The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the category “war”

A Member of the Tribe

NEW!

Ipo  (we haven’t heard from him in a while, have we?  He’s always interesting and insightful.)

When there are not enough resources for all,  human beings become more tribal.   The only way to win a war — over water or land or food or work — is to align with the more powerful side.  An individual alone cannot hope to take what he needs in times of scarcity;  those who are stronger will kill to take it away.  An individual needs the protection of his tribe.   The bonds might be familial, geographic, political.  They may be bonds formed only in times of scarcity and tossed aside as unnecessary when the famine is over.  But they are, out of necessity, strong; sometimes a matter of life and death.

In this way,  scarcity and lack of resources fractures society, causes rifts along formerly peaceful lines,  and becomes an impetus for war.

Humans have abused their planet – their waters, their land, their air —  and they have multiplied their numbers beyond what the earth can sustain.  The cracks are forming.  Social norms are shattering.  Everywhere it is “us” and “them.”  Wars erupt across the planet,  scattered and explosive, like lightening from space.

Sometimes,   humans recognize that the opposing force is stronger  and more likely to win. Allegiances shift.  People claim they have lost faith in their cause,  but at its root, they believe the other side offers a better chance at survival.

Acrimony is inversely proportional to available resources.  The fewer the resources, the angrier the mobs.

In order to have peace, the fewest number of people must be left wanting.

 

______

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey.

Anchors Aweigh

This was first published last July but it reminds me so much of the current news story about Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald being hit in the Sea of Japan, and all those sailors dying while sleeping,  I am  reposting it again today,  out of order.

 May they all rest in peace.   Condolences to their families and loved ones.

 http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-40317341

The_Royal_Navy_during_the_Second_World_War_A11482

 

Gle

I was just out of school,  still mostly a boy,  when I joined the Navy.  There was a big war going on, and I was eager to serve my country and see the world.   In the early days, I had the exuberance of youth; the certainty of my invulnerability. I believed I would return home a hero, with interesting tales to tell for the rest of my life.

It wasn’t long before my fantasies collapsed and my mood (and most of the others’ around me) swung between a self-protective detachment and abject terror. These emotions often manifested at inappropriate moments.   One afternoon,  our ship was strafed by enemy planes.  I and my fellow gunners manned the positions,  immediately becoming primary targets for fire.  Two of my companions died right on the deck beside me, but I had no time to mourn, no time for fear.  I focused on my job.  My aim was true.  I brought down two aircraft, watching with indifference as their pilots and their crews were swallowed by the vast ocean, unbroken ocean.

During that battle and in the hours that followed, I felt nothing.   It was only much later that a thick fog of terror and panic rolled in,  enveloping and smothering me.

Weeks later, a bird fell from the sky, dead,  onto the deck and suddenly,  I felt awash in guilt for having taken the lives of those foreign flyers. They were not so different from me and my mates, all of us just doing our jobs.

Some nights after many days of relative calm, I’d wake up in a cold sweat.  The quiet felt like a bad omen.

Apropos of nothing, the hair would stand up on my neck.  My breath would grow short and my heart would beat, rat-tat-tat, like an artillery tattoo, in my chest.

But in action, I was distracted,  attentive,  too focused on what was happening in that very moment to worry about what might happen in the future, even the immediate future.

And so the months went,  a pendulum between action and tedium,  fear and fatalism.

Eventually,  it was my turn for leave.  We were heading for a friendly port, and once there, I would be flying home for a week or so to see my family and my girl.

I hung in my hammock,  wrapped like a cocoon so I wouldn’t fall out,  swinging to and fro in the rough seas.  When I first came to the ship,  I found this movement rather sickening, but eventually I grew used to it and felt it comforting, like being rocked to sleep in a cradle.   The sound of the other guys snoring and grunting gave me comfort, for we were brothers and took care of each other.  I was sleeping peacefully,  dreaming of home.

And then, suddenly I was wide awake, up to my face in quickly-rising salt water,  the smell of fuel thick in the air. The ship had been hit by a torpedo and we were sinking fast.  I could see others floating around me, already dead.   I had only a few moments of consciousness left before it was my turn to drown.  I said a quick prayer and then gave myself over to remembering the last time my girl and I kissed.  And then I was gone.

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

Head Down, Eyes on Your Own Work!

NEW!

blinders

Alo

I suppose some might have called me a coward but I’m not sure if that was 100% true, at least not in the sense they meant it.  I was simply disinterested in anything much outside of my own small world to take a stand.  All consequences were measured only insofar as they affected me personally. I kept my nose down, did my job, and as long as I continued to be paid for my work, I did not make trouble or take a position.

