us in.  It eliminates our options and cripples both our rational minds and our emotional hearts from fully experiencing our situations and our realities.  It makes us forget the fact that we are truly beings of infinite potential and spirits of consciousness capable of overcoming the very greatest of obstacles.  Despite this basic knowledge however, when faced with unknown and unforeseen circumstances, our greatest tendency always is to react through fear and doubt.  Yet if you can simply eliminate this fear, you can return to your ultimate source of infinite potential and infinite possibilities.

The second piece is simply to stop worrying about the finer details and learn to appreciate your everyday experiences as opportunities for further growth and development.  While it is far for scientifically provable at our current stage of human consciousness, I have a strong feeling that each one of us was placed on this planet at this most critical moment in time for a very powerful purpose of which only a few of us may ever find a way to fully understand in times when our ability to remember is greatly hindered by current circumstances and realities.  Yet if you take the time to reflect on yourself, appreciate your everyday opportunities for further growth and exploration, and take advantage of your random chance encounters with other good human beings, I have a strong feeling that you will find yourself in just the right spot at just the right time.  For there appears to be very few pure coincidences in this life.  Just be patient, explore the awesomeness that is your life, and enjoy the ride as much as you can.

The final piece is quite simple.  If you want to change the world, you need to remember how to love.  Every world religion speaks of strong unconditional love for fellow human beings as well as the planet, the cosmos, and every form of life everywhere in existence.   Yet many of us forget these teachings amid the busy struggles of our day to day lives and the fear and uncertainty tearing our world apart during these times.  We build walls of hatred and mistrust, arm ourselves and our nations to the teeth with every form of destructive weaponry imaginable, and divide our societies and our realities along our ever shifting tribal lines in search of some twisted illusion of security.  In these times, we must remember that consciousness creates reality and not the other way around.  And as beings of consciousness the reality we create is based solely off of the one we hold in our hearts.  So no matter how dark the days ahead may get, remember how to love and the light you need to move on will emanate from your soul.

As we march ahead into this great time of unknown futures and infinite possibilities, I hope that all of you will find the peace and wisdom you need to help change our world and our collective human reality.  You have all been blessed with the most interesting and critical of times and I wish only that you will find the best use for them and that we may continue to build a much greater future together in the years ahead.  I am working steadily on a lot of new and absolutely incredible possibilities in this time and many of the things I am beginning to see would absolutely blow your mind although I do not yet know how many of them I will be able to express in a public forum during the months and years ahead.  Suffice it to say that I feel our future is in very good and promising hands and in many ways, I feel we have already overcome the greatest of our obstacles.  Ours is now just a process of remembering exactly how we did it as time is quite a funny thing in this reality.

May peace be upon all of you in these times.  Our current new year coincides not simply with the end of a single planetary revolution around our sun, but with the end of a 26,000 year cycle in our cosmic calendar.  We are all truly blessed to witness this great turning of the clock and I look forward to many powerful adventures and experiences in the years ahead.  So stop being afraid, don’t sweat the small stuff, remember how to love, and realize that in the end we are all truly one.  Happy New Year.

“In La’kesh”—You are another me, and I am another you. (Mayan)

Cheers,

Brian

1 JAN 2013, 1915(L) Athens, Greece

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The Twilight of Empire…

When I was young, I fell deeply in love with the ideal of American exceptionalism.  Through bright and youthful eyes, I saw a sense of greater meaning and promise in our own Manifest Destiny.  I saw the great power of our ideals of democracy, freedom, and liberty, and dreamed at night of the great ways they would shape and transform our world in spreading the image of our perfect society to all corners of the globe.  From a young age I dreamt of being a part of that amazing process, of freeing the oppressed, of protecting the powerless, and of dedicating a life in service to that society which had given me so much and so many opportunities…

Today, I look at my world through these time strained and tired eyes which oftentimes deceive my still fresh and vigorous body as to its true age, and I see elements and perspectives of my reality standing in stark contradiction to the ideals of my youth.  I see a world that has not entirely been liberated by American exceptionalism and in many cases, bits of a world that have been outright enslaved by it.  I see the darker manifestation of American Empire, an empire which we still categorically deny yet one that has grown into a cold and blood-soaked reality for so much of our world…

And when I look at my American Empire, I see but a palace of cards, a city built upon a hill of sand.  Despite all of our advances in knowledge, technology, communication, and military strength we cannot long deny the dark and cold fate which awaits us at the end of this dream.  We cannot overcome the forces of our history leading all of our little human experimentations with empire decidedly towards the grave.  And we cannot long conceal the mass of skeletons and forgotten souls which lay restlessly entombed under our increasingly unstable foundation…

Though we have many choices in this life, the one thing none of us can change is the point in time to which we were born and ultimately the times in which we live.  As a youth, I was a product of the height of American Empire, the pinnacle of its greatest achievements, and the moment in time which many of us believed would last forever.  And now as an adult, I am both a witness and player in the dramas of our great empire’s overreach and ultimate fall.  I didn’t choose to live in these times any more than my parents chose to live in theirs.  We are all simply dealt a hand in this game of life.  It’s what we do with it and what we learn and understand along the way that makes all the difference…

So what course will this narrative take?  How will the final cards of American Empire fall and the final hands play out?  Is there any stopping the trends of history?  Is there any opportunity to salvage the forgotten and broken dreams of our youth and turn them into a new manifestation of our reality?  Or are we all just casual observers to the great Shakespearian tragedy of our times?

