January 5: Captive Honor, Pt. 2
I believe the absence of honor is one of the many flaws of so called developed societies. Invariably; you will notice that all large and allegedly advanced societies throughout the history of time have held the absence of honor as a shared hallmark of their communities. Irrespective of time period, geography, mode of currency, military distinction, or scholarly prowess, each developed society, to its great detriment, fails to value honor as a necessary element in the lives of its citizens. I submit that honor is as important as oxygen; and any man who doubts this does not know the value of his presence, and must also have a flawed sense of measure with regard to his life’s impact on the lives of others. How is honored defined? Or more importantly; how do you define honor? I can tell you that I define honor as simply as what I will not do, because I feel that defining the things I will not do under any circumstances sets the stage which allow me to live in a way I can be proud of.
Now this is where most of us, as large mammals and athletes who are usually strong in body and character, have a particularly important role in our communities. We can stand and be present, as we have great presence, and not allow our fellow man to be dishonored. To be bullied at home, school or work is to be dishonored. To be marginalized emotionally, intellectually or spiritually is to be dishonored. To be made a scapegoat for the failures of others at work or at home is to be dishonored. To have others decide for you is to be dishonored. To be shouted down is to be dishonored. To be abused physically, emotionally, mentally, or sexually is to be dishonored. And to quit or allow others to make you quit is dishonoring one’s self. To understand what honor means to you; start to consider some of the recent events which made an imprint upon your memory. So much of what we do is misunderstood, or is a mask for a hurt, shame, or pain we have endured. Once I told a comrade that he would find a way to quit; he replied, “I haven’t ever quit anything in my life.” I knew we had a different understanding of honor, so I told him that there are many ways to quit. One can become angry enough to be expelled from the community by being jailed or the workplace by being fired for cause, one can subconsciously sabotage his or her efforts in the workplace causing his or her eventual discharge, one can avail himself of one of the many personal self-destructive tools such as violence, drugs, alcohol or compulsive behavior, or one can simply become defeated. But in the end, all of these are just variations on that age-old standby known as quitting. It must become morally imperative for all people to value honor as the lynchpin which must hold all civilized societies together. And we must understand that there are many ways to be dishonored. There are many ways to quit on life and on one’s self, and there is no excuse for allowing one’s self to be dishonored or for dishonoring one’s self to punish someone else.
I’ve heard it said that life is too short to be angry or regretful; but I submit that life is far too short to live for even one moment with dishonor. The path to self-discovery is laden with opportunity to sabotage one’s personal and professional growth. We must all be resistant to short cut and quick buck artists as they will lead us only to ruin. The only short cut worth taking is the one that goes from ear to ear on the throat of any son of a bitch who attempts to dishonor you. We see wrong, deceit, dishonor, and degradation all around us every day. The wise thing to do is not wish those things away, but to view them as an opportunity to stand tall and make a difference in the world.
December 13: Captive Honor, Pt. 1
The scene: a fairly large group of Chilean Miners trapped almost one mile below the surface of the earth for many, many days and nights. These men existed on a few milliliters of water and 3-4 grams of salted fish per 24 hour period. These men were marooned inside the earth; their plight was dire but their ardor was not dampened by the crushing weight of their circumstances. This real life soap opera captivated a breathless world, who sat in awe contemplating the messy logistical aspects of the miner’s situation. Where do they sleep? Where do they go to the bathroom? Will they be able to breathe much longer? Truly this could be most aptly described as a test of the men’s physical, mental, and emotional strength. The fear and desperation these men felt must have been unbearable; yet they held on through the uncertainty and doubt to finally be reborn out of that hole in the ground. And were hailed by their countrymen as heroes for their honorable actions under terrible strain. I see this as not only a modern example of captive honor; but perhaps the best example to parallel the everyday conflict between the hard right and the easy wrong which each of us face in our daily lives. First, to pose the question, how difficult is it to live honorably every day? That is to say; to live honorably through the small and large struggles that present themselves constantly as we move through life. How many times have you been placed in an uncomfortable or compromising position in your personal or work life? I know, from personal experience, that these compromising situations happen with great frequency in the workplace. There are times when people want to champion the cause of a co-worker or work friend who has been wronged; but do you champion when you know you should… Or are you a spectator? The real question is did you ever think you had a choice?
