Kendall F. Person’s The Hypocrisy of War

Posted on April 14, 2013

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131,000 military veterans are homeless on any given night. - U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

in 2012, 301 soldiers were killed in combat. 349 took their own lives.  - Pentagon

30% suffer post traumatic stress disorder. ptsd is a mental illness caused by suffering an event of intense fear, helplessness or horror. uncontrolled panic attacks may be induced by sudden loud noises or a real or imagined threat. – Mayo Clinic & NY Times Health

gun to head

In a world unlike ours, they wear no fancy clothes and have never heard of cars. Their homes are barely shelters, perhaps leaves held up by bamboo, providing little if any cover. They dance along the beach, until all hours of the night, rituals and celebrations are just their way of welcoming the night. When the sun slides across the moon, and the daylight takes its turn, they retreat into the jungle. where no one not like them, has dared to ever tread. Savages, has long been how they are referred, and because they have black skin, more than likely worse, but the mongers will never tell. A few photographs prove they exist, and a caring nation assures they are not extinct. No matter what picture the civilized world decides to paint, the people of North Sentinel Island have proven they are no cowards and their way of living is a choice, not a random, natural mistake.

jungleIn the Bay of Bengal, off the tip of India’s shores, lies the Andaman Islands, an archipelago combined with the Nicobar Islands, that remains an Indian territory. Undiscovered, vast and naturally beautiful, making it a unique region, scarcely matched anywhere else on Mother Earth. But a tiny, speck of an island, 25 miles off India’s territorial shores, sits a nation so small, who but the Sentinelese would ever call it home.

A mere 27.8 square miles, (72 km) North Sentinel Island is just a tad bit larger than the entire city of Providence, Rhode Island. The indigenous population, known formally as the Sentinelese, have ruled this tiny nation, for more than 60,000 years. Ancestors arrived from  Africa, on a voyage to a new world, somehow finding paradise and making their claim to their own little world. The descendants have remained unchanged, from their height to their hair, and their ebony colored skin. If the homogeneous colony were not rare enough, they have made no advancements, living the exact same way, hunting and gathering, content with a devout pureness, oblivious to the techno savvy world. warriors

However, the outside world was not content without having the tiny speck. So they staked a claim, under the guise of righteousness, by falsely claiming they were less than human and needed some help.

First contact proved disastrous. Storming the island, kidnapping a portion of the clan, then taking the captives on a voyage to a scary and mysterious land.  A violent illness quickly sickened the adults, as they were introduced to diseases they had developed no immunity to fight. Yet, civility would make an appearance, sparing the last uncontacted tribe from complete annihilation  The Indian Government would order  the stronger children to be returned home, leaving the weak and sickened adults to die, alone and afraid in a world that made no sense. The deaths to the adults, would sear deep into the hearts and souls of the Sentinelese people, who would use, what we would call, primitive markings, to denote in their history,  as the time and place, the outside world had declared war.

indiaPeace would remain for a few years, allowing the Sentinelese to retreat into the forests, governing a country, not quite like ours. The nation of India would force their control, announcing that North Sentinel belonged to them, and with a profound sense of grace, allowed the Sentinelese to remain independent and governors of their own fate.

In early February 2006, a boat containing two drunken fisherman, was picked up by ocean swells, drifted through the protective zone, crashing into the island itself. Loin cloths covering their groin, long spears grasped in their hands, the Sentinelese men, now an army, numbering between 15 – 100, charged out of the jungle, primitive some say, they were actually soldiers, protecting their women, children and their nations’ shores.
underwater

A helicopter arrived some days later, to search for the bodies of the fishermen to take back to their countries, so their families could lay them to rest. But under the swelter of an Indian Ocean sky, this time, it was the Sentinelese  army, that struck the first blow. Hurling spears at the strange machine. that flew in the sky, shouting with threatening gestures, using all the weapons in their arsenal, but in reality, they are a tender but helpless people, for even against a single helicopter, they would have never stood a chance.

Taken like lambs once before, decimating their already small numbers, this brave group of human beings, perhaps direct descendants of Adam or Eve, who trace their lineage through a single, straight line, for thousands of generations, made a vow, that if the intruders ever came again, they would fight to the death, confirming by their actions, that War has touched everyone.

Kendall F. Person’s The Hypocrisy of War
developed, written & edited by Kendall F. Person
editor assistant, Shauna Marie Pierre-Louis

goldengateThere is a complexity to California, no reference to the south.