Unfortunately, I appear to still be quite a bad fortuneteller.  I simply don’t know what new realities time, circumstance, and coincidence have in store for us in this life.  Yet I can decidedly say that we are approaching the twilight of this empire. Our palace is shaking unsteadily from the burden of its years and as the cards are slowly being pulled to weaken its structural integrity I can only say that we are in for very interesting times…

You can play causality games with this all night and never find yourself getting anywhere.  You can blame our coming economic crisis, our wars of aggression and hubris in foreign lands, our increasingly paranoid security state, the hollowness that has overcome our democracy in these days of one dollar, one vote, or the failure of our society and our people to adequately stand as the guardians of their own liberty.  But in the end, you will still be left with the same puzzling and troubling realities as you try to make sense of the events unfolding in front of your eyes…

Though of course there is another method to walk this path.  Just because we are burdened with the weight of our history does not mean we cannot affect its course if not its direction.  This empire will one day fall.  There is no escaping that end.   But the nature, the timeline, and the scope of that fall are things each of us can affect in our own ways, and I would say that it is about time we started paying a bit more attention.  Through the fall of an empire, the end of one dream, we see the unique opportunity to start something new, to imagine new realities, and to build a much better world for the next generations…

There is no panacea for this task.  There is no secret key to unlock all of our doors and one is wise to be wary of any that appear along the way.  As in my youth I believed that globalization would save us all from war, and now I see it bringing us dangerously closer to some of the most horrible realities I can imagine.  Ultimately, the work of tearing down and rebuilding this society will not be easy.  The days and nights will quickly turn into years and decades.  Many parts of the job will be quite messy.  And the fruits of our toils will often go unseen, even perhaps when the work is finally done.  But this journey is truly an amazing one and these times are quite interesting indeed.  Few generations in human history have had the opportunity such as ours to completely change and remake their world.  And I am truly honored to share this opportunity, and this moment in time with all of you.  Though we have reached the twilight of the American Empire, it need not be the twilight of human civilization…

Cheers,

Brian

23 SEP 2012, 2130(L), Grafenwoehr, Germany

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Back in Time…

It has been said that to truly understand the future (or the present for that matter) you have to start by looking back in time.  Although complex causality is far from a linear, straightforward process it still lends itself to the factors of time, circumstance, and coincidence as each plays an important, albeit not necessarily decisive, role in its ultimate course.  Unfortunately for us however, it appears that our collective memory, our collective history, our collective discourse, and our collective narrative seldom reach beyond the events which occurred eleven years ago from this day in our time.  As much as we may like to profess that we are smarter, more civilized, and more evolved than our primitive human tendencies, we still have the instinct of creating intellectual milestones, points of reference in time where one history, one era ceases and another logically begins.  We reinforce these illusory turning points in our education systems, our media, and our politics and as we continue to profess that moments in time such as the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the terrorist attacks of 9/11 hold distinct and tangible significance within our narrative marking time not as a continuous story but a series of separate and distinct events.  Yet, far from being the clear-cut turning points in history, under any type of closer examination these events appear to be much closer to simple footnotes within our extensive human evolution more useful for separating lessons in an introductory history course than truly understanding the patterns and processes of our human journey…

The events of September 11th, 2001 while horrible in their public display of violence and their wanton disregard for innocent human life were in fact incredibly insignificant under the long lens of human events.  And while they marked a critical political, ideological, and social change in American history and paved the way for a renewed terrorism discourse, several major wars, and a steady expansion of the modern national security state, one must always remember that political justifications and public emotional responses to world events do not directly imply the presence of complex causality and its lines of influence.  To truly gain a picture of events on that day within the context of everything else we must search deeper into our emerging realities, more deeply question the functionality of our discourse, and open up new narratives to further investigation…

To understand 9/11, and to understand the Global War on Terror, you have to go further back in time.  You have to examine the realities and the truths which have formed and shaped our manifestation of the American Empire.  You have to drag a few skeletons out of the closet and uncover a few more mass graves than you may be comfortable witnessing again.  You have to look at the positive gains to your own way of life, your own future, and that of your children and measure them up against the many pains you and your fellow human beings have suffered along the way.  You have to ask the difficult questions even though the answers you find may leave you even more confused and with a bit of difficulty falling asleep at night.  And through it all you must overcome your personal human fears and human insecurities to seek more uncomfortable versions of the truth you know exist even when few of your peers understand the purpose of your intellectual journey…

The one simple truth which I have discovered along this difficult and exhausting intellectual experiment has been that the United States of America and the empire it has built yet still publicly denies has always needed an enemy.  Enemies give a sense of purpose, a national identity, and a moral justification for some of the dirty, but necessary, undertakings of empire.  For most of our history of empire, that enemy was readily apparent through product of war, paradigmatic competition, and good circumstance.  And yet for a brief period of time, our empire struggled and stumbled without such an enemy.  While our economy boomed, albeit under another bubble brought on by fortunate technological advances amid the context of a healthy peace dividend, our identity suffered and we failed to deeply see a strong, productive, and publicly acceptable role for ourselves in the world.  Many intellectuals labeled this time as the “end of history” as many others spoke of a looming and potentially catastrophic “clash of civilizations”.  Some of us thought the market and our newly historically justified model of privatization and unregulated global capitalism could save us all, while others saw it as the very means of our collective destruction.  And then, on one fateful Tuesday morning the ghosts of our past, the product of the dark side of empire we had hoped to keep a hidden secret emerged and gave us the very enemy, the very purpose, we had sought for nearly a decade but never publically acknowledged.  In a pile of rubble and pool of blood they renewed our collective justification for the dark arts of empire.  And we ate the narrative up like a fat kid going through a box of donuts…what followed was simply a product of history, discourse, and policy…

So where do we go from here?  Eleven years later, with the painful hangovers of that day clearly in our past and our empire noticeably in decline how do we salvage the products of our history and turn them into new and better realities for the future of our children?  How do we overcome our natural attachment to milestones in our view of history and begin to examine anew the issues and factors of complex causality which led us to where we are and are now taking us into the future whether we are ready for it or not?

