February 19, 2010
February 19, 2010
By Joe Stack from http://www.embeddedart.com
If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, “Why did this have to happen?” The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time. The writing process, started many months ago, was intended to be therapy in the face of the looming realization that there isn’t enough therapy in the world that can fix what is really broken. Needless to say, this rant could fill volumes with example after example if I would let it. I find the process of writing it frustrating, tedious, and probably pointless… especially given my gross inability to gracefully articulate my thoughts in light of the storm raging in my head. Exactly what is therapeutic about that I’m not sure, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
We are all taught as children that without laws there would be no society, only anarchy. Sadly, starting at early ages we in this country have been brainwashed to believe that, in return for our dedication and service, our government stands for justice for all. We are further brainwashed to believe that there is freedom in this place, and that we should be ready to lay our lives down for the noble principals represented by its founding fathers. Remember? One of these was “no taxation without representation”. I have spent the total years of my adulthood unlearning that crap from only a few years of my childhood. These days anyone who really stands up for that principal is promptly labeled a “crackpot”, traitor and worse.
While very few working people would say they haven’t had their fair share of taxes (as can I), in my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind. Nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say.
Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours? Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.
And justice? You’ve got to be kidding!
How can any rational individual explain that white elephant conundrum in the middle of our tax system and, indeed, our entire legal system? Here we have a system that is, by far, too complicated for the brightest of the master scholars to understand. Yet, it mercilessly “holds accountable” its victims, claiming that they’re responsible for fully complying with laws not even the experts understand. The law “requires” a signature on the bottom of a tax filing; yet no one can say truthfully that they understand what they are signing; if that’s not “duress” than what is. If this is not the measure of a totalitarian regime, nothing is.
How did I get here?
My introduction to the real American nightmare starts back in the early ‘80s. Unfortunately after more than 16 years of school, somewhere along the line I picked up the absurd, pompous notion that I could read and understand plain English. Some friends introduced me to a group of people who were having ‘tax code’ readings and discussions. In particular, zeroed in on a section relating to the wonderful “exemptions” that make institutions like the vulgar, corrupt Catholic Church so incredibly wealthy. We carefully studied the law (with the help of some of the “best”, high-paid, experienced tax lawyers in the business), and then began to do exactly what the “big boys” were doing (except that we weren’t steeling from our congregation or lying to the government about our massive profits in the name of God). We took a great deal of care to make it all visible, following all of the rules, exactly the way the law said it was to be done.
The intent of this exercise and our efforts was to bring about a much-needed re-evaluation of the laws that allow the monsters of organized religion to make such a mockery of people who earn an honest living. However, this is where I learned that there are two “interpretations” for every law; one for the very rich, and one for the rest of us… Oh, and the monsters are the very ones making and enforcing the laws; the inquisition is still alive and well today in this country.
That little lesson in patriotism cost me $40,000+, 10 years of my life, and set my retirement plans back to 0. It made me realize for the first time that I live in a country with an ideology that is based on a total and complete lie. It also made me realize, not only how naive I had been, but also the incredible stupidity of the American public; that they buy, hook, line, and sinker, the crap about their “freedom”… and that they continue to do so with eyes closed in the face of overwhelming evidence and all that keeps happening in front of them.
Before even having to make a shaky recovery from the sting of the first lesson on what justice really means in this country (around 1984 after making my way through engineering school and still another five years of “paying my dues”), I felt I finally had to take a chance of launching my dream of becoming an independent engineer.
On the subjects of engineers and dreams of independence, I should digress somewhat to say that I’m sure that I inherited the fascination for creative problem solving from my father. I realized this at a very young age.
The significance of independence, however, came much later during my early years of college; at the age of 18 or 19 when I was living on my own as student in an apartment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. My neighbor was an elderly retired woman (80+ seemed ancient to me at that age) who was the widowed wife of a retired steel worker. Her husband had worked all his life in the steel mills of central Pennsylvania with promises from big business and the union that, for his 30 years of service, he would have a pension and medical care to look forward to in his retirement. Instead he was one of the thousands who got nothing because the incompetent mill management and corrupt union (not to mention the government) raided their pension funds and stole their retirement. All she had was social security to live on.