Northern California actually runs north to south. Bordering Oregon on its top end, and splitting Fresno to the south. While a richness abounds all over, there is a certain vibrancy, that only runs east to west. Buffering the Pacific Ocean,  known as the coast, and sharing the Sierra Nevadas, with the state of the same name.  This distance is modest, less than 150 miles, but the terrain, weather and its people,  can make radical changes. Cool temperatures in the cities surrounding the bay, give rise to a 40 degree difference, after clearing the canyon, and gliding through the valley. Upon arrival in the mountains, there is a comfort to the air again, but between the three points, is a range called the foothills.

hilly townRolling hills and wide open space, deep green canyons and roaring river expanses give the allusion of calm,  jedi-ing a picture-perfect world. While California’s 40 million residents, reside mostly along the coast, and through its central valley, the foothills were not immune to expansion–building towns, one after another. Tourists do not see it, they are taken back by the daffodils, the quaint eateries, and caves, modernized for tours. Locals like to tease, sending alarmist into a panic,  with true tales of cougar sightings, elaborated by not much. But if you spend a little time, or look real close, the homeless challenges, that rock big cities, have not spared this idyllic setting, generally hidden, but perhaps no more, as the drumbeats of discourse, have been sounded, for the citizens living in the shadows, have found a voice.

exercise-w1-4.2In the small hamlet of Camelot, a few locals had vacationed together. Planned by a ban of well-established Veterans, accompanied by their wives, old friends and a few politicians. The trip took them to England, of which they fell in love. Charmed by its formality, impressed with their hosts, it was the historic architecture of which they coveted the most. Having little desire to relocate across the pond, upon returning home  dazzling with stories, to those left behind, the league of respected Veterans, convinced the area council to build a modest replica of big Ben, the building they adored the most.  The story gained traction, surrounding towns joined in to. Builders submitting bids from top corporations, and the well established veterans, returned to the celebrity, that had for so long, been elusive and cruel.

Dreams became reality, as Little Ben was soon erected, standing tall, strong and majestic. A celebration was created, starting small but soon got away from them. Retired serviceman, from throughout the north, planned a caravan to the ribbon cutting, with government leaders, soon following suit. As the anticipated crowd grew, a modest celebration, morphed lavishly out of control. Corporate sponsors soon stepped in, tossing around cash, inducing a bidding war, for namesake to a monument, that had already been namesaked, decades before.  But it was the latest techno giants, that won out in the end, designing a bell to ring, rolling sounds across the land.

big benThe Pacific Ocean’s strength, blows in a steady wind, whistling through the Golden Gate, then gliding across the bay. Dense fog shrouds the region in mist, harnessing the temperatures, where even in the dead of summer, the mercury teeters around 62.

But the wind holds no gale force. It meets its match, budding up against the mid-level range Sulfur Springs Mountains. American Canyon offers a steep drop, then a reminder, of what summers are like in the west, is instant. 62 near the bay, one of five floating micro climates in the region, slams the unaware, and as a welcome to the valley, temperatures soar to 102.

A cooling breeze, blown up through a hidden jewel adorned as the delta,  moderates the summer’s fierceness. But the foothills are not so lucky. Elevated just 3000 feet, no chills arrive from the mountains, and the delta breeze turns its back on the folks in them thar hills. But on this day, the sun was no more than an after thought. Bearing the same intensity – but opposite effect of a mob mentality, the residents of Camelot  would not be left out. Each wished  to create memories on the day known as Little Ben. London had even sent its proxy, which also assured, history would be play out correctly.  The Veterans league planned a parade, utilizing a networking system, those who caravanned  would meet up right before noon, under the shade of Little Ben.

A trip to Great Britain, by a medium sized group, and a dream to construct a tower, which lived to bare fruit, morphed and elevated, grew and branch off,  as even the activists decided this platform was theirs to share too.  Led by Dr. Melanie Scott Jordan, a tenured professor at Stanford University, who had become the nation’s go to expert on Veterans, after being awarded a $5 million dollar grant on a new study of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She too began to galvanize the veterans, but the one’s who were suffering, cold and lonely on their nations’ streets.

dictatorship1The real danger in playing a high-stakes game of Don’t Blink, is when one of the participants values bravado more than the beautiful lives of his very own citizenry.

Kim jong-il, Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, by most  estimates, was hardly ready to become head of any state. But if the state in question was Nauru, an 8.5 square mile, island nation of 13,000 people, his seemingly out-of-nowhere posturing, would receive no second look. But he inherited a starving nation, whose motto appears to  be ‘worship MY government or die’, and seems content with maintaining North Korea’s presence on the world stage, by imposing fear, spreading a cult-personality style regime on the rest of the humanity.

On August 18, 1976, long after the stalemate of the Korean War, the Napoleon syndrome would be taken to a whole other level. North Korea, also referred to as the hermit kingdom, shields outside knowledge, feeding their people, only the information they want. But to believe all North Korean people are desperate to get out, would be misinformed, for many of them are devout.