When things started to escalate and people were forced to choose sides, I just remained where I was, saying nothing. This inertia was interpreted as tacit agreement with the position of my employers.  I served them, not the greater good.  I wasn’t forced. I wasn’t coerced. My moral positions were limited to whatever would allow me to continue to earn a living and feed my family.  I was not obligated to others.  They could fend for themselves.

As discontent and anger spread, I took shelter in the aegis of my overlords, who promoted me because of my loyalty.  In fact, my loyalty to them went only as far as their loyalty to me. If they had stopped paying me, I would have denounced them in an instant. But, at least for a long time, I did not need to do so.

There came a time, however, when one was on one side or the other, whether you chose it yourself or not.  Doing nothing was choosing a side.  Being willingly obedient was choosing a side.  Being complacent was choosing a side.  Turning a blind eye was choosing a side.   And so, my side was chosen.  Ultimately, this was not the side to be on.

But time passed,  and people forgave those like me, who were just trying to keep their heads down and stay alive.  There were so many of us,  and even though, collectively,  we allowed the evil to happen,  none of us, alone, was responsible.  As a group,  we made excuses for ourselves.  Most of those left standing at the end were of the same ilk.  To blame each other would be to blame ourselves.

It was easy for outsiders to blame us; for those who sacrificed to condemn us for not doing more (or anything at all).  They did not have this dilemma of having to forgive others in order to forgive themselves.   It was easy to create our new reality and make excuses when everybody else was doing the same.

And we seamlessly moved through our lives, into other jobs, with other employers, with new overlords,   once again, giving little attention to what was being done in our name.

—–

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a lot of hooey.

Will to Live

girl_affected_by_famine_in_buguruslan_russia_-_1921

NEW!

Nur

When you are healthy and happy, secure and well-fed, you believe you can withstand any hardship. Sacrifice, discomfort, deprivation are all abstract, as they were for me until the end of my life.   Before then, I never understood what it meant to have nothing.  I never understood starvation or thirst.  I never understood the true meaning of “the will to live” until I lost mine.

The deprivation began slowly. Shortages of this or that.  We made do, hopeful that things would soon go back to the way they were.  But they did not improve.  Rather, they got worse. The things we took for granted were no longer available.  We had to find other ways to survive. There was no place else to go and no way to get there, and even if there were, we wouldn’t have had the strength. All of us, men, women, and children were starving. We fell sick easily and succumbed to things that would not have killed us if we’d been strong to begin with. Slowly, we dwindled in number. Those who were left were skin and bone.  Hollow ghosts of what we once were.  Eventually, it became apparent that few, if any of us, would survive.  Deliverance, salvation, was never going to come.

There was no honor, no satisfaction being the last to die. I’d been welcoming the end for a long time.  I simply did not have the energy to stay alive.

____

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

 

Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin

originally published April 3, 2015

 

(Although written over a year ago,  the moral of this story is excruciatingly apt for what’s going on now.)

alexmankiewicz.com-ostrich2

 

Ha

The writing was on the wall, plain enough to see for anyone who looked. I saw it, myself, but I could not believe what was written. All the signs were there. Danger increased every day. Mistrust festered. Hatred boiled just below the surface. You couldn’t help but feel it, but many of us were hoping it would burn itself out.  We could not believe it would get worse. Surely people would come to their senses!   After all, we were living in modern times, in a civilized place. So we thought. But then, doesn’t everyone believe they are living in a civilized place in modern times?

The lucky ones, the smart ones, they left while they still could. The earlier they heeded the signs, the more they were able to salvage of their lives. Others, like me, simply couldn’t believe it could get bad enough to warrant picking up our entire lives and fleeing; leaving behind everyone and everything we knew. Leaving behind our homes, our businesses, our jobs, our schools, our places of worship, our sense of belonging.

By the time things became desperate, there was no escaping. The slaughter had begun and there was no one and nothing to protect us. In that time of fear, what was most terrifying of all was seeing how quickly men become animals; how uncivilized they can be the defense of their civilization.

It’s natural to look at violence and war and cruelty that takes place far away or happened long before, and think, “That was a different time; those were different people. It can’t happen here. We are better than that.”

I learned in the most cruel way, it is always dangerous to underestimate the brutality of humans.

Too many are of them are voids, easily raised to ire and led to violence by those who can fill their hearts with meaning.

artwork: http://www.alexmankiewicz.com

_____

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

The Rule of Anarchy

Originally published March 26, 2015

Kha

In the time and place when I last lived it was impossible to tell the righteous from the evil.  Sometimes,  your enemy could be kind or generous or offer you aid in your time of need; and sometimes your own friends and family betrayed you.  Trust was a luxury in which no one dared indulge, not even in love.  Allegiances fluttered like leaves on the trees; showing first  one face and then suddenly, with a slight change in the wind,  exposing their their pale, veined undersides to the sun.