In retrospect, the situation was laughable because here I was living on peanut butter and bread (or Ritz crackers when I could afford to splurge) for months at a time. When I got to know this poor figure and heard her story I felt worse for her plight than for my own (I, after all, I thought I had everything to in front of me). I was genuinely appalled at one point, as we exchanged stories and commiserated with each other over our situations, when she in her grandmotherly fashion tried to convince me that I would be “healthier” eating cat food (like her) rather than trying to get all my substance from peanut butter and bread. I couldn’t quite go there, but the impression was made. I decided that I didn’t trust big business to take care of me, and that I would take responsibility for my own future and myself.
Return to the early ‘80s, and here I was off to a terrifying start as a ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ contract software engineer… and two years later, thanks to the fine backroom, midnight effort by the sleazy executives of Arthur Andersen (the very same folks who later brought us Enron and other such calamities) and an equally sleazy New York Senator (Patrick Moynihan), we saw the passage of 1986 tax reform act with its section 1706.
For you who are unfamiliar, here is the core text of the IRS Section 1706, defining the treatment of workers (such as contract engineers) for tax purposes. Visit this link for a conference committee report (http://www.synergistech.com/1706.shtml#ConferenceCommitteeReport) regarding the intended interpretation of Section 1706 and the relevant parts of Section 530, as amended. For information on how these laws affect technical services workers and their clients, read our discussion here (http://www.synergistech.com/ic-taxlaw.shtml).
SEC. 1706. TREATMENT OF CERTAIN TECHNICAL PERSONNEL.
(a) IN GENERAL – Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new subsection:
(d) EXCEPTION. – This section shall not apply in the case of an individual who pursuant to an arrangement between the taxpayer and another person, provides services for such other person as an engineer, designer, drafter, computer programmer, systems analyst, or other similarly skilled worker engaged in a similar line of work.
(b) EFFECTIVE DATE. – The amendment made by this section shall apply to remuneration paid and services rendered after December 31, 1986.
• “another person” is the client in the traditional job-shop relationship.
• “taxpayer” is the recruiter, broker, agency, or job shop.
• “individual”, “employee”, or “worker” is you.
Admittedly, you need to read the treatment to understand what it is saying but it’s not very complicated. The bottom line is that they may as well have put my name right in the text of section (d). Moreover, they could only have been more blunt if they would have came out and directly declared me a criminal and non-citizen slave. Twenty years later, I still can’t believe my eyes.
During 1987, I spent close to $5000 of my ‘pocket change’, and at least 1000 hours of my time writing, printing, and mailing to any senator, congressman, governor, or slug that might listen; none did, and they universally treated me as if I was wasting their time. I spent countless hours on the L.A. freeways driving to meetings and any and all of the disorganized professional groups who were attempting to mount a campaign against this atrocity. This, only to discover that our efforts were being easily derailed by a few moles from the brokers who were just beginning to enjoy the windfall from the new declaration of their “freedom”. Oh, and don’t forget, for all of the time I was spending on this, I was loosing income that I couldn’t bill clients.
After months of struggling it had clearly gotten to be a futile exercise. The best we could get for all of our trouble is a pronouncement from an IRS mouthpiece that they weren’t going to enforce that provision (read harass engineers and scientists). This immediately proved to be a lie, and the mere existence of the regulation began to have its impact on my bottom line; this, of course, was the intended effect.
Again, rewind my retirement plans back to 0 and shift them into idle. If I had any sense, I clearly should have left abandoned engineering and never looked back.
Instead I got busy working 100-hour workweeks. Then came the L.A. depression of the early 1990s. Our leaders decided that they didn’t need the all of those extra Air Force bases they had in Southern California, so they were closed; just like that. The result was economic devastation in the region that rivaled the widely publicized Texas S&L fiasco. However, because the government caused it, no one gave a shit about all of the young families who lost their homes or street after street of boarded up houses abandoned to the wealthy loan companies who received government funds to “shore up” their windfall. Again, I lost my retirement.
