Posts Tagged ‘social media’

I was no joy to my parents as a teenager.  Sitting on the cusp of adulthood I caused them more consternation than the American average of the time.  I had all the normal faults of the common American teen born in the 1970’s who came of age in the 1980’s.  I was shallow, egotistical, conceited, hormonal, defiant, volatile, and knew all there was to know about the world around me; after all everything around me revolved around me so how could I not be the master of it?  Despite pushing the excellence bar a little higher on the teenage grandmaster scale to new levels for the typical teenage asshole, my parents did a pretty good job of laying a foundation for what I hope has turned me into a pretty decent human being.  As I look back at this advanced age I have achieved (an age 25 or 30 years ago I had no interest or care in achieving), they had force-fed me respect from an early age (even for those who did not deserve it), they beat into me (literally at times) the concepts of right and wrong, made me understand humility even if I did not practice it, but most of all they gave me the freedom to make my own choices and accept responsibility for making them, good and bad.

I have a teenage son, sitting on the cusp of legal adulthood (in our great state here in the South, he is actually considered an adult for many of the legal ramifications associated with the modern teen), and poised to take my exceptional attempts at life ruining decisions to an unprecedented level.  My concern of course is for my own child and his sister who will be a teenager in just a few years, but, as my wife and I have discussed many times, there is a level of sociopathic behavior present in today’s modern teen that was just not there when we were the same age.  Consequence is of no consequence.  Penalties are something to be paid when caught, but being caught is because the system is screwed up.  Personal responsibility is in short supply and it is just not a fair world.  Today’s teens who have grown up in the “everyone is a winner” world are used to being rewarded for simply showing up and any lack of recognition for making it to where they are supposed to be results in depression, anxiety, and the chemical cocktails that are expected to be prescribed by doctors and governmental systems who think there is a solution in dependence, rather than personal responsibility.

Before going on I do want to make sure that I do not paint my son in the wrong light and to make sure that I do not try to categorize all teens in this day and age as the current sociopath and the next serial killer to be portrayed on Criminal Minds.  My son for the most part has managed to devote the majority of his angst and other bullshit towards his parental units, occasionally (too often for my wife and me), he focuses the cruelty that is teendom at his little sister.  Despite these attempts he has demonstrated many great qualities that give his mother and me a little light in an otherwise murky world and that we have not failed despite his attempts to prove to us otherwise.  He understands that he has to stick up for the little guy; he hates bullies despite demonstrating that quality himself sometimes, something all of us have gone through.  He understands service and the need for it despite often times feeling he is above it.  Despite his current anger and disdain for the military for keeping m gone for so many years, he is very patriotic and respects veterans and their sacrifices.  I have no doubt in my mind that if presented with a situation in which someone was in physical danger that he would place himself in harms way in order to save them (especially his sister) and that he would do so with little or no thought as to how it would affect him.  Externally from our little nuclear family, we have few issues with interactions once we exclude some of his friendships from the equation.

As I prepare to put one career behind me after over 20 years, I have seen many things in the world that have taken me beyond the orbit of me time and again.  Some things have been horrible while others yet have been simply wondrous, I have seen my fellow humans at their absolute worst and others have committed acts that could border on Sainthood if you believe in such things, I have seen simple, innocuous acts have life altering consequences, both good and bad.  I have learned some lessons, some the extremely hard way while others have just simply made their way into my thoughts without my even knowing they were there until it came time to pass them on.  Here are a few that I hope my son takes to heart and maybe, just maybe can help someone else who may be focusing their considerable energies in the wrong direction.

1.  Everyone will disappoint you at some time.

We are after all human beings.  We are not perfect despite our efforts to seem so. I have had mentors and people I have looked up to in both my personal and professional lives crash and burn before my eyes.  For many years I dismissed them as failures and wrote them off.  Later in life when I realized I was delving into dark reaches in my own psyche, I had to reflect upon how readily I could dismiss someone for being human and temper that disappointment.  I looked up to them for some reason and I was obviously not taking their lessons to heart if I would so readily dismiss them from my life. They are only human after all and we all have faults that go along with our better qualities.  In my line of work it is all too easy to develop demons that go beyond our normal character traits and flaws, as a leader of men it is incumbent upon me, an innate responsibility, that I have to be there for them when they are at their worst.