The simple answer coming from a humble professional soldier, amateur intellectual, and simple human being is that I just don’t know.  In fact, I have absolutely no fucking idea.  If all you are looking for are concrete answers and guidance, I recommend consulting a professional clergyman, politician, or economist as a soldier whose life is so decidedly tied to complex world events and the dark side of empire can offer neither much hope nor comfort.  Yet through this crooked and broken intellectual journey, through my research and my reading, my thoughts, and my ideas, and through the middle path which I have struggled to follow every day in my heart, I may at least be able to offer you a general direction of thought…

Ultimately, if you wish to understand any concept, any reality, you must begin by examining its opposite.  The American Empire has needed an opposite throughout its entire existence.  Without a hero, there is no villain.  And without a villain, there is never the need for a hero as he becomes but an inconvenient, frightening burden on the very society he seeks to protect from itself.  The American Empire is falling, and there is no disputing that fact when considering the evidence available.  Although the fall of empires has historically been a very messy affair, through the gradual fall of this empire and its paradigm, we can also see infinite opportunities for the dreaming and building of a new reality.  But before you set off on the course of creating new realities and paradigms, you must learn to settle your scores with old enemies and build connections and friendships which transcend your former antagonisms.  Destroy the concept of the enemy, the other, the villain, and you eliminate the narrative of aggressive empire creation which built it and created your false hero.  Reach that point and your slate may be clear…do with it was you wish, but tread carefully as many demons of histories past are counting on your failure…

So in the end, here’s to the continuation of our great human history, our great human experience.  Look forward to the future, but remember to consult the past as your guide.  And remember that old mistakes need not be repeated a second time around.  Mind your narrative and feedback loops, question everything, share your ideas, and learn to master the transition.  Eleven years feels like long ago, but the span of history reaches much further…and we surely have much longer to go in this game…

Cheers,

Brian

11 SEP 2012, 1240(L), Grafenwoehr, Germany

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Heroes

Our society has a habit of using the term “hero” quite loosely in our modern discourse.  We tend to qualify all types of men and women from soldiers serving in foreign wars, to politicians and world leaders, to economists, academics, and scientists, to journalists, media personalities, celebrities, and athletes, to political activists and  as displaying the necessary human qualities we find somewhat admirable as our heroes.  We look for characteristics such as personal courage, perseverance in the face of adversity, eloquence of diction or mastery of the written word, individual charisma, and a strong list of competitive accomplishments and allow our imaginations to build a picture of the entire human being around them.  And then we sit back and wait for these heroes to show us the way forward, to lead us into the unknown and beyond, and to solve all the problems of our world with their inherently gifted natural superiority of skill…

When times are difficult, complex, and intellectually confusing we have a tendency to put even more of our blind faith in these self-created heroes.  We throw our time and energy behind one politician or another believing that they alone possess the skill and talent to work within and fix our painfully broken and outdated systems.  We attach false levels of expertise to our media personalities and commentators believing that they can see our world so much clearer than ourselves.  We place the trust of our future in the hands of any man or woman who can make us feel, if even for but a few fleeting moments, that everything is going to be alright.  And when even this method fails us, some of us simply  place our blind faith in our religious idols and gods in the hope that if this life may not grant us true peace and satisfaction perhaps the next can be better, or even that our gods will soon return to rescue their believers and fix all of humanities problems in one fell swoop…

In the end though, I am sad to say that no true heroes are coming, and the ones we create in our minds will only fall painfully short of our expectations.  There is no political savior waiting in the shadows to fix our corrupt and incompetent world governments.  There is not economist brilliant enough to take the present depression and turn in around based on the current system of order.  There is no intellectual with all the ideas and all the answers we need to plot the course ahead.  And there is no leader capable of bearing the weight of seven billion human souls on his back and carrying them into their promised future.  The heroes we create are simply men and men alone.  They are a collection of matter, molecules, and energy forged into the form of a human being no different from all of their fellow brothers and sisters.  They are nothing special.  They are nothing spectacular.  They are only human…

So if you are still looking for heroes, you ultimately need go no further than the closest mirror.  When you get there, take a long hard look at yourself and the human perfection that has become your body, mind, and heart.  Take the time, read a few books, learn to think more critically about every piece of information you receive, write down and discuss your ideas, examine your dreams and your realities, and figure out what you can do to save the world.  Stop waiting for someone else to show you the course.  Start walking it yourself.  Just remember the three most important rules: always check your sources; mind your feedback loops; and hold on to your patience and your humility, they are sometimes the only things that will keep you going.

Though we are quick to point out and cling to the heroic qualities we see in others, we seldom notice those same attributes within ourselves.  We downplay our talents, our insights, and our own capabilities.  And we find it easier to simply wait for someone else to do the dirty work of rebuilding our broken society.  In a time when our society is in such need of heroes and leaders, I just wish a few more people would take the time to look in the mirror.  Here’s to the journey ahead, my friends…stop trying to believe in others and start believing in yourselves.  I have no idea where we are going, but I’m sure we’ll eventually get there together…

Cheers,

Brian

24 AUG 12, 1810 (L) Grafenwoehr, Germany

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The Scope of Our Potential…

I’ve been thinking a lot about or concept of “the impossible” lately.  In this line of work and at this still quite young stage of my intellectual development I guess it comes quite naturally to question my own boundaries and realities as well as those of my community, civilization, and species.  As human beings, and especially as people heavily involved in government and military work, we tend to operate along the guidelines of bounded rationality.   We set clear intellectual limits in our option and our possibilities based on our experiences and the norms instilled on us by our society and professions.  We deal with the realm of the possible, of the probable, without devoting much of our scarce social and intellectual resources to ideas and concepts that don’t seem to fit within the bounds of our personal and collective experiences.   While we have no shortage of powerful minds and great thinkers, we have a habit of locking them inside our box and dismissing the ideas that venture too far outside of its walls.  While there are some who will be quick to utter the phrase “impossible is nothing” there are very few who will actually devote their time and energy toward producing an intellectual roadmap for achieving it…