Years later, after weathering a divorce and the constant struggle trying to build some momentum with my business, I find myself once again beginning to finally pick up some speed. Then came the .COM bust and the 911 nightmare. Our leaders decided that all aircraft were grounded for what seemed like an eternity; and long after that, ‘special’ facilities like San Francisco were on security alert for months. This made access to my customers prohibitively expensive. Ironically, after what they had done the Government came to the aid of the airlines with billions of our tax dollars … as usual they left me to rot and die while they bailed out their rich, incompetent cronies WITH MY MONEY! After these events, there went my business but not quite yet all of my retirement and savings.
By this time, I’m thinking that it might be good for a change. Bye to California, I’ll try Austin for a while. So I moved, only to find out that this is a place with a highly inflated sense of self-importance and where damn little real engineering work is done. I’ve never experienced such a hard time finding work. The rates are 1/3 of what I was earning before the crash, because pay rates here are fixed by the three or four large companies in the area who are in collusion to drive down prices and wages… and this happens because the justice department is all on the take and doesn’t give a fuck about serving anyone or anything but themselves and their rich buddies.
To survive, I was forced to cannibalize my savings and retirement, the last of which was a small IRA. This came in a year with mammoth expenses and not a single dollar of income. I filed no return that year thinking that because I didn’t have any income there was no need. The sleazy government decided that they disagreed. But they didn’t notify me in time for me to launch a legal objection so when I attempted to get a protest filed with the court I was told I was no longer entitled to due process because the time to file ran out. Bend over for another $10,000 helping of justice.
So now we come to the present. After my experience with the CPA world, following the business crash I swore that I’d never enter another accountant’s office again. But here I am with a new marriage and a boatload of undocumented income, not to mention an expensive new business asset, a piano, which I had no idea how to handle. After considerable thought I decided that it would be irresponsible NOT to get professional help; a very big mistake.
When we received the forms back I was very optimistic that they were in order. I had taken all of the years information to Bill Ross, and he came back with results very similar to what I was expecting. Except that he had neglected to include the contents of Sheryl’s unreported income; $12,700 worth of it. To make matters worse, Ross knew all along this was missing and I didn’t have a clue until he pointed it out in the middle of the audit. By that time it had become brutally evident that he was representing himself and not me.
This left me stuck in the middle of this disaster trying to defend transactions that have no relationship to anything tax-related (at least the tax-related transactions were poorly documented). Things I never knew anything about and things my wife had no clue would ever matter to anyone. The end result is… well, just look around.
I remember reading about the stock market crash before the “great” depression and how there were wealthy bankers and businessmen jumping out of windows when they realized they screwed up and lost everything. Isn’t it ironic how far we’ve come in 60 years in this country that they now know how to fix that little economic problem; they just steal from the middle class (who doesn’t have any say in it, elections are a joke) to cover their asses and it’s “business-as-usual”. Now when the wealthy fuck up, the poor get to die for the mistakes… isn’t that a clever, tidy solution.
As government agencies go, the FAA is often justifiably referred to as a tombstone agency, though they are hardly alone. The recent presidential puppet GW Bush and his cronies in their eight years certainly reinforced for all of us that this criticism rings equally true for all of the government. Nothing changes unless there is a body count (unless it is in the interest of the wealthy sows at the government trough). In a government full of hypocrites from top to bottom, life is as cheap as their lies and their self-serving laws.
I know I’m hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand. It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it isn’t limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants. I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be as many after. But I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at “big brother” while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won’t continue; I have just had enough.
I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less. I would only hope that by striking a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what they are. Sadly, though I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn’t so, but violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer. The cruel joke is that the really big chunks of shit at the top have known this all along and have been laughing, at and using this awareness against, fools like me all along.
I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.
The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.
Joe Stack (1956-2010)
November 3, 2009
October 25, 2009
Nanaimo man shot dead by RCMP
By Salim Jiwa
NANAIMO, B.C. – Cops have shot dead a fourth B.C. resident in less than five weeks.
This time, things went awry while police were investigating a noise complaint in a townhouse complex in the Vancouver Island city of Nanaimo.
A Facebook announcement stated the man was a member of the Aryan Nations ideology-driven organization known as The NorthWest Front. The announcement claimed the page “NorthWest Imperative” on Facebook was owned by the man shot dead by RCMP.