2. With great power comes great responsibility.

Even our comic book heroes falter, when things seem at their worst and they somehow overcome their nemesis they are still sacrificing something in order to achieve the objective.  At some point in our lives we are faced with situations that will call in to question our abilities to make a decision that will not fracture us legally, morally, ethically, spiritually, or simply harm our humanity.  Every day we hear stories of police, fire, military, or other service oriented occupations and the situations they are faced with and make the easy decision to label them as heroes for their actions.  Sometimes these actions are accomplished without thought, they are simply part of their fiber, other times it moves beyond the instinctual and they must process and make a decision, at which time we either celebrate or venerate them pending the outcome.  Those are decisions they have to live with and suffer the demons of.  Making heroic or difficult decisions does not just reside in the service sector.  It is the parent who has to decide when they must involve the authorities to help with their child’s behavior.  It is the teacher who knows that a student is suffering abuse at the hands of someone else and must decide what to do with it.  It is the coach that must develop both the person (or people) as well as their abilities (or lack of them).  It is the friend who sees the patterns of concern developing who must decide what role they will play in helping their friend resolve them, even at the cost of the friendship.

3. Love disappoints.

True love never disappoints, but that does not mean that you will never feel pain because of it.  There is love the emotion, and there is a deeper love, the kind that makes a connection.  Even when we are no longer with that person, or they are no longer with us, that connection is still there.  We may look back at them with fondness or disdain, but they have touched us indelibly.  My wife and I have that kind of love.  Even at our worst, and we made ourselves pretty bad at one point, we found the strength to come back because we had that kind of connection.  I have had many friends in the Army that I have loved like family.  We put ourselves through hell and helped each other get to where we needed to be.  Some of those have drifted away yet others are no more.  The former is with little fanfare, the latter generally comes with the real pain of loss and no few number of tears.  Love the emotion disappoints, but the love that forges a connection never, ever disappoints.

4. Seasons change.

Our planet revolves around the sun in a scientifically  proven time period bringing with it the somewhat predictable changing of the seasonal cycles.  Much like Mother Earth, our lives have certain cycles to them.  Unlike the changing of the seasons, we as humans are not quite so predictable, but it is within our power to change our personal seasons.  We have highs and lows, get in ruts and break our way free.  Sometimes the changes are gradual and unnoticeable, other times they are extreme and radical, taking full conscious effort and strength of will.  Regardless, changing our personal seasons are within our own power.  We may need to seek assistance at times, and at others we may be able to go it alone.  It can be scary or it can be an adventure.  It is a matter of perspective and it more often than not requires a degree of self awareness that we do not possess on a day to day basis, but get better at as we get older and start to recognize our own behaviors.  In the end, the power to break a cycle resides within us, it is simply a matter of whether or not we are willing to take the chance in changing it and accept the consequences of it when we do.

5.  Fear is an emotion not a way of life.

Confusing topic for many teens in this day and age.  Things are so radically different than when I was just a kid.  We as parents are on our children like hawks.  The media, both the fourth estate and social, present us as parents with a staggering array of scary topics each and every day.  We see a staggering sum of bad things that happen to children of all ages.  Kidnapping, murders, bullying, drugs, sex, gangs, stupid danger games, suicide are just a few examples of the fear-mongering we are presented with on a daily basis.  We often lose track of the fact that they are there to pimp their professions and that they cannot make a name for themselves if their topic is not front and center in the degeneration of our society.  The best way to do that is to hit us right where it hurts and make us think of our own children.  We as adults are overwhelmed when we should know better and at times make adjustments as a reaction to that fear.  We seldom take into account how those changes affect our children.  Many times we live in that fear and forget that the nature of the human spirit is dangerous in and of itself and as children we were not born with fear of things we learned it as hard lessons.  We had to break a bone, get bitten or have a near-death experience in order to achieve it.  We were also taught it innately by those who were responsible for us.  Children are blank slates that we can indelibly mark up with our own fears and biases, they are not born with fear or hate, yet somehow it manages to manifest us.  If there is anything we as parents should be fearful of as a way of life it is that we need to be aware that our children mimic us, our good qualities and bad.

