Seek the truth it will set you free

I was minding my own business doing research on the players in the biggest political scandal in our nation’s history. What an ugly and divisive event this has been for our country. While looking over my notes I opened the web browser to search for something. Facebook was on the open tab and staring me right in the kisser was a big picture of an aging Jane Fonda. There was a sigh. There was a lengthy message accompanying the photo and I knew parts of it were bogus. Many of us accept without much question everything we read on Facebook as we do with media news and commentary. We’ll accept it more readily if it’s negative toward someone to whom we already have an aversion. The Internet is a wonderful tool, but it’s made us lazy headline readers and victims of search engines leading our attempts at research. It also worsens our national attention deficit disorder. Instead of sticking to what I was doing, I felt compelled to add at least one bit of truth to Ms. Fonda’s Facebook spread. I added her quote about communism:

If you understood what communism was, you would hope, you would pray on your knees that we would someday become communist. . .. I, a socialist, think that we should strive toward a socialist society, all the way to communism. – Jane Fonda

Back in 2000, while trying to sell a book, she presented sorrowful for her excursions with the North Vietnamese. I wrote a letter explaining that there are better places to begin making amends than the Oprah show. If in fact it was her aim to make amends. Over the years, however, she’s only appeared apologetic for taking a picture with North Vietnamese soldiers perched on an anti-aircraft gun.

After I posted to Facebook her views on communism, a Fonda apologist responded. It should not have surprised me. Not long ago, after reading about John Kerry trying to derail or prevent talks between the Trump administration and the Palestinians, I thought I’d remind people about who John Kerry is. An angry Kerry apologist responded, quite incoherently I might add. It’s interesting how all of them use the same tact. They build a strawman and commence pounding the snot out of him while attacking your character and everything for which they believe you stand. Yet, in all their zeal they never acknowledge they don’t know you from Adam and never ever address facts presented. They just spew illogical hatred. And just as you see and hear the yapping heads on television or radio, they will never let you have the last word. If it was possible to filibuster in print, they would. Maybe it is some type of psychosis which, unless I am familiar with the sender, is why I rarely respond to comments or emails. However, while defending the Jane Fonda’s and John Kerry’s of our world they forget what’s most important. Time passes, views may soften, and there is always generational ignorance of the truth, but the truth remains the truth. And the documented truth is these two individuals betrayed our military members serving in Vietnam, betrayed our country, and collaborated with our enemy.

According to the Fonda apologist my Dear Jane letter is just more garbage and I am harboring anger over something that happened nearly 50 years ago. I am also a lost soul trapped in my sin of anger. I guess she told me. It may come as a shock to her and like-minded others, but I am not an angry person. I am not angry at Jane. Rather I pity her as I pity anyone who cannot look or think through their malignant hatred and deeply ingrained biases to see the greatness of this country. I especially pity the self-loathing and those who, because of the opportunities our country provides, have lived privileged lives yet want to change the country to conform to an ideology or form of government that would ensure no one else can ever raise their life’s status. Life’s hard lessons taught me that harboring anger and hatred sucks the life right out of you. We need to let go of it. But letting go of hatred does not mean that I or anyone should ever let go of the truth or allow it to be buried beneath misinformation or incoherent rage. As a people, we’ll certainly fair better when we accept the truth and move on.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

Nowadays, it is quite difficult to have civil discussion. Angry people hold to arguments made up out of whole cloth. They either lack knowledge of facts or they simply accept a storyline that plays to their emotional state. A story that justifies hatred held for a person or group. Sadly, our country’s major media are the greatest purveyors of the slanted stories and the hatred. Some have morphed into around the clock hate machines. It is our nation’s greatest abuse of hard won freedom.

Humans are fallible. Not a single one of us is perfect. All of us have something in our past for which we wished we could have a do over. I suspect most of us could not endure the scrutiny and hatred directed at our President. His supporters are deplorable, they smell, they’re Nazis, they’re stupid and it goes on and on and most of it coming from other politicians, employees of the federal government and the news media. With all of our human failings, we have the audacity to stand in judgment of people we’ve never met or engaged in conversations. We’ve turned into a fairly pathetic lot. We long ago stopped seeking the truth. It is only the hard and unbridled truth that doesn’t always agree with our worldviews that will set us free.

