My story and purpose
17 June 2016 Entebbe, Uganda
This is in response to a reader's questions in Visitor Posts.
Reader's Post: Hello Sir, I randomly came across u and your writing via Howzit Jinja. So, I guess you accomplished your goal by posting on there. I have read 3-4 of your timeline posts. I find your perspective and writing thoughtful and to some extent fascinating. Mostly, I am fascinated by the fact that you write and post these thoughts in a public way. I have 2 questions for you: 1) how do you make money in UG? It almost feels to me, you've written some of these things out of necessity, forceful passion. 2) what is the underlying reasoning for posting these things? I find it hard to believe that you just want to stir the pot. Do you feel you are contributing to the world via your posts and writing? If so, in what way? Feel free to not respond at all; as well, feel free to respond via PM
Response to Reader: Thanks for tracking me down through the Howzit Jinja page and taking the time to look over my stuff. Mostly, thank-you for the questions. They are direct, some are difficult, and all of them seem to have a reason for being asked. Those are good questions, and I will answer them all with the truth they merit.
Firstly, I did accomplish my goal! But my goal was not to peddle my writing. I have met you, and I hope it will lead to meeting you and other Jinja-ites in person.
Some background: I was born in the US, but when I was 2 my parents moved to Indonesia. I grew up there until I graduated high school. We got there in 1979. My dad used to fly around over the jungle, hours by air away from any kind of civilization. He and his fellow missionaries would look for smoke coming up from the jungle below. If and when they spotted smoke, they would mark it on a map, then spend weeks hiking through Suluwesi’s mountains and triple canopy rain forests to see if they could make contact with the people groups who’s smoke they had spotted from the air. These people were as primitive as you can get. They had only occasionally met anyone from the coast to trade rattan and rubber for leaf springs to make machetes and spear heads, wire and bicycle inner tubes for their spear guns, salt, and other necessities of war and life. Their whole world since the beginning of the earth had been only them and the jungle with the few other equally primitive tribes who they were constantly at war with. They called themselves the people of Bahasa Madi: The people of the language of “NO”. They were all about 5 feet tall or less, each tribe’s trappings were unique, but all wore only a loin cloth, a small pouch for their betel nut, a razor sharp machete, it’s handle adorned with human hair from the heads they had taken, each in an ornately carved scabbard tied with whicker weaved rope around their waist. Leather would rot in the jungle. Two bamboo tubes about a foot long tied together and filled with blow-gun darts. The poison for the darts was there, ready, in the recess of the bamboo lid in the form of a dark tar-like substance. The blowguns were 8 feet long and their spears 12 or more. Some carried short daggers with L-shaped handles and blades treated with poison, the blades intentionally rusted so that the poison was within the powdery rust. They lived in houses which were at least 20-30 feet off the ground to keep enemies within their own or other tribes from spearing them through the floor while they slept. Constant wars and vendettas. They did have medicine. From the Dūkung. The witchdoctor who communed with the demons and ancestors that dominated their daily lives through taboos, curses, and the like. In one tribe, for instance, it was taboo to cut the grains of rice from the stalk unless done from directly behind it. A trespass would be found out and punished severely, sometimes by death, lest the tribe bear the ever-present wrath of the spirits they worshiped. The spirits of the trees and mountains and rocks. I saw a look in their eyes I will never forget.
When I returned to the US at the age of 18, I joined the US Marine Corps. I was in a Special Operations unit called Force Recon. It’s what people would call Special Forces. Altogether, I worked in units like this for 15 years, all over the world. In wars you’ve probably forgotten, or maybe didn’t even know about. I’ve never been to France or Switzerland or Monaco, but I’ve been all over this planet. They don’t send you to places like that. They send you where there is pain. But I have been to some wonderful places too. I was a businessman in Washington DC for several years and have traveled all over the world, from one Business Class lounge to the next. Four Star Hotels weren’t good enough for me, neither was a Toyota, or a Casio, or an ink pen that costed less than $200. Yes, I bought into it, hook line and sinker. A friend of mine spent $15,000.00 USD for two nights at a hotel in Dubai, just because it was the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. I haven’t been a millionaire, but I’ve come pretty damned close. Then I lost it all. Everything. In one day. I’m glad I don’t have that life anymore. I don’t like who I was. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not apologizing for anything. Making money is one of the hardest things to do in the whole world. Everyone is trying to do it. If you’re good at it, and fair, my hat is off to you, and I hope you enjoy spending it. I might still get rich one day. I’ve invented afew things that might be novel. But not right now. This is too important. I need to write. That’s why I came here. One-way ticket. Just to write. No job. No money. Just an invitation from my best friend to stay with him and his wife in Entebbe. And write. It was a giant leap of faith. The bravest thing I’ve ever done. Everyone, even long-time friends and mentors told me it was a bad idea. And it’s been the most amazing time of my entire life. Read “The Heavy Kind of Pain”, and you’ll get the play-by-play. Since then I’ve found a job supervising the construction of a University Campus here in Uganda.
But I won’t stop writing. I can’t. To answer your question, I don’t get paid for any of my work. As of now I have not even tried to. I’d love to be able to make a living with just my writing, and I’d like to get there, but I don’t even know what that would look like. Poetry hasn’t been cool since Edgar Allen Poe. I don’t think that will change too much. You’re right about one thing specifically, and I’m very glad that you caught it. These are ideas. They may or may not rhyme, but they are not just cute little words that sound pretty together. I sure hope not anyway. The purpose of Art ought to be to facilitate the creation of new ideas in the mind of the reader. To see things differently, or to think about something in a way that you’ve never thought of it before. So, if you want to get people to get honest with themselves, that’s the best way to reach them, but honestly, I’m a writer. That’s it. It’s all I’ve got. So that’s what I use. So what’s it all about? I guess it would look like I’m just trying to get attention, or stir the pot, as you say. I’m glad that you asked that because my motives for writing this stuff surely come into question by a reader, and I don’t want that to distract them from the important stuff.
