Bucking the System, Part II: Learning and Unifying

Disclaimer: I talk about gun control. If you are at your saturation point, come back later. It may help to skip most of the post and start with “The Meat of the Matter” and then go back to the beginning.

Uranus in Transit

I’m going to bring in something today that I haven’t really gotten into yet: transits. Transits are when the current placement of a planet interacts with your natal chart. One reason I bring this up is Uranus (in Aries) is now opposite my natal Pluto (in Scorpio), and, as these are both really slow moving planets, this is a generational aspect and one that will take a while to go through.

What do I mean by generational aspect? I mean a bunch of people around my age are experiencing that same aspect right now. They may be experiencing it in different areas of their lives (depending on what House it is in for them), but it’s there. As Pluto takes 248 years to go around the sun (roughly 251 days per degree of the Zodiac) and Uranus takes 84 years (~85 days per degree), they have been close for around 6 months and should stay close for the next year as Uranus moves into Taurus. That’s not taking into account stations (the planet, astrologically, standing still) or retrogrades (moving backwards). For those on the leading edge of the millennials (early 80’s through mid-80’s), you’re likely experiencing the same opposition I am. For those of you born in the early 90’s, current Pluto in Capricorn is conjunct your natal Uranus. For you late 90’s/early 2000’s babies, your Uranus was already in Aquarius – you were born to buck the system. Plus, your natal Jupiters are getting hit with that Aries Uranus energy right now.

What does this mean? A multi-generational middle finger to the Man.

finger

Unfortunately, it isn’t a unified middle finger.

For the 90’s and 2000’s peeps, conjunctions are a connecting and blending energy – the planets work together (sometimes that’s not so good). Pluto is concerned with transformations, depth, deep change, and power struggles. Uranus is concerned with liberation, sudden and revolutionary change, equality, and inspiration. Jupiter involves worldview, belief structures, idealism, and opportunities. For the 90’s kids, that energy exchange between Pluto and Uranus is saying it’s time to be free, just be steady, committed, persevere – build it, it will come. You 2000’s kids are little more impatient. That fiery Aries energy is pushing you to make new opportunities to rebel and be free, to change the system wherever you’re focused and with the optimism and idealism (which, being youthful, you already had) in whichever area you are focused on. It’s a powerful energy, it’s making powerful changes – it’ll just burn out a little faster.

For those of us in the mid-30’s or so…. oppositions, man. The energy is polarized, divided, mirrored… We want change to happen, but the possible changes we see challenge our personal sense of power and control. We want things to change, but that doesn’t mean we want to be the ones changing or, even, the ones changing things. So there seems to be a fight or flight response.

life takes over

For those more on the Libra side of Pluto, you’re probably feeling more flight – taking breaks from Facebook, temporarily unfollowing people, becoming intensely interested in your food when the topic is brought up. Yeah, you have an opinion. Absolutely. But, outside the occasional shared post or article and liking the status of people you agree with, the approach is pretty laissez faire. You’d rather get along. The polarization is disheartening, there’s too much feeling involved. Is anyone really fully right or wrong, anyway? There’s no balance and pushing makes it more unbalanced.

On the more Scorpio side, yeah…. you wanna fight. But only if you’re not feeling vulnerable. You’re going to lash out and then retreat and wait for the counter-sting. You’re pretty sure the person you’re arguing with has been lied to and, if you could just prove it, they’d understand and we could more forward. And that’s what you really want, the deeper truth to come out so you can partner up and take on the rest of the world. There’s a really good chance with this placement and current opposition that you have Libra on the cusp of whatever house Pluto is in (Pluto switches from Libra to Scorpio sometime between August 13th and August 29th of 1984 – a partner of mine is at 29° Libra, I’m at 0° Scorpio) and so, in the end, you want this change to bring about a positive and balanced relationship. And it will…. as soon as they change their mind.

But lately, everyone is leaning more towards fight. A pushy Arien Uranus says change is happening whether you like it or not. You’re posting things with the attitude of “Fight me!” and are both happy and frustrated if someone does or doesn’t. Yes, my fellow early to mid-80’s babies, we are going through a teen angst of power struggles.

Fortunately, oppositions bring about the opportunity to integrate, balance, unite, and mediate. Polarity and duality aren’t easily integrated, but Libra, despite not liking it, is very good at it.

Personally, I’m right there at the beginning of Scoprio, all up in my 4th House, soul searching for my ugly. What’s the point? What am I wanting the outcome to be? Why am I taking this all so personally? What aspect of this, specifically, is hitting that hot anger button? What are the implications for me and my family if I follow this course of action? It’s a very Scorpio thing, deciding if I’m going to show a vulnerability based on the projected outcome – is it worth the risk?

A Specific, Relevant Issue This Transit is Affecting: The Gun Debate

In the spirit of relevance, I’ve taken the last few weeks to really look at my reactions to gun control. I’ve been wanting to think of my position as entirely logical, the result of patient study in statistics and policy, but it isn’t. It’s also emotional and it relates to fear and trust. I know most people’s opinions on this are emotional rather than logical, no matter how much we want to say otherwise.

To lay it out bluntly: I am for strict gun control. I also love to shoot and I believe my position is Constitutional.