6.  Both the good and bad that we do can and will follow us through life.

Actions have consequences.  Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are bad.  Sometimes when they are bad enough, they will attach themselves to you for the rest of your life.  Sometimes they will not allow you to achieve your dreams.  Despite this we live in the real world not a world of dreams.  The most fortunate enough of us get to live out their dreams and for them it is their responsibility what they do with it, be good or turn into a nightmare.  The rest of us still have to contribute.  Sometimes that may mean settling and not doing something that makes you happy, sometimes that means a little introspection and making your own happiness.  No matter we are the sum of the whole of our lives up to the point we are in right at this moment and we are adding to it each and every moment we are alive.  It is up to us if we let our past define us or we define ourselves.  It is no one’s fault but our own the decisions we made in the past and what we do when confronted with them later in life.

I am not one for regrets in my life.  I have not spent the time with my son that maybe I should have.  For the most part this has been a result of my career choice.  There have been times when I have spent time with him that it was probably not been of the quality that it should have been, that he deserved.  He is equal parts of my wife and I and most of the times those parts are readily identifiable, they are what bring us both joy and drive us crazy about each other.  I have however, done my best to provide him with the tools for a successful life.  At times this has been without his knowledge just simply planting a seed and hoping it germinates, at others it has been with all force possible, just to see it discarded on the floor and hoping that he remembers where it is when he needs it most.  No matter, I hope when it matters most that he understands #3 above and recognizes that we are a connection and that I cannot fathom anything that will ever change that.  We can be the best of buds or eternally estranged, from the moment he was whisked away from Womack Army Medical Center in a Blackhawk to be placed in the NICU at Cape Fear, at just a couple hours old, right up until present and the foreseeable future, we are connected, he is loved.

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So I am going to forgo the fact that our powdered wig wearing Forefathers would have been appalled that there are citizens of this great nation who can waste their money on an I-phone while forgoing the basic necessities in life like, decent housing, food for their children or the ability to pay their other bills in lieu of the ability to remain connected 24/7/365.  Let us also put aside the fact that the 1st Continental Congress and the representative leadership of the country prior to succession of hostilities and the surrender of General Cornwallis wrote most of their wise words anonymously and under pseudonym and would have definitely balked at posting their picture as an avatar in order to be taken seriously, not to mention having to check in with their location and tagging all their rebellious friends in a group photo.

Way back in the good old days of our country we did not have the instant connectivity that has invaded our lives today.  Back when the Declaration of Independence was finally signed, official copies of it were sent out by dispatch and read aloud to the gathered crowds in town squares all across the land.  Each and every person present was read the exact same thing as all the others across the 13 states.  Retweeting was accomplished by the local printer and handed out via hard copy to those who could read.  Imagine how much simpler it would have been to accomplish a revolution using some collaborative tools, whipping up a power point of key facts,  cutting and pasting it all into a nice neatly formatted document (Olde English font of course for authenticity) and publishing it up to www. yeolderevolution.gov (pretty sure I just made this up, but truth in lending I did not check).  Combine that with a viral video and sharing on Facebook, and we may have been successful before the British had known what was happening.

Imagine how easy it would have been for Paul Revere and his poor tired horse if he could have just Tweeted out that the British were coming, then another to say where he saw them and another as to where they were going.  That whole “one if by land, two if by sea” thing would have been an unnecessary risk and chances are he would not have been arrested that evening as well.

Instead of waxing eloquently as the Widow Silence Dogood, Ben Franklin could have blogged out instantly his thoughts on country and leadership and the rights of man (of course he would update that for the medium he was using and been much more politically correct).  He could have held honest discourse and been able to respond to remarks on his blogs, kicked off the trolls and leveraged his celebrity to a spot as a talking head on one of the 24 hour news outlets.

George Washington and his Continental Army could have waged a major psyops campaign leveraging social networking technology.  Imagine a few good videos going viral of the guerilla warfare waged by Francis Marion down in the Carolinas.  Or, how much more effective his staff would have been coordinating attacks with Power Point and video teleconferencing.  Of course he would have to exert some draconian measures as there will always be someone who wants to pose for a pic with the body of a dead Red Coat.  That is nothing compared to the embarrassment of giving one of your Generals (Benedict Arnold for those of you who like to quote the FF’s but know absolutely nothing about our history) unfettered access to your secure files and he turns them over to the enemy while handing them the keys to one of your forts as well.