I worked hard to avoid aligning myself with either camp, but this proved nearly impossible.  I pretended to be feeble-minded so they would not demand too much of me; so they would not press me too often into service for their cause.  If I could not be relied upon to do their bidding, I would not be asked. Or, if I were asked and I failed,  I would not be thought a traitor.

But what was a traitor?  A traitor to what? What was left to betray? Nothing was black or white, up or down, right or wrong. Everything was a muddy dun-colored pile of string. You could not tell from looking if it was comprised of one long one strand or a hundred short ones.  But it did not matter if it was it was all connected or not.   In the beginning,  it had all been of one piece. Chopping it apart did not make the parts manifestly different from each other.

They all liked to believe they stood for something unique but there was no difference. People ostensibly chose sides but in reality, loyalties were too easily bought and sold for sides to have any real meaning. People stood with whomever could best provide what they needed most at that moment…food,  protection, shelter, weapons.

There was no law…not of government, not of God, and not even most natural laws of man. Society did not exist, only quotidian anarchy.

This was all I ever knew in that life.  My ruse of playing the fool worked to keep my out of any political tug of war and away from accusations, but it could not save me from random violence. I was killed by a bomb, along with the guilty, the innocent and the undecided.

_____

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

Anchors Aweigh

New Post!The_Royal_Navy_during_the_Second_World_War_A11482

 

Gle

I was just out of school,  still mostly a boy,  when I joined the Navy.  There was a big war going on, and I was eager to serve my country and see the world.   In the early days, I had the exuberance of youth; the certainty of my invulnerability. I believed I would return home a hero, with interesting tales to tell for the rest of my life.

It wasn’t long before my fantasies collapsed and my mood (and most of the others’ around me) swung between a self-protective detachment and abject terror. These emotions often manifested at inappropriate moments.   One afternoon,  our ship was strafed by enemy planes.  I and my fellow gunners manned the positions,  immediately becoming primary targets for fire.  Two of my companions died right on the deck beside me, but I had no time to mourn, no time for fear.  I focused on my job.  My aim was true.  I brought down two aircraft, watching with indifference as their pilots and their crews were swallowed by the vast ocean, unbroken ocean.

During that battle and in the hours that followed, I felt nothing.   It was only much later that a thick fog of terror and panic rolled in,  enveloping and smothering me.

Weeks later, a bird fell from the sky, dead,  onto the deck and suddenly,  I felt awash in guilt for having taken the lives of those foreign flyers. They were not so different from me and my mates, all of us just doing our jobs.

Some nights after many days of relative calm, I’d wake up in a cold sweat.  The quiet felt like a bad omen.

Apropos of nothing, the hair would stand up on my neck.  My breath would grow short and my heart would beat, rat-tat-tat, like an artillery tattoo, in my chest.

But in action, I was distracted,  attentive,  too focused on what was happening in that very moment to worry about what might happen in the future, even the immediate future.

And so the months went,  a pendulum between action and tedium,  fear and fatalism.

Eventually,  it was my turn for leave.  We were heading for a friendly port, and once there, I would be flying home for a week or so to see my family and my girl.

I hung in my hammock,  wrapped like a cocoon so I wouldn’t fall out,  swinging to and fro in the rough seas.  When I first came to the ship,  I found this movement rather sickening, but eventually I grew used to it and felt it comforting, like being rocked to sleep in a cradle.   The sound of the other guys snoring and grunting gave me comfort, for we were brothers and took care of each other.  I was sleeping peacefully,  dreaming of home.

And then, suddenly I was wide awake, up to my face in quickly-rising salt water,  the smell of fuel thick in the air. The ship had been hit by a torpedo and we were sinking fast.  I could see others floating around me, already dead.   I had only a few moments of consciousness left before it was my turn to drown.  I said a quick prayer and then gave myself over to remembering the last time my girl and I kissed.  And then I was gone.

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!

Evil, One Click at a Time

New!

Cog-in-the-machine

Yu

I did what I was made to do. I never questioned. If you’d asked me at the time if I was choosing my actions of my own volition, I would have said yes, but I see now that I had no choice. I was a cog in a machine much greater than myself. I was turned in place by the other gears grinding in unison towards the common goal.

History says we behaved like animals; that we treated others like animals  but that was not true. Animals do not torture and abuse and murder their own kind.