How do you end the endless war???  Easy, you do the impossible.  You read, you write, you discuss your thoughts and ideas.  You dare to dream the impossible dream and operationalize a path to making it a reality.  You take your time, develop a counter-narrative, check your sources, and build your contacts.  And when the moment is right, you stand behind your ideas, place your head on the chopping block, and dare the one with no blood on his hands to strike the final blow…For you have given up on fear long ago, and you’ve seen enough to dispel and remnants of belief that human beings have already reached the pinnacle of civilization.  That there is no way we can do much better in this life and on this planet…

At this time in the experience of human civilization, it is utterly amazing that we still confine our thoughts to tightly bounded concepts of reality.  It’s already been proven that human beings only use a tiny fraction of their available brainpower.  Our understanding of physics is completely laughable when you consider what we have yet to discover about things such as the universe, the nature of energy at the subatomic and electromagnetic levels, and even our concepts of time and space themselves.  Out of seven billion people, we have but a handful of minds tackling these problems due to our scarcity of finances, education, resources, and opportunity, and yet we continue to think that we have mastered just about every possible reality in existence.  We cling to ancient “beliefs” about religion because they grant us some measure of comfort and take books written thousands of years ago as absolute science and historic fact without investigating the very real, and sometimes a bit scary, nature of metaphysics which could eventually lead us to very real revelations about the true nature of life in our universe.  It’s been said that insanity is the act of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  But I would suggest that it also involves the act of believing the same thing despite massive amounts of evidence against it.  And it is for that I feel the scariest two words in the English language just might be the ones “I Believe”.  No evidence, no critical thought or investigation, just blind and binding belief that things exist in a certain order strictly out of intellectual convenience…

Imagine if you will a world without false beliefs, without strictly bounded rationality and discourse.  Imagine a world where the unlimited potential of every human being is cultivated and tapped to provide for the development and cultivation of the species.  Imagine a world without war, without poverty, without scarcity of the necessities of life as the problems have undoubtedly cost our species countless potential Einsteins, Galileos, and Da Vincis.  Take the time you use up every day simply keeping yourself alive working a job you don’t really care about to earn money to feed, cloth, and shelter yourself and your family.  Multiply that time by seven billion and imagine the man hours which could be available for something much bigger.  Apply some type of exponential growth function to your equation, perhaps a Moore’s law for human capacity or something and extrapolate only a few generations into the future…Now what is really preventing your great-grandchildren from traveling to the stars???  What is really preventing this tiny civilization on Planet Earth from growing intergalacticly???

Before man achieves his true potential, he must overcome his inner demons and defeat his bounded rationality.  Before war destroys man, man must destroy war.  Before man destroys war, he must imagine the impossible…We have to end the endless war.  We have to dream the impossible dream.  We must overcome our present realities and outdated operating systems.  We must question the unquestionable and use it to help us achieve the unachievable.  And we must start doing it before our clock runs out.  They say impossible is nothing…then let’s start discussing the new possible…

Cheers,

Brian

19 AUG 2012, 2000(L) Grafenwoehr, Germany

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New Directions…

I started this blog over a year ago as I was leaving for my first combat deployment.  It was the product of a bit of advice from a friend, an overactive mind that needed some type of creative outlet, and in some way a desire to seal up a collection of random snapshots of my thoughts in the hope that they might actually amount to something a bit later on.  In the beginning I used it to record some of my personal experiences combined with a small collection of random ideas which fit into whatever frame of mind I was using to make sense of them at the time.  Early on in the deployment however I realized that my experiences and ability to actually “see” the realities on the ground in Afghanistan would be decidedly limited by institutional factors beyond my control, and thus the project quickly morphed into much more of a personal diary of my ideas and research which I was able to conduct extensively (for better or worse) given the reality of having too much time on my hands and not enough recreation outlets with which to use it.  Looking back on a few of my writings I realize that while I was certainly on to something in at least a few of the them, in the end my creativity and ability were limited by my own conflicting realities, my lack of true intellectual freedom, a good bit of personal fear, and more than a little simple mental exhaustion.  Still, they stand as snapshots of my mind in time and I hope that at least a few people other than myself were able to gain at least a picture of what was going on in my head from reading them…

In the two months since I’ve left Afghanistan I’ve had the opportunity to slowly get my life back together, travel around Europe, meet a lot of new friends and reconnect with some old ones, and slowly take the time to process my thoughts and come up with a few new ideas for where and how I need to spend the remaining years of my life.  At this time, I am back in Germany for an indefinite amount of time working a tedious but not very intellectually stimulating job with my unit.  My packet for Civil Affairs has been processed and accepted and I am just in a holding pattern waiting to take the next steps along that road in the (hopefully) near future.  I have completed the final course of my Master’s program and now only have to finish my thesis and take my exams before earning my first official post-graduate degree.  I have also taken on a few intellectual side projects which I am not fully secure enough to discuss in detail here.  Overall however, I have to say that my life is finally starting to take shape and I appreciate the small freedoms associated with living in my own apartment, traveling more or less as I wish, and spending quality time with close friends all over the world…I deeply wish I could say the same positive things about the current state of our civilization…