Long before the advent of the internet, social media and the ever-present, ever-sensational 24 hour news networks we had people that could inspire us with their words.  Words they backed up with deeds.  They provided leadership at a time when we had none.  They grew a nation of free Americans from a populace subjugated by a monarchy and its representative corporations.  They spoke through word, printed under anonymity until such a time when they had to show themselves to the people.  In their day, our Founding Fathers were the Anonymous of the time.  They saw what was believed to be wrong and acted out upon it.  When felt unfairly taxed, they stole away in the middle of the night and dumped the commodity in the sea.  When faced with violence from soldiers who would be quartered among the populace without their consent, they rose up and fought back.

Our Founding Fathers would not have been the men that we often misquote today if social media were available to them.  Their eloquent words would not have inspired a generation and it they would not have provided us with a foundation of principles.  The only sweeping and all encompassing reform they were willing to stand behind and risk their lives for was revolution.  They knew and understood from the point of declaring our independence it would require  concise, incremental change as the problems arose.  They did not stand up to create a utopia for the world to emulate, they wished to create something that our own citizens would both embrace and emulate for as long as we are a sovereign nation.  My personal opinion is that they would be mortified to know that there are whole segments of law and education dedicated to interpreting their words some 230+ years after they spoke them rather than giving voice to their own voices and inspiring our people to achieve greater than we have.  We have taken opportunity provided by the blood of patriots inspired by the words of leaders and squandered the opportunities.

I would like to end with a few quotes from Edmund Burke :

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion

To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting

Try to come up those quotes today and put them into the colloquialisms that are present.  Take those new words and use them on your favorite social networking site, but do so with the intent of effecting change rather than just running off at the mouth.  Be prepared for the consequences of your actions.  It is our right as Americans to determine our own destinies, but with that comes the risk of upsetting the apple cart.  A successful outcome as a result of that upset does not absolve you from the consequences of doing so, but good for good sake is its own reward when you know you have done so for the betterment of all.  After all in the words of the immortal Mark Twain:

Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

 

 

So, after taking a little time off to move mi familia to our dream home in the mountains, I decided not to make any commentary on the latest government scandal and alleged violation of our collective civil rights until I was back at my little hovel and I could spend a little time gauging the sentiment on the matter.  It seem that Ed Snowden is doing what he can to keep his name in the media spotlight and all the back room Constitutional scholars are helping him right along.

So, just a little summary of events before I go on.  Ed Snowden, a CONTRACTOR of dubious distinction decides one day that he allegedly cannot live with what he believes to be a violation of our collective civil rights due to a government program called Prism that sucks in everything electronic floating out in the ether and the American government can see it and use it against you.  Snowden was labeled a “whistle blower” as he high-tailed it out to good old Hong Kong and begins to spill secrets to the press.  Along the way he praises traitorous Army Private Bradley Manning for his Wiki Leaks actions and seems to have some trouble verifying his own personal bona fides.

Along the way we have been inundated with the usual rallying behind the Constitution and 250 year old quotes from people for whom terms such as Internet Protocol, cellular device, Verizon, AT&T, NSA, CIA, DIA, DHS and a thousand other terms were in no way part of their lexicon.  These gladiators of Constitutional defense are quick to quote the many white guys in power who wrote the document that serves as the core of our Republic all the while espousing the fall of our Democracy when they are too stupid to realize we do not, and we have never lived in one.  We live in a Constitutional Republic which uses the Democratic process to choose our leaders.

Snowden, praised as a “whistle blower” is no where near close to the dignity that term deserves.  He is a cowardly traitor pure and simple.  A whistle blower is one who stands their ground to right a wrong, an institutional deficiency.  They stay where they are and bring to light the wrongs and help others to face the wrongs that have been perpetrated against them.  They, despite the obstacles in front of them and the harm it may cause them, do not run to the land of one of our international rivals and begin to share the secrets they swore to protect.  Hong Kong, by the way, is a semi-autonomous free trade zone in China, a country that has been proven over and over again in the last five years to be behind numerous state sanctioned cyber attacks in our borders over the last five years.  Snowden is not so noble to be a whistle blower, he is a traitor pure and simple.