“I deeply regret to report that at approximately 6 A.M on October 24th, 2009, Comrade Jeff Hughes, the owner and author of this page, was murdered, gunned down outside his home by the RCMP.
Thomas Paine once wrote that the tree of liberty must be wate…red with the blood of patriots. Our Northwest nation now has another martyr to stand alongside Robert Mathews, Sam and Vicky Weaver, and Pastor Richard Butler.
“Und Ihr habt doch Gesiegt, Kamerad.” – Harold Covington.
However, police authorized to speak about the death could not be reached for comment about whether the announcement contained accurate information.
RCMP Detachment members were called to a townhouse located in the 500 block of Selby Street for a report of noise complaint,” said a statement issued by RCMP spokesman Sgt. Rob Vermeulen about the incident that began at 6 a.m. on Friday.
“When officers arrived, they encountered a male. Given the nature of the subject’s response to police, the members withdrew and contained the residence, requesting the attendance of the Emergency Response Team and a police service dog,” he said, without providing details of the nature of the conduct towards police or whether the male was armed.
“Paramedics were also asked to standby,” said Vermeulen.
“While officers awaited the arrival of these specialized units, the male came out of the residence,” he said.
“A confrontation ensued between him and the officers and shots were fired by police. The male was struck and he succumbed to his injuries at the scene. The name of the victim is being with held pending notification of next of kin,” he said.
Police have asked the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit (VIIMCU) to conduct an investigation which will be led by Victoria Police.
“ The RCMP regrets this tragic loss of life and is cooperating fully with the investigation,” he said.
“The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC) has been advised of this incident and have invoked their Independent Observer Program to provide civilian monitoring of the police investigation,” said Vermeulen.
“ The observer will be given unfettered access to all aspects of the investigation to ensure impartiality throughout the course of the investigation,” he added.
The police did not say why a number of police officers who were there failed to overpower the man. There was no mention of the man being armed with anything.
This is the fourth fatal shooting by police in B.C. since Sept. 18.
In another incident police critically wounded a man on Sept. 18 during a traffic stop on Vancouver Island. On Oct. 10, cops fired shots at a car as it raced past them while cops were investigating a car accident in Surrey, B.C.
- Sept. 18. Eugene Anthony Knight, 46, a handyman in Vancouver was shot dead by Vancouver Police after they received a 911 call stating Knight was holding a knife to his wife’s throat. Police broke into the apartment and fired Taser darts then shot and killed the man. The man’s 13-year-old daughter was present in the small apartment when her dad was shot.
- Sept. 26: Rodney Jackson, 27, who was wanted on five warrants, was shot dead by RCMP who had hunted him down to a rural location 70 kilometres from the community of Hazelton. Jackson, police said, was shot dead during an attempt to arrest him. They said he was armed.
- Sept. 30: A 41-year-old farmer who was the father of 11 children was shot dead by RCMP’s emergency team when he attempted to break out of a police cordon in the small farming community of Buick Creek north of Fort St. John. Police said the man had earlier threatened his own family and blown out tires of a vehicle containing his wife and children. Police said they did not want the man to exit the cordoned area armed with a rifle.
On Sept. 18, police fired at a 40-year-old motorist and critically wounded him during a traffic stop near Duncan on Vancouver Island. The man was ordered to sit down near his car and apparently shot while he was he was seated on the ground. A policeman involved in that shootings has been assigned desk duties while an investigation continues.
On Oct. 10, Surrey RCMP officers fired shots at a car that failed to obey a flag person at the scene of an accident. The cops fired at the car as it passed them but police were unable to determine if anyone was injured as a result of the police firing. An investigation is underway.
October 25, 2009
October 22, 2009
October 22, 2009
Virtue of the Sword
by James Williams
Training in various, seemingly antiquated, military arts is becoming increasing common in our 21st century society. Why pursue these arts that require so much effort, discipline, and often pain? Why do we seek to test ourselves in struggle and training for combat? What brought us to these arts, and what do we hope to get out of this training?