Over these last few years it appears time, circumstance, and coincidence just have not been good for our world.  Despite our ending of combat operations in Iraq and our drawdown in Afghanistan we are stuck in the narrative of endless global conflict with renewed violence in places like Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, the Horn of Africa, the Trans-Sahel, and Central Africa to name only a few.  Our security forces have grown stronger, able to easily crush the random popular revolution or intellectual/social movement while our economies have grown weaker, struggling from the stain of the end of another monetary-economic-debt cycle and are now completely incapable of providing for the basic needs, hopes, and dreams of most of the world’s population.  We are slowly killing our planet and our civilization one poor, selfish, and short-sighted decision at a time.  And as much as I sometimes try to look at the bright side, I too often find hope a distant and fleeting dream in these incredibly tough times…

As for my country, my heart truly bleeds for it every day and the more I think about our current circumstances the more I usually end up drinking away the utter sadness and praying to a God I no longer believe in for brighter days ahead…if not for me, then at least for my children…We are literally ripping ourselves apart at the seams, stuck in the narrative of marshal superiority and arming ourselves to the teeth while drawing the battle lines for both the fight in front of us and the much bigger one a bit farther down the road as we approach the fall of this Empire.  Once the true beacon of freedom and opportunity for the world we have fallen into a nation of simple-minded, drug-induced stupor fed by our television sets and the mainstream, inside-the-corporate-box consumerism they spew out, our vast selection of pharmaceutical drugs and quick-fix chemical solution to all of life’s complex problems, and some kind of egotistical sense of our continued superiority in a world trying to move beyond our outdated hegemonic dreams.  Watching my country in these times is a bit like watching a depressed alcoholic inching closer and closer to the edge searching for solutions at the bottom of ever bottle and finding absolutely none capable of quenching his thirst.  And following our current Presidential elections makes me feel more like I am watching a massive train wreck in slow motion as each conductor  makes false promises of salvation drawing his own almost religiously vigorous followers as the train slips slowly off the tracks and nobody even thinks about applying the brakes.  I can’t tell you how many times this summer I have been personally embarrassed to call myself an American (and an American military officer at that) but in the end, my choice is either to ignore and leave the situation and my country forever or to take ownership of it and work to change it.  Ultimately, I must choose to own it…that is if I ever wish to be able to actually live with myself later down the road of life…

Still, the levels of cognitive dissonance inherent in my mind and in my situation are just incredible.  It is the main reason why I must remind myself not to use too many mind-altering drugs in the presence of friends.  And though I fear I can feel it drawing me closer and closer to my own insanity in the end I must find the strength to master my own mental demons if I hope to ever be able to help my country master its own.  The only thing that seems to keep me going through some of these most tiring and mentally draining of times and the only thing that still gives me the necessary bit of mental clarity I need to continue my work has been BASE jumping.  Sometimes it feels like the only peace I am able to truly find these days comes either at exit points or over a few beers with close friends after a jump and I am deeply thankful for all of my experiences and the amazing, positive, and open-minded people I have been able to share them with.  The people in this sport are some of the closest and truest friends I will ever have and even though too many of us are only on this planet for a short period of time the positive energy and sense of adventure we share can truly give us all hope even in the darkest and most desperate of our days.  To all my friends, I just can’t say thank you enough for the sanity you have given me…Lets just plan to share a couple beers and a few nice exit points as soon as possible.  I’ll take you to mine if you take me to yours 😉

In the end though, there is no moving forward without a sense of hope, and it is that which I will never completely part with until the moment I breathe my last.  We have so much human potential living on this planet right now and if we can only learn to harness it and change our operating system there are no limits to the possibilities we can leave our children.  The great transitions of these decidedly interesting times will surely be trying on our bodies, our minds, our hearts, and our souls.  But if we can find the will and the means within ourselves to understand and overcome them, then we can truly build the world of our dreams.  I cannot say whether or not I will still be on this Earth to watch and help my people through the end of these transitions, but at the very least I will leave a decent road map and a heavy ruck to be taken over by whoever comes next.  Here’s to the new directions for humanity, my friends.  The future is ours to create.

Cheers,

Brian

15 AUG 12, 2130 (L), Grafenwoehr, Germany

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Breaking the Echo Chamber…

In his masterpiece, Nineteen Eight-Four, the writer George Orwell stated, “He who controls the past controls the future.  He who controls the present controls the past.”  Though his work revolves predominately around the nature and structure of totalitarian society I don’t believe that Mr. Orwell was necessarily writing solely about control in the sense of openly oppressive and all powerful regimes incorporating all facets of society under the final authority of a single government or party.  Such a system is appears to be the final stage, the final manifestation of a process which has its roots long before and if we have learned anything from our history it is that such methods are inherently dangerous and difficult to maintain.  Instead I believe the crux of Orwell’s statement revolves around the false sense of freedom perceived by his citizens as the true nature of their enslavement.  And in this light it appears Mr. Orwell was in fact warning of something much deeper, more difficult to counter or even perceive in a “free” society, and infinitely more dangerous:  the control of the discourse and the gradual erosion of free thought which accompanies it.

At this point, we cannot say for certain whether this form of enslavement truly exists within our society, yet it is something we can subconsciously feel in the back of our minds and in our hearts every time we turn on the television, read a newspaper or periodical, surf the Internet, or simply try to hold a real conversation with one of our less enlightened peers.  The echo chamber is all around us.  It dominates our senses, alters our thoughts and ideas, speaks to our emotions, and hopes to satisfy us with just enough knowledge to be contented but not enough to become dangerous.  In this world of revolving doors, a military-industrial complex, multi-billion dollar lobbying, corporate-controlled mass media, and an academia dominated by economic incentives over social good and the pursuit of knowledge, our discourse is clearly dominated by our established structures, false incentives, and society’s elite.  These individuals are a small and non-representative portion of society who hold strong political, academic, and financial pedigrees and believe that they alone possess the knowledge and wisdom necessary to lead humanity into the future.  They use buzzwords to satisfy our intellectual appetites like homeland security, terrorism, economic stimulus, fiscal austerity, liberal democracy, neoliberal economics, neoconservative (or “compassionate conservative”) politics, national interest, freedom, fascism, and communism while hoping we will not grow smart or motivated enough to fully investigate their true meaning.  And through their efforts they have moved our collective discourse into a decidedly narrow and confined segment of human thought.