December 2: Chance or Fate
Never listen to your first or even your second instinct. Human instincts are geared toward helping people survive, not necessarily geared toward helping them dominate. Many times we must stand in the rain and not move; we must remain steadfast in the face of tremendous strife. This is hard to do. I always have a chuckle when I hear people talk about making their own luck or choosing their own way of life. A man's way of life chooses him just as much as the other way around. Chance, or fate as I see it, also affects our trajectory in life.
I believe that the fickle finger of fate will darken each of our doors; we must be prepared to accept our fate with dignity and a warlike mind-frame. We must have the courage to step forward and make the most of our opportunities when they reveal themselves to us. Too many times we sink into malaise and develop a sort of intellectual and spiritual laziness in our lives. We cast aside possibility and we close the door on chance.
Before we had social media, we would have no choice but to speak to people. Those people had impact, some good and some bad, on our lives. Inspiration was rare in those days, but it was real and it wasn't an infomercial. With the advent of social media, daily life, or at least a large part of it, has been reduced to bad television advertisements being brought to you by people who you know are full of shit with their fortune cookie optimism. I say to myself, "I know you asshole. You're not this guru spouting half-baked life advice with incandescent Nikes on your feet and a pink Fitbit on your wrist. You're a fraud, a phony, a charlatan, and a weakling."
Whether or not people choose to accept their fate is not a matter of negative or positive states of mind. Fate is not something one beats or defeats. I don't see fate as a weight around my neck. I see fate as a light that shines brightly above me. We are not condemned or ordained to live one type of life or another. It's rarely as simple as that. Rather, we are born into this reality, this existence, this time, and this place. I see fate as a force much like gravity. It smiles on each of us in its own way, recognizes everything you think and feel, and knows effortlessly all that makes you unique. Your level of awareness – how you relate to the world around you and who you are when no one is watching – will determine the curves in your road.
It troubles people to know that they have such a deep and interwoven connection to their fate. It seems that some would rather walk around believing they are doomed or cursed, rather than trying to understand what their fate is and what it means. I have lived many lives and fought on many distant battlefields. My fate is that of the soldier, the legionnaire, and the renegade. I do not reject this fate. I embrace and devote myself to the workings of fate, and to the wars and battles yet to come. This is what I know.
January 2: Hate Me
In the matter of "The World vs. Machine," a verdict has been reached. The Powers That Be find you, Machine, guilty of being a rabid individualist.
You are guilty of non-commercialism in the first degree for failing to buy into the brain-sucking bullshit marathon that we have developed to enslave all people of the world. You are also guilty of educating people of all ages and races to take control of their own lives, and inciting them to rise up against the power brokers and professional liars. Do you have anything to say on your own behalf?
Products and promises, commerce and compromise, haves and have nots, predators and victims--the whole world is bullshit. I can't blame a man for needing to believe in something or needing to become something more than his sad circumstances will allow. I can't blame him anymore than I can blame a child for wishing on a star. But, while he's wishing on that star, while he's struggling to become more and reaching higher than those who came before, he must be careful.
He must not give in to temptation. He must not buy hope. He must not purchase a promise. He must not believe the lies. It is so hard to remind yourself that what appears to be a direct shot to the stars is really a false path to nothing. Our vision has been clouded by images of rewards and short-cuts that are supposed to elevate a man without him having to climb.
Buy our computer program and you are now equipped to take the world by storm.
Forget about learning from your actual experiences, or the fact that life is our teacher.
Buy our cars and you will become a dashing heartthrob who is constantly surrounded by beautiful people.
Forget about the fact that truly beautiful people would never flock to a shallow image. Be careful not to purchase a dream. Be careful not to cheat life and all it can teach you.
Read our magazine and do exactly as we say and you will become a three hundred pound beast.
Well, I don't think so.
You can believe the lie. You can compromise if you think it's best. You can deal in the currency of bullshit if it turns you on, but you can't cheat life. Everybody owes, everybody pays. That's the way it is. Goals don't fall into our laps, houses aren't built out of paper, and dreams aren't realized by buying a fucking car.
We grow to love our chains. We need our prisons. We depend on our masters for crumbs from the feast. I expect people to hate me for my words and my beliefs. People always hate you when you tell them the truth about who they are. I don't mind being hated. It reminds me I'm alive—not a victim, not a slave bound to a master for my own existence. I might not be Mr. Olympia, but I never bought into any of the bullshit they tried to sell me. What I am trying to achieve is far more important to me than some title. I'm trying to live real life on my own terms.