I am frequently asked why I practice and teach classical warrior skills and adhere to a philosophy that appears outdated to many. The sword has defined the warrior for thousands of years. It has defined the power, ethics, duty and self-defense of a class of people who have shaped the face of civilization on this planet. The skill, exercise, mental development, and sheer pleasure of using a sword is unique. Hand-to-hand combat with edged weapons is the most demanding form of human physical combat. It not only requires the most skill, both physical and mental, it develops in the adept abilities that separate him from others and elevates intuition, reflexes, and technique to the highest degree. For the warrior, the sword represents his duty, his honor and his responsibility.
This is, for the most part, no longer a society that values the warrior and his virtues. Ours is a society that has forgotten the sacrifices and struggles of so many who came before them, the fruit of whose effort and sacrifice we daily enjoy; it is a society that will ask of its military, but not honor or care for its men. It is a society where virtue is often looked at askance, where character is not required of those who would seek to lead us. A society that enjoys enormous plenty yet denies its military the necessary munitions to train to protect this very wealth. Why do a significant number of its citizens seek training and embrace virtues that seem passe? Perhaps not all have forgotten that less than 60 years ago the entire world was involved in a great struggle to determine if a free nation could exist. Most of us know someone who participated in that struggle and through whose efforts we have the gift of choice and plenty which seems to be taken so lightly by so many.
“Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival”. Winston Churchill
“For without victory there is no survival.” These words define the role of the male in history, his service to life. The harsh reality of freedom in a nation, a fact that is overlooked or denied by many, is that our freedom is the direct result of our strength. It was by struggle and conflict that we became free and have kept ourselves that way. We have received from our ancestors, at great cost, a precious gift that must be cherished and nurtured if we are going to pass it on to our children. It must be protected, fought for if necessary, and we must not let this gift be taken from us by those whose rhetoric and actions are nonsense. These are people who seek things for themselves at the expense of the whole.
“Freedom means responsibility and that is why most men shun it.”
George Bernard Shaw
Everywhere that you look in history this is the case. When our strength goes we will no longer be free. We will be dictated to and ruled by those stronger than ourselves. Does this mean that it is necessary to cultivate aggression and belligerence? Absolutely not! It does, however, mean that we need to cultivate in ourselves those virtues that guide a free people: courage, honor, truthfulness, responsibility, perseverance, charity, strength tempered with compassion, discrimination tempered with tolerance.
Virtue as a prerequisite for freedom
It is the very cultivation of virtue that ensures the will and ability to be a free people. A society degenerates with the loss of virtue and the high regard in which it is held. This has been the lesson of history. It is always surprising to me that the events and lessons learned from the past are so quickly forgotten. It is as if we deliberately purge them from our memory. Human history is fraught with the folly of this peculiar mechanism, yet we continue it at our peril.
“If you lose the past,” the 9th century Chinese poet Meng Jiao says, “The will easily crumbles.”
This blurring and removing of the past is a valuable tool of social architecture as is evidenced in modern China, one of many such examples in the 20th century. The misinformation and dis-information that make up so much of our current social and political agenda separates us from our past. This deliberate perversion of truth should be anathema to those who value virtue. It is anathema because those who use it seek to change the order of society with falsehoods. As warriors we do not have to go far back into history to find instances where the courage and sacrifice of a few have so benefited the whole.
“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” These words were spoken by Prime Minister Winston Churchill in reference to the debt owed by the British people to the RAF during the Battle of Britain.
The reason we are called to cultivate classical warrior skills and virtues is out of a feeling of duty to the whole of society. We prepare ourselves for those times when we may be called upon to protect and defend. Any other reason is selfish and ultimately self-destructive. Being tough and a good fighter is not in and of itself noble. For me, training in kenjutsu and related military arts prepares me to be a good citizen. It enables me to be of assistance when it is necessary to protect and defend. It teaches me self-discipline that I may moderate my behavior. I learn perseverance and courage in the face of difficulty so that I am not easily deterred. All of this adds up to the courage to live life not just for oneself but also for others. For me, teaching is giving to others what has been given to me. Like having children, it is the completion of the cycle. What a benefit it will be to society as a whole if those of us who aspire to a noble nature strive to imbue society with care, commitment, and positive action! Look out for and protect those in need! Support each other when faced with those of evil nature who would prey on the weak and defenseless!