© 2018 J. D. Pendry J. D. Pendry’s American Journal

What happened to our country? These are not our values. This isn’t who we are.

I think I’ve figured it out. There’s multiple Americas. I don’t mean North, Central and South. I mean multiple US of As. What other explanation could there possibly be. When I hear a windblown politician, a television yakking head, or the wholly ignorant in the streets making these comments I think: That’s exactly what should be happening in our country! That is exactly what I value. That is exactly who I am. So, here we rest our weary hearts and minds. In a standoff across an ever-widening abyss. An abyss of wayward ideologies, ignorance, directionless baseless hatred, stupidity… multiple Americas.

As they like to declare over there in East Virginia, let me be clear. There are rational people who consider themselves either liberal or conservative. There are irrational people who are used as a broad brush to categorize them all. Not every liberal is a progressive socialist. Not every conservative is a white supremacist. There are conservatives more liberal than self-identified liberals. There are liberals more conservative than self-identified conservatives. I would say the same about self-identified Democrats and Republicans except with each passing day, that nom de plume is becoming more meaningless.

One America has become irrelevant. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is irrelevant. Our Constitution is only relevant to the extent we can get enough judges to declare it means whatever we want it to mean. What’s relevant is political power at all costs. What’s not relevant is loyalty to our country, knowledge and acceptance of our history including the good, bad and ugly, understanding American Exceptionalism – the only country ever founded on the precept of individual liberty, and basic knowledge of how the branches of our government are supposed to function.

Own up to it, the world’s most powerful country, we are no longer a unified like-minded people. Like minded in the importance of liberty that is. Nope. We are a color, an ethnicity, a religion, a gender, a hyphenated American, a sexual orientation, pro-life, pro-abortion. We are you name it – everything except freedom loving Americans. Guardians of freedom. We hear about the unfairness of capitalism by people who’ve become wealthy because of capitalism. We hear of the virtues of Socialism and Communism minus their world scourge from the already wealthy or the ignorant.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Washington is filled with people who forgot their purpose is service. Many of them in Washington for so long they’re no longer cognizant of life outside the beltway. They are not beholden to the people who continually send them there. They are beholden to mega corporation and defense industry lobbyists. Beholden to power and to the people who give them money to help them stay in power. Their decision cycle is quite simple. What do my donors want? How much cash can I milk them for to push legislation they want? How do I spread the wealth around to garner support from other swamp dwellers? How can I dress it up so the saps who vote for me will think I am doing something great for them? Repeat.

The Washington cartel relies on the divisions they foster. They also rely on the stupid-ignorant. Stupid are those lacking intelligence or common sense. They’re prone to unreasoned thinking. It is, as they say, hard to fix stupid. Some even insist you can’t fix it. The ignorant lack knowledge. In this case knowledge of our country from our founding through our history, our Constitution and functioning of the branches of our government. Ignorance is fixable, but it is a grand challenge when the ignorant do not believe they are so because of life-long indoctrination. When stupid is combined with ignorance, it is the perfect formula for self-destruction. The Washingtonians rely on it as do those who inspire the no borders no country protests, those who attack people for their beliefs, and those driven by blind hatred toward a group or an individual.

What happened to our country? What are our values? Who are we?

Questions for our time. If all of us cannot answer them with the same response then we have no country, no values and no identity.

© 2018 J. D. Pendry J. D. Pendry’s American Journal

Sometimes life needs a reboot

Recently, I reviewed a book manuscript written by an old Solider and mentor. Great story that some publisher or movie screenwriter would be wise to grab hold of. I’m envious. I can’t share details, but the story stirred memories of another time. A time when our country was not in great shape. War protestors were in the streets while Americans were fighting and dying in a place only a few short years earlier most Americans had never heard of. Unfortunately for those in combat, it was a politically managed war. For the Soldier’s part, it was not about politics. It was about the Soldier standing next to them and survival. Thanks for the trip down memory lane my friend.