Why is he a traitor and not a spy?  If he were a spy then at least he would be doing his damage on behalf of a country.  This would be disappointing and hurtful, but at least there is some sort of ideology behind that.  He is a traitor because he worked himself into a position in which he was entrusted with a certain amount of secrets and the responsibility that encompasses.  He willfully violated that trust and ran because as he alleges he was too scared of going to jail for what he believed to be wrong.  It is cowardly, weak, and undermines the good works that are done by others in similar positions who have more integrity and legitimately do so with the best interests of the country in mind.

So, after all the yapping this shit bird has done over the last week and a half, I am still not sure what this uber-program does that the loudmouths are complaining is violating my privacy and yours.  What I do know is that the majority of us have willfully given up our privacy on many fronts and have been doing so for quite a few years now.  Don’t believe me then let me list the ways that we fail to add personal protection to our electronic media on a daily basis:

1. Social Media – take a look at your privacy settings on your favorite social media application.  Dig a little deeper on to your news feed and look at all the pertinent information that can be mined from your friends based on their posting: location information, time, family members and friends tagged in photos, their friends, your opinions, likes, hobbies, possibly phone numbers.  All sorts of information that can be gleaned and used to “social engineer” a friendship with you that can be used for nefarious purposes.

2. Cell/Smartphones – everyone loves their Android or I phone, yet they never question all the information that is being sent back to the manufacturers and service providers that you know absolutely nothing about.  GPS information, contacts, numbers called/received, do you back-up to the cloud or save your information on your own computer? Try to use your phone internationally and see how many spam texts you get carrying malicious code in them.  Register on a foreign carriers network and complain to them when they turn over to their law enforcement the fact that a US phone has registered on the network and where it is located.  Try and argue privacy in some European countries, I dare you.

3. Digital Images – down load one of the many free exif viewers out there on the web, drop a photo from your phone or digital camera and take a gander at the amount of information contained in that photo that has nothing to do with the selfie of your jiggly bits in the bathroom mirror.  That is what your spouse’s divorce attorney is going to have done when you try to tell them that photo was for them and you were not meeting your little piece on the side.

4.  Social Media (again) – pull up your favorite search engine and do a search for some products that you would never look for normally.  Go back to your Facebook page take a look at the right side of your feed and tell me what kind of advertisements you see.  In just a very short while, you will see ads for some of those very same goods and services you were just Googling.  Magic?  I think not, do a little search on Smart DNS and see what you find.

So why all this publicly searchable information?  Because there is nothing noble or good about running away to a country that will most likely be an enemy of our in some way, shape or form in the future; at a minimum they will be an adversary to be wary of, actually, they already are.  Because we willfully and gladly give up our privacy each and every day to keep our tweets tweeting and our “selfies” stored in the public domain for all eternity.  At worst the big GOV is doing nothing more than anyone of us can do with a bunch of freeware and time.  The difference being we as individuals are innately more prone to do so with nefarious intent and I would like to think that if the GOV is doing it they are doing so with the intent of keeping us safe.  Do I like the fact that Uncle can take a peak at what my porn watching habits are? No.  But it is a little more palatable for me knowing that I am one of many people who puts their information out in the public domain, willingly so even though I try and take a little more precaution that the average user.  When it comes to Uncle, it is damned if you do, damned if you don’t.  If the possibility is there and they do not do it and there is another horrific attack like 9/11 then there will be public crucifixions on a biblical scale.  If there is never another attack like that again they will get crucified for violating a privacy that we willingly violate on our own anyway.

In today’s world, many service members get the impression that just because they have access to a social media venue that they have the right to say whatever the hell they want.  Since the Global War on Terror began way back in 2001, all the military services have striven to capitalize on the available of high-bandwidth solutions across the globe in order to provide themselves with the ability to move intelligence and time sensitive information into the hands of those who need it and whenever possible when they need it most.  A by-product of this has been an increasing level of connectivity of the warfighters to their families, thousands of miles away.  As a military communicator, I can tell you that at times, the warfighting effort has suffered due to the misapplication of bandwidth towards morale, welfare and recreation activities.

Along with all the means of connectivity provided us from forward locations, there has been a weakening of the enforcement of what is and what is not acceptable to post on your personal media accounts.  Just a few years ago my little foray into blogging would have given me fits at work.  I would have needed approval from someone in authority to post this blog and probably would not be able to mention the military or my involvement at all.  While I try to speak of anything of a military nature in the most general of terms, I also make a conscious effort not violate the sanctity of posting about issues that affect me at work.  You should not air your dirty laundry, that is sensationalism and if you are attempting to prove a point, you will more than likely undermine your efforts by bringing something to a public forum that has no bearing on the issue at hand.