The noblest aspects of human consciousness, our virtues, become passe ever more quickly as we find substitutes for living a life connected with the reality of our existence. The less we grow, hunt, and gather our food, the less directly involved we are in protecting ourselves and our families and nation, the more readily we lose our virtue. The less we know of and value our past, The less we honor those who, with their courage and sacrifice, have bequeathed to us our current state of freedom and plenty, the less likely we are to pass this enviable state on to those who follow us. Are we so self-absorbed that our decisions are made on the basis of our personal wants and our ease? Are we as a people so easily bought that we will sell our freedom and that of our children for comfort?
The Warrior as protector of society
The warrior protects and defends because he realizes the value of others. He knows that they are essential to society and, in his gift of service, recognizes and values theirs. This responsibility translates to children as well. When in a public bathroom, keep an eye on any children that may be in there. Even wait an extra moment or two to make sure that they are safely out of the restroom before you leave. It is an unfortunate fact that public restrooms are frequented by pedophiles and potential kidnappers. Being a father myself I feel a serious responsibility to all children and hope that other males will help look after mine when I am not present. I cannot count the number of times that I have seen nervous mothers waiting outside of a public bathroom for a young son. Make a point, even to telling the mother, that you will keep an eye on the safety of her child in an area in which she cannot go.
There are other ways in which we can be of daily use. For instance, take the extra moment in dark parking lots at night to make sure that a woman gets into her car safely before leaving yourself. Daily involvement in acts such as these are as much a part of training as time spent in the dojo, and indeed should be the reason for that time spent training.
The role and ability to protect and defend does not give the warrior-protector the right to misuse this strength and knowledge. You are not superior to nor do you have the right to take advantage of others by means of this strength and ability. If you breach this trust and your sacred responsibility then you are not a warrior-protector. Over the centuries this power has been misused all too often in societies to dominate and control others. This is the dark side of power and has no place in the life of the warrior seeking to live a life of virtue.
When faced with a woman or child in a situation in which they are vulnerable, there are two types of men: those who would offer succor and aid, and those who would prey upon them. And in modern society, there is another loathsome breed who would totally ignore their plight!
I remember the first time my friends and I read about an incident that happened in New York City where a woman was attacked and eventually killed over an extended period of time. This was in the early 1960’s, and I think the duration of the attack was 15 to 20 minutes. Neighbors in the area could hear her calls for help, however, no one had the courage to go to her aid. My friends and I were incredulous that something like this could take place in America. How could anyone, most especially men, hear a woman being murdered and not involve themselves in her defense. Many current laws actually place the person who would come to another’s aid in legal jeopardy. Is this a sign of social and psychological health in a society?
In 1977 I was teaching and competing in boxing and kick boxing and teaching women and seniors self-defense through the Institute for Better Health in Santa Rosa, California. An incident took place in Rancho Cordova, California that had a big impact on me both as a man and a martial artist. This incident was a home invasion rape and murder. A husband and wife were both home when they heard a noise in the master bedroom. The man went to investigate and was confronted by an intruder with a knife who had entered through the bedroom window. Being threatened with the knife the husband capitulated and allowed himself to be led into the front room and tied to a chair. The criminal then raped the wife in front of the husband who could do nothing but watch. After finishing with the rape, the criminal got a hammer from the garage and proceeded to beat the husband to death in front of the wife. After he had brutally killed the husband he turned the hammer on the wife leaving her for dead. The wife, who was not dead, managed to crawl out of the house where neighbors heard her mewling and came to her aid. She suffered physical and emotional scars that marred her for life.
I often wonder what would go through a man’s mind when he fails through fear and lack of training to fulfill his responsibility in such circumstances. We all have fear. That is why it is necessary to prepare, to train, to understand the part that we play in the dance of life. How much more honorable, more noble, to have engaged the assailant, even if there was slim chance for personal victory, and in doing so give your wife the opportunity to escape! Preparation for such an eventuality could have provided a better outcome for both.