So what is there for us to do?  How do we regain control of our collective thoughts and bring our society back to a level of real, constructive intellectual and operational discourse?  How do we break the echo chamber that has confined our collective minds?  While the process is easier discussed than accomplished, I do feel that we are finally starting to move in the right direction.  Thanks to the gift of technology we have more access to information than ever before and many of us are finally willing to go through the intellectual pains of obeying rule number 1: always check your sources.  We have real intellectual and ideological movements springing up such as Occupy, the Zeitgeist Movement, 9/11 Truth, the Venus Project, and various other real and imagined human communities which are finally beginning to ask the tough questions to those in power.  And we have more and more people waking up to the cold reality that our current civilization is drifting farther away from a sustainable and equitable course.  In that spirit, I propose these humble idea as a potential outline for further courses of action comprised of four distinct steps and two intangibles which I feel may or may not help to guide us a bit as we regain control of our society’s discourse and move on towards the next evolution in the human species.  As always, I am likely to be very wrong with these ideas and therefore will leave it up to others to critique my work and develop a better, more operational and comprehensive outline in time.  In the end, we are all in this together and it is only our collective toil and responsibility that can lead us properly into the future.

Before evolutionary action, we must have evolutionary ideas.  And while our discourse may appear revolutionary to some in our society, particularly those in power and with the most invested in the current order, I feel that reaction is solely a product a product of an echo chamber grown arrogantly and destructively out of balance. Evolution is the continuation of achievement and discovery moving the species forward into new levels of existence and reality through the passage of time.  Revolution is the violent breaking down of old orders creating chaos and uncertainty in the place of progress.  In this time, we must focus on making the former our priority.

Build Community…

Before you begin a discourse, you need others with whom to discuss your ideas.  Thanks to the wonders of technology, they need not be your geographical neighbors although it tends to get very rough and lonely trying to change the world by staring at a computer without real human interaction.  Regardless of the tools however, connections must be made, ideas exchanged, and meetings organized.  Luckily at this time, we appear to be well on our way to establishing the beginnings of a truly global and transformational intellectual community.  Resistance movements have sprung up all over our society and have begun questioning the very nature of our economic and political state of affairs such the corporate control of government and media, the principles of monetary economics, and the utility of military force and contemporary perceptions of security.  And through the continued discussion and developing intellectual counter-establishment we are finally seeing more and more people from all walks of life waking up to the simple truths that something just isn’t right with our society anymore.  If we want to get started on figuring out what that something is, we must continue to come together and keep talking.  And through that process, great care must be taken to focus not simply on community as a means of intellectual resistance to but at a means of intellectual inclusiveness where all ideas and outlooks are accepted and equally challenged.  It’s easy to build a community of resistors, but what we will need is a community of intellectual connectors.

Enhance Access…

Once a community is established, the next step is to slowly bring it into the mainstream where it can attract greater recognition.  This does not mean simply aligning with one established political party or another even if that includes a third party or alternative candidate.  In order to be successful, the discourse must remain separate and distinct yet complimentary to politics gaining strength from ideas rather than political ideologies or figureheads.  Instead of devolving into politics, the community must focus on access both in terms of sources of information (leading to facts and understanding) and a means of broadcasting its ideas, concepts, and discussions for further societal review.  Direct access to mainstream media, think tanks, and academic establishments is likely to be shaky at best simply because these organizations are burdened by the inertia of the current discourse and the false incentives of the long-established and narrow confines created by their own echo chambers.  Therefore, I believe the focus should be on finding key individuals and gaining access to their ideas and personal networks.  Every conventional establishment possesses its share of free and forward thinking minds willing to actively question conventional wisdom and it is these professionals who should be actively sought out and welcomed into the greater community whenever possible.  Not enough can be said for the power of personal and intellectual relationships across institutional divides and this networking between influential individuals will eventually grant greater access to more mainstream circles of thought and media sources.  The Occupy movement has been already been instrumental in bringing some of these new concepts to the forefront of conventional discourse even if only for brief moments at a time and more effort should clearly be spent in bringing more diverse groups of people into the discussion while along the way always striving for the maximum diversity of ideas and experiences.  There is no sense in breaking an echo chamber only to build another one in its place.

Develop a Counter-Narrative…

As more and more minds enter into the discourse, effort should be directed towards finding actual solutions to the problems presented by the current situation.  You cannot break an echo chamber without having ideas to counter it.  And a system cannot safely be brought down until a viable and operational alternative comes into existence.  Thus, a counter-narrative based on a positivist outlook and focusing on solutions rather than problems is absolutely essential.  This will likely not be a clean affair due to the great diversity of minds and ideas at play but until differences can be resolved and key ideologies and concepts expressed the movement will remain disjointed and ineffectual.  While some core concepts will have to be firm and unshakeable, the counter-narrative must also allow for maximum cooperation with established powers and flexibility in its operational strategies.  Again, I recommend refraining from engagement in party politics as these are likely to only corrupt and polarize the movement although systemic political transformation will be an essential part of the counter-narrative discourse.  Politics will one day have its place, but it will not be until better systems and ideas are well established that political activity can be put to good effect.  And all must beware of political saviors arriving on white horses with great promises.