There have been a rash of violations in recent years that have resulted in service members being punished for violating policies when it comes to social media and overall internet usage in general.  There have been several times people have been given non-judicial punishment (an Article 15, or non-courtmartial offense) for posting the death of a comrade before the next of kin has been notified. In my opinion, this is one of the most egregious violations that can be made.  It is hard enough for next of kin to hear the news by those who are tasked with such an important service, never mind seeing it on someone’s FaceBook status.  Various other violations have happened as well.  Basically, if there is something you can do on a social media service, it has been done to the detriment of someone’s pay and possibly their rank.  On the extreme end of things we have someone like Bradley Manning (I refuse to call him by his rank) who has taken it upon his vastly experienced self to let the world know the horror that is the War on Terror and the atrocities that have been committed by releasing several hundreds of thousands of classified documents and videos to WikiLeaks, the electronic watchdog of the collective social conscious of an otherwise humane world.

Today we can move to the case of Marine Sergeant Gary Stein and the issue that the Marine Corps is currently wrestling with; can the service censor or order Stein to remove himself from a Facebook page he started and comments he has made against President Obama, or, will it be a violation of his 1st Amendment rights.  Also in question are what rights are service members accorded and when can they make statements as a military member, but not as a military member.  Confusing, yes it is, but I will try to explain, caveating this with, as a person from an older generation of service members, I may have an opinion that has changed or morphed from what was acceptable when I entered service oh, so many years ago.

As I get closer to the 20 year mark in my career, I can see why the military sets it as the first benchmark for retirement.  There are, and have always been, generational differences that happen as new soldiers enter service and the older ones begin to leave.  Technology changes, policy changes, world changes all play a part in the span of a career.  When I came in the Army in 1993, the US was transitioning from a Cold War mentality to one of global policing.  Having moved through the ranks in the years since then, we transitioned even further to a lighter, global terrorism fighting force still capable of fighting a known nation-state, yet struggling early on to shift our procedures to adapt to our mobile, less technologically advanced enemy.  As I get closer and closer to the year I will retire, 2 to 4 years from now, I realize the burden of change for the next generation of leaders will be to deal with the continuing burden of technology and the positives and negatives that arise from a force having so much electronic access.

As someone who grew up in a military that was tasked with supporting and defending the Constitution, we were not exactly blessed with all the rights afforded civilians by it.  I mean we have our own set of laws, the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and there are only two routes of appeal if you feel you have been wrongly convicted of a crime by a General Court Martial.  you first would go to the US Court of Military Appeals and as a last resort could petition the US Supreme Court.  That is it.  The fact of the matter is however, we as a military are becoming more and more accepting of an off-duty frame of mind which seems to allow us to separate ourselves from our contractual obligations.  This includes what service members are allowed to do in their personal time, including posting remarks that directly condemn the man you were sworn to follow the orders of.  Make no mistake, I do not have anything against speaking out when you feel a policy is wrong, as long as you can provide an alternative solution to the problem, otherwise you are doing nothing bu bitching.  I draw the line when you say you will not follow the orders of the man (maybe woman one day), then rethink your position and amend your statement to one you believe is”unlawful”.  When it comes down to your place on the battlefield SGT Stein, the order has been through enough hands and amendments, that it should not be up to you to decide whether or not the order is legal or not.  Should you choose not to follow it, you would be disobeying an order in contradiction to your oath of enlistment and the UCMJ.  When it comes to Sergeants, we decide what is legal or illegal as it is happening in front of us, I don’t know, like maybe some of your colleagues pissing on dead enemy combatants while someone films it, or the crimes against detainees at Abu Ghraib prison.  Those are issues you can have a direct effect upon, not the decision of national level leaders, who by the way is your Commander in Chief.