In 1984, a good friend of mine, Toby Threadgill, who now teaches samurai arts in Texas, was faced with a more difficult situation. He was awakened from sleep by two men who had followed his wife home from her nursing job late one night with the intention of raping her. One held a gun to his head while the other went looking for his wife. Realizing their intent, and at the risk of his life, my friend managed to disarm the gunman by driving him through a sliding-glass door. Then confronted by the knife wielding second man he managed, although sustaining a serious wound, to disarm and incapacitate him. Although a likeable and easy going person, Toby had prepared himself mentally and physically so that when faced with a dangerous situation he had both the tools and the courage to use them. How much better the outcome!
Society becomes vulnerable to every kind of threat when men no longer feel the need to prepare themselves by acquiring skills to protect and defend society, especially women and children. When men no longer take responsibility for being male and when a sense of duty is replaced by self-concern and self-indulgence, society looses its greatest strength- the mutual caring and commitment of its citizens for each other.
Courtesy: a show of respect
Courtesy is an essential element for the warrior. It should be a defining act that can be practiced daily.
“To be a samurai is to be polite at all times.”
Chivalry frames an ideal of heroic character. It combines invincible strength and valor, justice, modesty, loyalty to superiors, courtesy to equals, compassion for the weak, and devotion to God; it is an ideal which, even if never achieved in real life, has been widely acknowledged as the highest model for emulation.
These acts of courtesy are first and foremost for yourself. The respect and care that you have for yourself can then extend to other human beings. This altruistic value and most virtues are being sacrificed to the right of the individual to every form of indulgence. And, in that very process, the individual is then pressured to conform to the mores of the current political thinking of the State.
Showing courtesy is indicative of inner strength and security as a male. Courtesy is the lubricant of a culture, and should be the hallmark of the warrior. No situation is made worse by the exercise of courtesy and many situations are made the better for it. I enjoy showing courtesy towards women in the many ways that are available. When I hold a door open for a woman or help her carry an object, it is not that I think that she is not capable of doing it for herself. I do it in recognition of her intrinsic value to society and to me. Men are respected and shown courtesy as they earn the right. This process of earning respect is an important part of its value. The word loses its meaning and value in an atmosphere where many think that respect should be given just because a person exists regardless of his actions or value to the society.
An attitude of self-concern has grown more prevalent as our lives have become easier. Risking oneself for others or for a principle is less and less common. We have become less committed to each other and have created a world in which we seemingly do not need each other to survive. Virtues such as courage, honor, and integrity even carry a stigma in some circles. The very foundations of character are under attack by those who do not understand that there is nothing noble in being human without these virtues
It is not the role of everyone to be a warrior, however, those of us who respond to this calling should train and study to be the best that we are able. The are many guides and heroes that we can look to as warriors, and not all are male. One of mine, Mother Teresa, has just recently died. I find great inspiration in her life. Here is someone who found her life purpose and lived it steadfastly and, from my standpoint, even gloriously by giving to those too wretched for others to even consider. The courage, love and selfless sense of service that she displayed should serve to inspire us all. If I can live my life while giving just one fraction of what she gave to others it will be an accomplishment.
Teaching then becomes
a means whereby we can pass on to others the knowledge and wisdom acquired from those who have preceded us. It is not about self-aggrandizement or superiority. It is not about titles and rank, or organizations or profit. Most of the time I feel that I am learning more from my students than they are learning from me. The teacher becomes the student and the student the teacher. Neither can exist without the other.
As human beings we are all different. Having different skills, strengths, or abilities does not mean that an individual does not have abilities that benefit himself and society. I shun the sameness that is a part of much of modern social theory. It is abhorrent and detracts from what makes us human. I am a large, strong male, over six feet tall and weighing over 200 pounds who has spent the majority of his adult life involved in military and combative activities, studies and training. My wife is a foot shorter and over 100 pounds lighter. We are physically suited for different tasks in life. I respect and cherish her strength and femininity. And the more so because I have been at her side, in what limited capacity a man may provide, while she bore our two children with only her courage and my meager assistance and encouragement to sustain her.
“When the choice is between cowardice and violence, I would strongly recommend violence.”