Master the Transition…

Change is an inescapable aspect of mankind’s reality on this planet.  And as we continue along the present course I can only expect to see great systemic changes both planned and unplanned occurring in our societies.  Our current elite discourse tends to characterize these changes as the “New World Order” but I’m afraid if we continue the course amid our current echo chamber that our reality is likely to exhibit quite a bit more chaos than order.  Regardless, we must find ways of adapting as our times and realities change.  We must find leaders within our communities who can offer guidance and coherence during difficult times.  And we must establish methods and concepts for turning our dreams into reality amid the constant friction of real-world change.  Nobody can say what surprises time, circumstance, and coincidence or complex causality have in store for us in the coming years and thus we must maintain the flexibility necessary to not just adapt, but to thrive amid very different sets of circumstances.  In the end though, the transition stages are likely to be among the most dynamic and exciting of times for human beings on this planet and I can only describe it as a great honor and privilege to be alive at this time and capable of contributing to the greatest transition in human history.  Despite all the challenges and adversity before us, the transition times are where we will all prove our worth and finally earn the future our children deserve.  We just have to master them.

Time…

To put it quite simply, this will be a very long process.  I fully expect this to be a generational struggle and understand that I may never truly see the end of our human transition during my brief stay on this planet.  Patience is absolutely critical although a select and relatively small set of circumstances will require decisive and immediate action.  And we must remember above all else that we are seeking evolutionary and not revolutionary changes.  Even though future historians will likely label our work as a revolution in human affairs our goal is to bring out the changes as smoothly and peacefully as possible.  Along the way there will surely be calls for more violent and direct revolutionary actions possibly even from key members of our own communities but these temptations must be resisted to the fullest extent possible.  Violence and rapid change generally only create opportunities for the less ethical among us to seize power and control for selfish purposes and it must be clear from the beginning that such is not the course we seek.  In order for transformation to be complete it must be a long process.  Our current challenges are far too complex to succumb to any other course or temptation.

Focus on Scientific Reality…

We live on a finite planet with a finite set of resources.  For years however we have thrived and existed on a process and discourse based mostly on the competing concepts of universal scarcity (value) and infinite growth.  Yet as we continue to destroy and degrade many of our natural resources and fragile ecosystems we are coming close to the physical limits of planetary growth at the same time that we are finding so many of our fellow humans living impoverish and destitute lives as a simple byproduct of our systems of scarcity.   From this perspective, it is quite clear that this course cannot be continued indefinitely…at least as long as there are over 7 billion people on our planet.  Therefore our entire process of discourse and discovery must be grounded on the scientific method and based upon the physical limits and human capability and discovery amid a complex and dynamic environment.  An approach to understanding based upon the scientific method will also require us to maintain a critical eye towards our ideas and concepts forcing the humility of admitting our own failures and mistakes into our discourse.  As our scientific and technological community continues to expand and adapt, I firmly believe that we will find solutions for many of our complex human problems, but we must remain vigilant and approach any answers we find with a critical eye for poor assumptions can have disastrous results especially if we allow the false incentive of profit to continue trumping the incentive of human discovery.

The process of breaking the echo chamber is not going to be easy or simple by any means.  It will likely require a collective intellectual and social effort on a scale without much parallel in human history.  The days will be long.  The nights will be longer.  And at times we will wake up and just wonder where all the years of our lives have gone.  But the path to the next human evolution is ours to take and the future is ours to create.  But first we must be able to dream it up, discuss it, and figure out how to make it work.  I’ll see you along the journey.

Cheers,

Brian

2 JUN 2012, 1315(L), Sharana, Paktika, Afghanistan

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Bin Laden’s Legacy…

It was only a year ago when Mr. Obama announced what has perhaps become the greatest victory of his tumultuous and controversial presidency.  In the dark of night a small group of our nation’s finest warriors descended into a compound in the middle of Pakistan and took the life of the most infamous terrorist the world has ever known.  After killing the man in near cold blood the body was identified and unceremoniously dropped at sea, leaving the rest of the world to constantly question both the authenticity of the official account and the deeper meaning of the man who somehow, someway managed to change the course of human history.  Time however, while it offers ample opportunity for reflection and further examination of evidence, does not always yield to deeper understanding.  And a full year later we are still left to question the significance of this man and his war which has shaped the course of each of our lives for the last decade of our existence…

What do we truly know of the man anyway?  How did an obscure classically trained civil engineer and descendant of the greatest developer in the history of the Saudi Kingdom rise to such prominence?  How did his readings of Wahhabi Islam, his discourses with his many mentors, and his experiences at the flashpoints of America’s global jihad against the Soviet Empire shape the course of his life?  To what extent did he become an agent of the Saudi Kingdom, the Sudanese regime, the Pakistani intelligence services, the Afghan mujahedeen and Taliban, and the global superpower as he we worked pragmatically for whoever would pay the bills and provide sanctuary while he cultivated his ideas of global jihad?  At what point did his Al Qaeda, the organization, the idea, the brand truly come into existence (reports are still inconclusive and change depending on who you ask)?  How did his vision of global, regional, and local jihad evolve and change over time?  And when did he truly meet his end?  Was it shortly after 9/11 at the hands of American bombs or kidney failure?  Was it sometime afterward?  Was he truly the man who died in that shadowy raid a year ago deep in Pakistan?  Is he still living somewhere, someplace trying to make sense of the world that has been irrevocably changed in his name?  Or did the man never even truly exist in flesh and blood at all?  The truth is surely out there somewhere, but unlike most of my contemporaries I will offer only questions, no conclusions.  For in a world full of secretive and deeply compartmentalized security and intelligence services, I’m not really sure anybody has all the answers.  Just remember rule number 1:  Always check your sources…and never believe anything a government, mainstream or alternative media source, established expert, conspiracy theorist, or random internet blogger has to say…