My humanity was stolen from me and before I could recognize the depth of that loss, it was too late.

I wasn’t born cruel, but then cruelty is often a matter of perspective. I wasn’t the kind to think things through too deeply.  I was smart enough in many ways, but morally I was lazy. I trusted those in positions of greater authority to tell me what was right and wrong. It was simpler and less mentally taxing to see things as clearly black and white, good and evil.

As long as I obeyed those in authority, I felt no moral compunctions about what I did; suffered no sleepless nights wracked with guilt. I never questioned that I was on the side of right.   And in this way, it was easy to bring me (and others just like me) to heel, to do the bidding of the powerful whose true motives I never knew.

Those in authority are in those positions because they understand that to consolidate, maintain and focus their power, they must appeal to that most basic need in others:   to be on the side of Right; on the side of God. Once convinced, a follower can be made to do anything. Soldiers will only fight and kill if they believe their cause is just.  An army cannot survive on doubt.

But enemies cannot both be on the side of Right.

During war, right and wrong are relative. They are not determined until the fighting and killing are over. Human morality is judged upon the results.

On this side, morality is judged by different criteria.

 

—–

Thank you for visiting.  If you enjoyed this post, please follow the blog and/or sign up to receive email posts. New posts every three days.  Comments are welcome here or at https://www.facebook.com/livesofthedead.   If you know anyone who would enjoy or relate to this,  please forward.  Would greatly appreciate sharing on social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)  Thanks!

Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin

alexmankiewicz.com-ostrich2

Ha

The writing was on the wall, plain enough to see for anyone who looked. I saw it, myself, but I could not believe what was written. All the signs were there. Danger increased every day. Mistrust festered. Hatred boiled just below the surface. You couldn’t help but feel it, but many of us were hoping it would burn itself out.  We could not believe it would get worse. Surely people would come to their senses!   After all, we were living in modern times, in a civilized place. So we thought. But then, doesn’t everyone believe they are living in a civilized place in modern times?

The lucky ones, the smart ones, they left while they still could. The earlier they heeded the signs, the more they were able to salvage of their lives. Others, like me, simply couldn’t believe it could get bad enough to warrant picking up our entire lives and fleeing; leaving behind everyone and everything we knew. Leaving behind our homes, our businesses, our jobs, our schools, our places of worship, our sense of belonging.

By the time things became desperate, there was no escaping. The slaughter had begun and there was no one and nothing to protect us. In that time of fear, what was most terrifying of all was seeing how quickly men become animals; how uncivilized they can be the defense of their civilization.

It’s natural to look at violence and war and cruelty that takes place far away or happened long before, and think, “That was a different time; those were different people. It can’t happen here. We are better than that.”

I learned in the most cruel way, it is always dangerous to underestimate the brutality of humans.

Too many are of them are voids, easily raised to ire and led to violence by those who can fill their hearts with meaning.

artwork: http://www.alexmankiewicz.com

_____

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

The Rule of Anarchy

Kha

In the time and place when I last lived it was impossible to tell the righteous from the evil.  Sometimes,  your enemy could be kind or generous or offer you aid in your time of need; and sometimes your own friends and family betrayed you.  Trust was a luxury in which no one dared indulge, not even in love.  Allegiances fluttered like leaves on the trees; showing first  one face and then suddenly, with a slight change in the wind,  exposing their their pale, veined undersides to the sun.

I worked hard to avoid aligning myself with either camp, but this proved nearly impossible.  I pretended to be feeble-minded so they would not demand too much of me; so they would not press me too often into service for their cause.  If I could not be relied upon to do their bidding, I would not be asked. Or, if I were asked and I failed,  I would not be thought a traitor.

But what was a traitor?  A traitor to what? What was left to betray? Nothing was black or white, up or down, right or wrong. Everything was a muddy dun-colored pile of string. You could not tell from looking if it was comprised of one long one strand or a hundred short ones.  But it did not matter if it was it was all connected or not.   In the beginning,  it had all been of one piece. Chopping it apart did not make the parts manifestly different from each other.

They all liked to believe they stood for something unique but there was no difference. People ostensibly chose sides but in reality, loyalties were too easily bought and sold for sides to have any real meaning. People stood with whomever could best provide what they needed most at that moment…food,  protection, shelter, weapons.

There was no law…not of government, not of God, and not even most natural laws of man. Society did not exist, only quotidian anarchy.

This was all I ever knew in that life.  My ruse of playing the fool worked to keep my out of any political tug of war and away from accusations, but it could not save me from random violence. I was killed by a bomb, along with the guilty, the innocent and the undecided.

_____

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

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