We are no longer training our children, especially our young men, to deal with pain, defeat, and discomfort with a brave heart and stoic spirit. We seem to think that by removing consequences for their actions we are actually benefiting them. They do not build true character based on trial and effort.
When there is no pain, no death, no challenge, no struggle, no adversity, and no disappointment we will lose the best part of being human. When we structure a life and society devoid of every human challenge there will be no courage, no perseverance, no honor, no compassion, no caring, and no commitment. We will have lost the best parts of who we are because we will have let our fear steal them from us. We will no longer need each other and this will be the greatest tragedy.
Being a warrior means being committed to making the ultimate sacrifice and also committing the ultimate act. The gentleman warrior must take responsibility for his actions and use his power for the good of society and his fellow human beings. As the old samurai saying goes, “To kill when it is right to kill and to die when it is right to die!” In a similar vein, the code of the Sumerian warrior-king stated that he was to act as the shepherd of his people. The role of the warrior as a stabilizing influence in civilized society and protector of the weak is as old as civilization itself.
Sparta vs. Greece
Many, women more often than men, feel that being a warrior means being an oppressor. History, however, does not necessarily bear out this idea. In Sparta, the strongest warrior culture that the Greeks produced, the woman had the most freedom of any Grecian woman of the time. The women, received much the same education as the young men, and shared a life with their men far closer than did the women of Athens.
In sexual matters, the Spartans, true to their nature, seem to have had the highest rate of monogamy in all of Greece. They held their woman in high esteem and Spartan women had greater equality than their Grecian sisters who were treated according to the more Oriental standards towards women of the rest of Greece.
The Spartans were also renowned for their virtue and being the most pious of all Greeks. There is a story told by Plutarch about the Spartans at one of the Olympiads. In the crowded throng at the Olympic games, an old man was looking in vain for a seat from which to watch the events. His stumbling attempts to find one were noticed by many Greeks from other states, who mocked him for his age and difficulty in finding a seat. When, however, he came to the section where the Spartans were seated, every man among them rose to his feet and offered him their seats. Somewhat abashed, but nevertheless admiringly, the other Greeks applauded them for their behavior. “Ah,” the old man is reported to have said with a sigh, “I see what it is. All Greeks know what is right, but only the Spartans do it.'”
Woman also fared well in other warrior societies. Viking woman owned their own property and could divorce their husbands if they were mistreated. The Celts of Britannia often had women as rulers and many tribes were matriarchal. It is false to think that because men are warriors that it follows that they look down on women.
Peace and pacifism are not congruent with each other. Albert Einstein realized the 1930’s that his pacifistic approach to Nazi Germany would not work.
“He experienced that the ultimate ethical values, on which all human existence is based, must, as a last resort, be defended even by force and with the sacrifice of human lives…”
Max Born on Albert Einstein’s realizations prior to the Second World War.
How can we forget the courage and sacrifice of those that have gone before us in providing us with freedom and plenty. How can we not take up the torch to provide this same freedom to those who come after. We should honor all who have given of themselves with the ultimate sacrifice that provides us with what we not enjoy, even if this sacrifice was long ago and far away.
“Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that here, according to her laws we lie.”
Epitaph written by the poet Simonides at the ancient monument celebrating Spartan courage and sacrifice at Thermopylae that was instrumental in holding off the Persians under Xerxes and preserving the concept of democracy for the world to come.
Virtue must be taught and practiced; it must be nurtured and passed to each generation. Freedom must be taught and practiced as well. If not, it easily perishes. Virtue and freedom go hand in hand. Not to cherish the one is not to cherish the other. A society that looses the warriors’ virtues is the poorer for it and will soon be a society whose freedoms are lost. The male has a genetic prime directive-a service to life-to protect and defend. In this service he is historically more expendable than the female and the children. Every man is responsible for defending every woman and every child When the male no longer assumes this role, when he no longer has the courage or moral responsibility, society will cease to value honor and virtue. Neither laws nor government can replace this personal caring and commitment. In the absence of the warrior-protector, the only way that a government can protect a society is to remove the freedom of its people. And in such a society, the sons and daughters of lions become sheep.