Surely though just like any one of us,  Bin Laden’s life was a product of a causality which goes far beyond his alleged bankrolling and masterminding of the attacks of 9/11 and the creation of his global brand and organization.  And while his tapes and public writings shed a sliver of light onto the man it is worth reminding ourselves that each piece of evidence must be examined with utmost scrutiny in this world of competing powerful agendas, security states, and universal technological capabilities.  Upon deeper investigation (which I honestly have not had the opportunity to do enough of) while some of his tapes appear to be decidedly conclusive there are others that cast only deeper shadows onto the man so many of us know but so few of us understand.  Did Mr. Bin Laden really mastermind 9/11 along with Khalid Sheik Mohammad?  Did he really believe he could defeat the far enemy without bringing the imminent destruction of his organization and ideals?  Did he take pleasure in watching that enemy trip and stumble along its course for final revenge as it launched two wars, killed hundreds of thousands of people, catapulted his brand onto the global stage, and established an inflated security state based on anything but the ideals of freedom it professed to be spreading to the world?  The deeper you question the man, the less you realize you truly know.  Yet it is only through critical questioning that you can develop understanding.  And only through understanding can you begin to comprehend the causality of the last ten years of our lives.  Yet amid all the madness and unanswered questions surrounding of Mr. Bin Laden’s life, a key appears to be the understanding of his idea.  For ultimately if you can destroy the idea the truth about man, now apparently dead, doesn’t even matter anymore…

But what do we know of this idea?  Much more powerful than men of flesh and blood our ideas are capable of long out living, outstretching, and out reaching us.  Ideas are originally the product of those who create them but become reality in those who examine, interpret, and cultivate them.  While they live and evolve just men they are not bound by the narrow concepts of mortality and geography thus making them exponentially more difficult to destroy.  Yet why did Bin Laden’s idea of jihad resonate with so many people?  Why did so many resource-strapped freedom fighters and resistance movements adopt his message just as they once did with the one of global communism during our parents’ time?  How did Al Qaeda become a global brand, a global network, answering to the hopes and aspirations of so many diverse groups of people?  How did the idea penetrate the minds of so many from the cities and towns of the Western world, to the deserts of the Trans-Sahel/Sahara, to the lawlessness of the Horn of Africa and southern Arabian Peninsula, to the war torn banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, and to the mountains of the Af-Pak frontier?  And why did so many diverse, idealistic, somewhat lost, and oftentimes deeply educated and intellectual individuals take up Bin Laden’s call to arms?

Of course a key to understanding any idea is a critical examination of its opposite and it is this reflection of Bin Laden’s war in Western societies that is perhaps its deepest and darkest legacy.  In the years since his initial attack on American soil we have seen our society grow far less free.  We have seen a strong and technologically capable security bubble penetrate our governmental and corporate cultures.  With the prospect of this endless war we have seen our vital economic security come more and more into question.  And through this manifesting security infrastructure the very terrorists our society captures appear to the critical eye as more the victims of various anti-social disorders than the products of diehard extremist ideology bent on creating maximum death and destruction…

It is quite troubling and disconcerting for me as a man who will have a large role in the future of America’s wars to truly and honestly examine this duality.  But it is that course, as a man who simply wishes to leave a better and more peaceful world for his future children which I must pursue.  Although I must admit that the further I seem to get down this rabbit hole the scarier my thoughts become and the more daunting the task of unraveling the causality behind America’s expanding security state appears to be.  In a nation where over 800,000 citizens hold Top Secret and compartmentalized security clearances, many of whom work in the private sector, finding bits of truth alone is certainly hard enough.  Determining causality and understanding appears to be nearly humanly impossible.  And then these emerging realities must be operationalized in order to create real and lasting systemic change…

Yet ultimately, the deeper I get into this process the greater purpose I can see for myself and my nation’s future military and civilian leaders.  If we ever want to see a world of peace for our children, if we ever want to finally defeat Mr. Bin Laden and his legacy, and if we ever want to give others the opportunity to build and shape new realities and conquer the real challenges of our globally connected human civilization, we must find a way to end this war.  And we must do it before irrevocable damage is done to our ideals of freedom, our dreams of peaceful democracy, and our possibilities for mutually beneficial human coexistence.

Ending a war has never been an easy task and ending one against a nameless and faceless enemy only adds additional layers of complexity especially in a world where powerful enemies still mean to do us very real physical harm.  Yet with every free thinker that I meet, with every renegade, every weirdo, and every diehard believer in the dream of ultimate peace I find just enough hope to continue moving forward with the task ahead, to keep thinking, to keep questioning, to keep expressing, and to keep evolving.  The task before us is formidable indeed, but just give us enough time and I have no doubt that we will pool enough of our resources, our ideas, and our understanding to finally deal the death blow to Mr. Bin Laden’s legacy…

There will be no parades, no medals, no ceremonies, and no celebrations for the end of this war.  Final victory will bring no new monuments, no memorial parks, and no rewards for those who will give so much in the struggle.  Many of our fellow citizens won’t even know or understand what the struggle was all about in the first place or be able to point out the time and place where it finally comes to an end.  And far too many of us who choose to dedicate our services to ending this war will never live our day of final peace.  But despite all our troubles, despite all our challenges, despite every insurmountable obstacle standing in our way, in the end there will be peace.  And that peace will be the greatest gift of all that we pass on to future generations.  Keep thinking, keep questioning, and keep evolving my friends…Here’s to ending this war…Loyal to the end…

Cheers,

Brian

2 MAY 2012, 1200(L), Sharana, Paktika, Afghanistan

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