North Korean Lt. Pak Chul was prepared to start a world war over the cutting of a poplar tree that was rumored to have been planted by their dear leader. ptsd2 U.S. Captain Arthur Bonifas had ordered the tree to be cut down. It sprawled between outposts, and created blind spots in the already dangerous Joint Security Area of the infamous Korean Demilitarized Zone. American troops held axes, prepared to carry out orders.  Lt. Pak approached the captain, ordering him to halt his men from cutting this specific tree. Captain Bonifas stared him down, informing him he would do no such thing.

A captain over posts in one of the most dangerous landscapes of the world, his loyalty, bravery and honor remain unquestioned, deservedly so. But his next move, still baffles war strategists. Facing a mortal enemy, tensions burning in the air, he would turn his back on the Lieutenant, a disrespect even in peaceful parts of the world. The Captain would never see his attacker coming, as the lieutenant showcased his willingness to fight to the death, over the poplar tree, displaying solid loyalty to his leader. The lieutenant, then clubbed the captain to the ground, then screamed these orders to his army of men,  “Kill the bastards!” As soldiers, its paramount to their country, to carry out their mission, exactly as told. Captain Arthur Bonifas would stand no chance, the enemy surrounded him,  and hacked our dear soldier till dead.

238_1oheka_castle_06
In Camelot, Robyn Mayhew was walking down the aisle. Tears streaming down her face, father by her side, mother looking on from the front row with pride.  Standing in her crosshairs, was the only man of her dreams. In full military dress, he awaited atop the alter for his bride and wife to be.

High school sweethearts, they had been through their share of fights, but when his unit was called into duty, their love became air tight. Private Donald Lawson was proud to serve his country, both upon departure and on his third return. While he came back from tour one, tour two and tour three with all his limbs, it was obvious to those who knew him, his mind was not the same.

Panic attacks were random, often violent and unnerving, but always depressing. Invites to the homes of close friends and family, slowed to a trickle before finally drying up. But Robyn would not forsake him, even refusing to run, when the cold look in his eyes, displayed a blankless, that even most writers find hard to describe. She would make it her life’s mission to get him help, and not for the sake of happiness, she no longer imagined that would ever come, but just so her sweet Donald would not live in a  constant hell. She would pound the pavement each and every day. Once, she fist fought a Representative’s assistant, for refusing to tell her boss, of his waiting constituents pressing need  for information or simply a caring talk.

homeless vetsAs she walked down the aisle, silent tears turned to sobs, as she knew her prayers were answered. “Give us this one day of happiness and I swear I will do all the rest”, she prayed the evening before, one hand toward God, the other clutching her beautiful wedding dress. Private Lawson was crying too. He loved his dear sweet Robyn so much more than she ever knew. But the marriage was not his idea. He wanted no part of it. He tried everything to make her hate him, even sabotage, by sleeping with her best friend. But when love is sound and the mind is strong, it cannot be shaken, even when every night, the man lying next to you, screams in his sleep, and fights ghosts, that should have long since been forgot.

Camelot is nestled in hills far from the main road. But its size and proximity to the cities of Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, includes it in certain aspects of the greater metropolis. News of the tiny foothill town playing host to a giant event, soon captured the attention of the media, even reaching the front page. By 11:00 a.m., numbers rose of news cameras, day travelers, activist and hippies. Petitions passed around, platforms being planned, jugglers on stilts, and homeless veteran soldiers preparing to make their stand. A once cozy ribbon cutting, was no longer about Little Ben. The homeless veterans hiked, some of them for 40 miles. Veterans caravan in motor homes and beautiful, corporate sponsored, classic cars.

PTSDFamiliar faces walk passed him. He recognizes each and every one. Although they do not acknowledge his presence, he senses a budding plot. The sky is black and stormy, yet no rain falls. The faces disappear as quickly as they come. A howling wind whipped passed him, setting his nerves on their nightly jittery dance. But it was the sound of explosions in the distance, they started him running, no more than two feet in any direction. The strangers’ faces return, only now deep red like blood.

There is a meadow in the distance. Steadying himself enough, he is able to run toward it.  A child appears, looks like the kid he wished he had, though the child’s face he could not see, hidden beneath a mask. Changing course, he turned in the child’s direction, aiming to take the kid with him, in hopes of finding safety, and leaving this awful place.  But when his eyes opened from blinking, only darkness stood in front. Using every ounce of mental strength, be beat back another anxiety attack, running toward the meadow, and the oasis of peace it seemed to create.