You know that look I mentioned in the eyes of those tribal people on the island of Suluwesi. Do you know why I’ll never forget it? Or why I felt compelled to foist my life story upon you? It’s because I’ve seen people in every stage of cultural evolution. From the tribal person in a loin cloth, to the businessman in a $10,000 suit. And everything in between. And in every context from war to opulent luxury verging on the ridiculous. We all have one thing in common. Some have more diversions than others, so it’s harder to see, but it’s there. It’s right out in front for the people of Bahasa Madi, or that little girl gazing out into nothing, standing by the road in the war ravaged bedlam that was once the town of Ar Ramadi, Iraq. There are no diversions for them. They face it every second. They have to. They are afraid. They are uncertain. Of everything. They don’t understand. And they have lost hope in ever finding an answer. It’s in their eyes. And the reason I’ll never forget it, is that I see it every single day. That same look is in the eyes of all of us. Of every human being who, at the very core of who they are, when all the rest is stripped away, are certain beyond any doubt of only one thing: They don’t know the truth.
It doesn’t matter if the truth exists, or if it doesn’t. If it’s possible to find, or not. They don’t know it. All that they know is that the fear is still there. The uncertainty. And the hopeless bewilderment. In its purest form it is expressed in the face of a newborn child who feels the sharp sensation of pain. With every possible facility of expression its bewildered soul cries out only one enormous question: “WHY?”
And we have no answer to give it. Because we have none for ourselves. And this is the human condition. And it breaks my fucking heart. Because I know what the truth is.
I have no fear. I know my destiny. And I don’t like the answer, but I know “Why”. My life is far more than the breaths that I take. Live is a verb. And it has been given to me as such. I am a free man. So when I see that look in people’s eyes. And I know that I know what can set them free. What enrages me more than anything on this earth, is the power of lies against truth. That even if I lay the truth out before them, the lies they believe will reject it. Or embrace but mutate it into another lie. For if truth is “adjusted” one iota, it is no longer truth. It can’t be. If it is not exclusive of everything but itself, it is not. There is only one truth. And its greatest enemies are the lies that it does not exist, that it is all incomprehensible, and its own distortion. The less distorted, the more insidious is the lie that it becomes, because it looks so much like the truth. It is counterfeit. No matter how good the quality, it is still counterfeit.
So, I’m not trying to “Stir the pot”, if you mean that I just want to be controversial. I don’t give a shit about creating controversy. In fact, it becomes a huge distraction from my aim. Assumptions are another huge distractor. Assumptions of my aim, or of my message. You see, in many cases, there is no message. I just want to make you think. I’m not going to foist my beliefs on anyone else. Why should they believe me? Why not some other self-proclaimed prophet? My aim is to help them identify the lies that they believe in. We all believe in lies and don’t know it. Whether it’s about who we are, or our self-worth, our abilities, potential, or even about the nature of money. We all lean on false beliefs. Only when we remove them do we see actual change in ourselves and our behavior. You’ll never be skinny enough, if you believe you look fat. Only when you see the lie and remove it, can you see yourself as you really are. In truth. See what I mean? The truth is there. We just don’t see it because there is a lie in the way. That’s why I don’t feel that I have to tell you what to believe...not that it would work anyway. If I help show people how to spot lies, the truth will emerge. And it may even surprise you what the truth is. You may have looked right at it before and missed it. Because you weren’t ready to receive it. There was a lie in its place.
And I want people to know how to recognize the lies that surround the truth. So, if they choose to, they can reject what they know in their hearts to be bullshit because it doesn’t make any sense. Truth is reasonable. It is logical. Many lies will tell you not to use reason, especially when it comes to things like God. They will say that you must rely solely on faith. That’s a sneaky one because it’s almost true. You definitely must rely on faith to be able to accept a being capable of willing this universe into existence. That kind of being is incomprehensible to us just as infinity is. But just as infinity is incomprehensible, it is not untrue. Reason shows us that infinity is true even though we cannot comprehend it. In the same way, we must rely on faith IN THE TRUTH to arrive at a true but incomprehensible being. Belief systems that throw out reason subvert any possibility to validate their claims of truth. Very sly. But the lie is easily spotted. If they proclaim a supreme being and source of existence, surely its attributes are represented within that which the being has brought into existence. And they are. The universe functions on order, logic, and reason. So to say then that you must abandon reason in order to understand the source of existence of a logical universe is stupid. It makes no sense. It is a lie. Reject it. If such a being exists, it will by nature be fantastic and inexplicable. If it is not, it is surely a concept from the mind of a man. And if it is not, why believe in it? I cannot even comprehend my own mind, so if I can comprehend such a being, it is less than me. I will just believe in myself and be done with it. Religion does this. It makes God small enough for us to understand, but not big enough to be God. So people choose to believe in their religion instead of their God, because their God is impotent. Even those closest to the truth do this. Many of them know the truth, but they don’t believe that it is true. They don’t know well enough to be sure. They are just as afraid as everyone else. So they have made the truth into a religion. Then believe and place their trust in their religion, not in their God.
So the reason I write what I do is that I want to give people the courage and understanding to defy the lies. To seek the truth. And don’t dare settle for anything less. If you seek the truth with all your heart, you will find it. This is True. And the Truth will set you free.