In September 1971, I was in basic combat training at Fort Ord, California. Monterey, Carmel by the Sea beautiful places. But, I was on Planet Ord known for fog, sand, ice plant and Vietnam Combat Veteran Drill Sergeants. Although the draft era was coming to an end, there were plenty draftees. There were also Reservists and National Guard. It was Regular Army (RA) that seemed the rarity. That was me. During that time, volunteering to serve wasn’t in vogue. The connected managed draft deferments or Reserve unit assignments while others avoided the draft by going to Canada.

At age 16, I was a high school dropout working for minimum wage as an unskilled laborer in a Chicago factory. After a couple of years, I looked around at men twice my age still breaking their backs. I didn’t like that glimpse of my future. A couple of weeks shy of my 19th birthday I walked into the Recruiter’s office on North Clark Street. Two days later I was on an airplane to California.

After a tortuous couple of weeks, I developed a blister on the pinkie toe of my right foot. My Drill Sergeant was quite clear when he told us he wanted to see any blister or other such thing if we had one. I showed him mine. It was very painful. He handed me a half a bag of salt obviously pilfered from mess hall stores. He told me to get a small trash can put hot water and salt in it and soak my foot and that would take care of it. I did. Several days later I was admitted to Fort Ord’s World War II era hospital with a very swollen foot and lower leg. The Doc said it was cellulitis. All I know is that it was throbbing painful and near impossible to stand on.

I was admitted to the surgical ward. It was a large bay with beds on each side. Some of them held medical evacuees from Vietnam. I recall one skinny little troop around my age. He seemed fine except for the metal brace on his left leg that clamped around the bottom of his boot. He said he was a helicopter door gunner when he was wounded and now he was waiting medical discharge. It brought life into focus for me – a two-week old recruit. The hospital kept me for a couple of weeks. When I returned to my unit, my locker was cleaned out and my stuff locked away in the supply room. I was sent to another unit to complete training.

The next unit was odd I thought. There were only three platoons. It did not take long to discover that I was one of only three RA recruits in the company. There was a spattering of draftees (US) and the remainder were in the Army Reserve (AR) or the National Guard (NG). There were some well educated people, a lawyer or two, some athletes. Not typical of those I associated with on the factory floor or expected to find in Army basic training. All had their reasons for being there. The draftees because their number was up, the Reservists and Guardsmen trying to get service commitments behind them so they could get back to already established lives and the RAs just beginning life’s journey. One major difference. The US and RA expected to go to Vietnam following training. At least that is what the Drill Sergeants pounded into our heads. The National Guard, and I believe the Reservists also, still had to qualify with the M-14 because that is what their units had. The National Guard also had to have riot control training.

In the spring of 1972, I completed training. Like others, I expected my first assignment to be Vietnam, but as I would later learn Vietnam was in drawdown. In large numbers, Soldiers were leaving Vietnam. My first assignment was to Korea. In February, I arrived at the replacement depot wearing my winter green uniform via a Military Airlift Command (MAC) Northwest Orient flight out of McChord Air Force Base, Washington to Osan, Air Base, Pyeongtek, Korea. During the few days I spent there, a flight full of Soldiers wearing jungle fatigues arrived from Vietnam. It was not an adequate uniform for February in Korea. Talking to some of them, they were barely on the ground in Vietnam before they were diverted to Korea.

My service career began with I Corps, Camp Red Cloud, Uijeongbu, Korea. No matter where you’ve been – Northeast Asia or Southeast Asia – during that period the description of a town (Village or Vil in GI lingo) could be layered one over the other. The people, the streets, markets, alleyways, the shops and clubs catering to Soldiers were all about the same.

All things considered, for a directionless kid taken under the wing of a Korean War Veteran First Sergeant, it was a second chance on life. I’m thankful it turned out OK.