HomelessVetHis arrival in the meadow, proved an errored response. Running right into an ambush, revealing the kid as a roadside pipe bomb. Private Donald Lawson lunged at his would be attackers, grabbing one around the neck, he would at least have a resemblance of satisfaction in knowing an enemy soldier, like him, would be dead.  It would take Robyn, this time, nearly two minutes to calm him down. To convince the veteran soldier is was just another horrible dream. Barely able to catch her own breath  Robyn now knew that two minutes was the maximum amount of time she had, to remove the nightly  stranglehold he would have around her neck.

belltowerHigh in the interior of Little Ben is a complex system of old fashion pulls and pulleys. A dozen architects, technicians and even a watchmaker, feverishly work to assure the bell would ring and ring loudly, at precisely 12:00. The men, your average workers, absorbed into the excitement, already planned and spent, the monies that would surely roll in, believing they deserved at least 15 minutes of fame. The watchmaker had little to do, but he was put on payroll, as insurance that all angles averting disaster were covered through and through. While the others worked to exhaustion, the small town watchmen,  played games inside his head, A quick glance at his favorite, sun dial wristwatch, showed the time at a quarter til 12.

Robyn reached her dear Donald. Her father took his seat beside her mom. His soldier buddies, the ones that returned home, made the trip from wherever they called home. Most walking, two limping and one wheeled in by his elderly mom. His proud unit, once invincible  now existing in the shadows. They stayed in touch, as much they could. Robyn initially sat next to him, when he reminisced on the phone, but between the stories of exploded bodies and complaints of life upon returning home, she felt it easier to give him  space. So she would walk around back, sit under the same oak tree, and release all of the tears that she refused to let him see.

081007-N-9573A-006Secretary Kerry would leave Seoul on an airplane headed for Beijing. China now a true world power, seems hesitant under the bright lights of the international stage, to reel in their rampaging child. Pyongyang more empowered then ever, or at least just as reckless, since the poplar tree, hurled threats at the South, before ratcheting up their rhetoric, all the way to Washington D.C.

At last count, war ships from 25 countries, roamed the Pacific, in a united show of force. Damascus still burns, with little reason to believe either side will give up until the other half of their countryman has been rooted out. Tegucigalpa looks helpless as Honduras quietly rose the ranks, now the murder capitol of the world. The Sudans  remain locked in a self-destructive, lose-lose game, determined to wait the other side out.  Although, it has been a relatively peaceful few months, every soul on earth knows Jerusalem is always a powder keg,  just waiting to erupt. And in a small town named after a more princely era, the usual stifling heat, kept climbing,  becoming completely unbearable.

burning manTen minutes till post time, and the ringing of the bell. A crowd once joyful, when pardoned off amongst themselves, had turned restless. The Veterans league grumbled that they had been outnumbered at their own event. And the homeless Veterans, who served their country under the same type of brutal hell, now looked at the Veterans in the league, with eyes of suspicion, and thoughts they have sold out. The hippies and the tourist were by far the worse. Dancing wildly to their bongos, running in and out of boutiques, swilling their liquor, all laughing up a storm. The media clamored for the best shooting locations, forcing the veterans to move along or trade places. And worse of all, the colossal tower, that ran over budget costing one hundred million dollars, looked clumsy and silly, more like a false idol.

One person, Dr. Melanie Scott Jordan, realized the chaos that was about to assume. At 11:59, in fact, only 30 seconds till the bells would sound off, Dr. Jordan felt worthless with all her degrees. How could she not have known, and sounded the alarms on the mother of all bad ideas.

CivilWarSome pushing and shoving had already begun, as the hippies refused to stand down and quiet those awful drums. The tourists were oblivious, most too hot and already too tired to notice the tension spread thick in the air.

10 seconds remained and Dr. Melanie Scott Jordan, post doctorate from Harvard, Chair of the Psychology Department at Stanford  and now the nation’s go to expert on P.T.S.D, wanted to pull out her own hair out.

As confirmation of her just-in analysis, a television crew, still building an elevated structure, dropped a 25 pound beam from 15 feet up. Its collision with the ground, immediately startled all, but spooked nearly half the crowd. And although she was, it did not take a doctor, to notice the real and strange difference in the air. Eyes of former soldiers now roiling the crowd. A few stepping backward, others moving into formation, as part of a drill. Some believed it bootcamp, but most having flashbacks returned them to war.   Some in the Veterans league, watched with saddening hearts, as their soldiers lost their minds, but others were put off, by the homeless veterans that could not leave it all behind. Television crews turned their cameras away from the clock, and at long last placed the spotlight on our Veterans.

Starting to resemble an idol not seen since Sodom & Gomorrah, Little Ben begin to anger even the sane folk, who now longed to burn the ridiculously named clock — down to the ground. But with 10 seconds til Little Ben’s official debut, there was no time for second guessing. A few hippies, some Veterans and a tourist or two, begin chanting, and dancing then came the backward counting, starting with ten until through.

military-wedding-vowsTwo people were not bothered by the weather or the massive crowds. Private Lawson spared of his usual mid-morning attacks. Robyn received a gift of a beautiful wedding, for her commitment to the love of her life.  And with only a sentence left to say, the Pastor did his duty, delivering these familiar words “You may now kiss your bride.”

…to be continued

Phoenix Rising: Kendall F. Person’s The Hypocrisy of War
the conclusion

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