A couple of us were discussing a topic similar to the last statement made just the other day.  The consensus was, while none of us may have agreed with most or any of his political policies, we do not blame him for everything that has happened over the last four years.  That would make us no better than the people who spent all the time blaming everything on Bush when it takes just a little research to realize the truth.  The bottom line is we volunteered for our duty, some of us stay with it because it is a calling, but we all give up some freedoms in our volunteerism because it is required in order to maintain the good order and discipline needed to sustain a professional fighting force.  You cannot compare what is afforded the civilian populace with what is afforded military members.  The rules are different and the results of violating them are harsher and quicker to come to fruition.  That is a by-product of having the guns, we need a swifter resolution to our violations of the sacred trust of protecting the population.  When we do not represent our services, our country and the people of it in a respectful manner, there needs to be consequences that are representative of both our ideals of a country and the discipline we violated as a member of the service we represent.  Military members live within the framework of the Constitution, but are not strictly held to it, our code of laws should be enough to address the issues at hand.

So any future Sgt Steins or Bradley Mannings out there, think of your freedoms and the ability to use them like spandex; just because they make it in large sizes does not mean you should actually wear it.  Just because you are offered the ability to use Facebook or Twitter or some other to be named social media service and you have a difference of opinion with someone who has given you an order, does not mean that you should air that grievance and remember, you are not the final authority as to what is legal for you to say or not, everyone has a leader at every level, right up to the Commander in Chief and he answers to a body of people too.

Okay, I am going to try and use a little bit of humor to make a bit of a point and show a bit of my geekier side while I am at it.  Anyone who is familiar with the show ‘Big Bang Theory’ on CBS and now in syndication will understand why I use the name of Wil Wheaton.  The actor who plays himself periodically on the show is the nemesis of one of the main characters called Sheldon.  Each and every time they come across each other, Sheldon, for all his self-professed intellectual superiority over mere mortals, succumbs to the deceit and guile of Mr. Wheaton.  No matter what the contest, Wheaton is able to get under Sheldon’s skin and essentially own him.  I have no idea what type of person Wil Wheaton is in real life, but I love the character he has created himself to be on the show and can only imagine the ways he will continue to maintain control over Sheldon in future episodes and what other contests he may defeat him in due to this ability.

All humor aside, we all have our personal Wil Wheatons.  It may be a person, an event or activity, or something else that we just have an enduring inability to break the shackles of in order to overcome it.  For some people, even more so in this day and age, it is the bully.  The presence of the bully no longer gives children from the schoolyard a brief respite each evening.  Social networking and the internet have extended the reach beyond the wedgie or having a swirly pulled on you; online threats, vicious video attacks, publishing of pictures and other means too numerous to mention are just a mouse click away.  Kids who had the safety of being home and away from their nemesis are now haunted by them through the ether as well.

The nemesis is not just restricted to the bully either.  The perpetual second-placer, the guy or gal who always gets the credit or the promotion at work, for some people it is whoever ends up in the life of the significant ex and with their children.  When it comes to events or activities, I do not mean phobias or irrational fears.  The high-pitched squeal and rapid breathing I get when I am surprised by a slithery snake in no way precludes me from lopping its head off; just ask the green mamba who flopped around with no direction trying to re-attached its body to its head one dark Nigerian night.  What I mean is that activity or event, that no matter how much you train or seek to kick its ass, you just cannot clear your mind of your prior failures at it in order to conquer it and whoop up on its ass.

Sometimes our WW’s (shortened for brevity) are substantial in appearance and significance.  Other times they really have no great bearing on how we lead our lives other than it is a milestone that cannot be overcome.  One thing is for certain, whether it be a person place, thing or idea, it is a significant impact on ourselves, each and every time we are faced with it.  It is easier said than done to just look across the table and just say “screw it” (or more vulgar as the situation may dictate) to the situation as it begins to crawl up under your dome, but it is no less the truth that you will not move on until you are able to.

We all have our reasons for why we are affected the way we are by things, that is just the way that it is.  I was probably equal parts bully and bullied throughout my childhood career.  As I have grown older and experienced the utter cruelties available to people in this big, wide world of ours I have come to understand that control is no less significant at the individual level as it is on a state or country wide level.  Good, bad or indifferent it is not until you can turn to your Wil Wheaton and scream !@$% YOU!!! that you will begin to throw off the shackles in your mind holding you back.  What you need to realize is that you still might not succeed!  That is just the nature of the beast, but at least you can “not succeed” with a true 100% effort, mind, body and soul, not because you got your ass kicked before you ever began.  There is more merit in the old adage “better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all” than most people can ever truly appreciate.  It is still a bitter pill to swallow, but it is at least your pill.