© 2018 J. D. Pendry J.D. Pendry’s American Journal

Patriotism or Politics?

It is the solemn question for our time. For decades, we’ve been asked to pick an ideology, choose a political party, focus on one important issue, or choose the cause of the flavor of the day identity group. It’s refreshing and energizing when someone proclaims we should instead focus on America.

The first hymn at Sunday morning’s Church service was America the Beautiful. It’s the poem’s final version written by Katharine Lee Bates. Over the years, some have maintained it should be our National Anthem. Especially those who may view Francis Scott Key’s Star Spangled Banner as too “militaristic” or question his character in a 21st century context. Most do not know more than the first verse of the Star Spangled Banner. If they did, they would see that both Bates and Key attributed the greatness of our country and our freedom to God. Although Bates did it with more poetic flair than Key, their resounding message is the same.

Many Americans embrace the idea of Divine providence being responsible for our country’s historically rapid ascension to arguably the world’s leader. Both Bates and Keys embrace freedom as something worth fighting to preserve and per Bates written into law “confirm… thy liberty in law!”

Many others, we see and hear daily on every television channel, believe our national prosperity and freedom are products of deviousness. That we were set on a wrong path by the people of their time who founded our nation and wrote our Constitution. They view anything outside utopianism as evil. They spew a venomous hatred toward America. A tiny minority when compared to the total population, yet they are made to appear much larger through social and news media. Nothing good stems from such hatred. Nothing good can come from hatred no matter it’s origin. If hatred for any person or group is what motivates you, it is also what blinds you. It prevents you from seeing the truth or anything good.

We have been shown what is good. We can summarily abandon it or passionately hold to it.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 (NIV)

I saw a disheartening news snippet a day or so ago. It was a video made by Prager U. Incredibly, there are young adult Americans who do not know what we celebrate on July 4th nor do they know the significance of the year 1776. It’s not good for our country when young people do not know the most significant events in our history like the birth of our nation or the current history of the political parties they embrace. When you don’t know what you don’t know, it is easy to become captivated by some smooth-talking person or ideology that life’s experience later teaches you was a far distance from the right way. But, by the time it’s learned, it’s too late. The young are easily swayed. I declare this from experience.

Many young voting age Americans are not well educated, by design I propose, about our history or the various forms of government employed around the globe. That the most leftward of the left hope to encourage these youngsters to vote for their globalist socialist, open borders, no immigration enforcement worldview is the only explanation I can come up with for their current socialist, pro-illegal immigrant anti-immigration enforcement message. They have no message or no ideas good for Americans. They’re building a platform built of hatred and dissent. One that ignores our laws. It is a strategy playing on emotion of hatred for our current administration and empathy for children brought here illegally. Too many destined for human trafficking or gang life. We hear about the two thousand separated from their parents, but nothing about the ten thousand that arrived without parents.

Now, the President is about to select a new Supreme Court Justice, and most likely not his last. There seems to be but one concern. Will the court overturn Roe V. Wade? There is no concern about the Constitution. The concern is about abortion. Would not the patriotic view be that we demand a judge who is a Constitutionalist?

There is a wave for socialism. The government should provide everything. A guaranteed job or wage, free education, free medical care. There is no understanding or knowledge of how socialism has destroyed nations and people. Anyone who does not sign on to the socialism wave is called a NAZI by people who do not know that Hitler’s party was the National Socialist German Worker’s Party. He promised everything the socialists want for today. Indeed, it sounds wonderful but at the end of the day it’s a totalitarian nightmare. We see it playing out in today’s Venezuela.

We have to choose. Do we want to be Americans defending our Constitutional Republic? A place where liberty is confirmed in law, where there is opportunity for anyone who’ll pursue it. Or do we want to devolve into something totally opposite. Do we want to continue to sway in the wind of politics and activism or stand up for and hold firmly to the things that made our country great? Patriotism or politics?

© 2018 J. D. Pendry J. D. Pendry’s American Journal