Here is the 2nd Amendment:

2nd amendment

Odds are, if you are reading, you either had a “Yes, of course” moment or a “Fuck, I should stop reading now” moment. Either way, challenge yourself to actually read everything here without looking for confirmation or rejection. Try to be detached. It’s not precisely my opinions that have changed, but my approach definitely has.

A couple of things not to argue with me about

  • The term “assault rifle”
    • Why?
      • Assault rifle is a legal classification. It stems from the rifles first used in World War II. The U.S. Army definition is “short, compact, selective-fire weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power between submachine gun and rifle cartridges.” It is not a term invented by the far left to malign all rifles (yes, I have had this argument).
      • An Colt AR-15 is not classified as an assault rifle only because it is not considered a selective fire weapon. For this reason, an assault rifle ban would not affect the manufacture and sale of the current AR-15.
      • However, the addition of a bump stock, while not “technically” making an AR-15 automatic, simulates it pretty closely. The AR-15 semi-automatic rifles used in Orlando shot at a rate of 24 rounds in 9 seconds. The rifles used in Las Vegas were modified with bump stocks, shooting 90 rounds in 10 seconds that varied a bit in concentration (because you are constantly pressing the trigger). A fully automatic pre-1986 Colt AR-15A2 can fire 100 rounds in 7 seconds at a constant rate.
      • Is that a big difference? No. Certainly not when you are getting shot at. But it is a legal difference and it’s the legal difference that matters in gun policy. A bump stock is not regulated. A pre-1986 fully automatic AR-15 makes it an assault rifle and requires Federal license. The ~175,000 available are tightly regulated under the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 and are sold for around $10,000 a pop.
      • A Colt AR-15 is described as an “assault weapon,” but not an “assault rifle.” The difference is whether it is semi-automatic or fully automatic. These weapons would be affected by reinstating the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban.
  • The statistics
    • Why?
      • I am pulling from the FBI 2015 and 2016 statistics governing violent crime. I am also pulling from the CDC’s 2016 firearms reports. These agencies pull their numbers by different means.
      • FBI uses police reporting, however, there aren’t unified requirements on exactly what to report and police units will classify some things differently depending on region. For example, what one police unit will classify a hate crime, another will not due to a host of personal or political reasons (Police commissioners are appointed, sheriffs are elected). Also, there are sometimes ongoing investigations where there is still speculation on whether there was a homicide or suicide and what the motivations were for it.
      • The CDC numbers come from death certificates. A little slower but more thorough.
      • Any other statistics are cited in the sources and all included peer review study and governing agency reports, occasionally backed by other journalistic articles but not based on journalistic articles
  • The correlation between higher gun-ownership rates and lower crime rates
    • Why?
      • Yes, there is an inverse correlation. Correlation is not causation.
      • Even the experts don’t know for sure what factors are attributed to lower crime rates and in what amount. Here are some contenders:
        • Economic growth – ~5-15%
        • Drop in alcohol consumption – ~7.5%
        • Mass incarceration – possibly moderate, but indeterminate; found not to be a deterrent to violent crime
        • Tough-on-crime policies – 0-10%, rates continue to drop even since some of those policies have been abandoned
        • Other possibilities for the remaining ~68.5-87.5%:
          • Abortion access
          • Climate change
          • Gentrification
          • Gun-ownership
          • Proliferation of anti-depressants
          • Proliferation of cell phones
          • Removal of lead from gasoline
    • If you are not willing to give the same consideration to abortion access as high levels of gun-ownership, then it is a partisan view and I’ll have none of it and vice versa. They are both inversely correlated with about the same timing in terms of effects and both have tenuous links that are hard to prove. Either way, neither can take full or even half credit.

Here’s the rub: the stats sited on both sides actually tend to be right. They just aren’t complete.

You probably ARE more likely to be murdered from being stabbed with a knife or other cutting instrument than from a rifle. (2016: 1604 homicides as opposed to 374)

However….. That is an apples to oranges comparison and gun violence is still a huge problem in the US, especially when compared with other wealthy countries.

If we separated out “knife” from “other cutting instrument” we would see different numbers.

That was 374 confirmed rifle homicides. Homicide by firearms of any type totaled 11004, most by handguns (7105), but 3077 were firearms, type not stated and an additional 186 were “other guns.” Another 262 were shotguns.

This is just those numbers considered homicides. They do not include firearm deaths due to negligence, which negligent knife use cannot touch, or with the intent to harm oneself, which again, the use of knife and cutting implements cannot touch.

There are on average 92 gun deaths a day in the United States. 30 are homicides, 58 are suicides, 1.3 are accidental shootings, 1.6 are police action, and 1/day is considered undetermined.

You can argue that suicide should not be counted in a gun control debate, however, only 1/4 of US citizens are current gun owners and the decision to actually commit suicide and carry it out is, overwhelmingly, done quickly. Enacting waiting periods and better mental health access and requirements could drastically curb the biggest number of violent gun deaths in the US, a statistic that disproportionately affects white men.

Also, as for the good guys with guns save lives – As with the homicide statistics, that’s actually more true of handguns, and you are more likely to be saved by a guy with a knife or cutting implement than a guy with a rifle.

Further gun legislation WOULD be effective in reducing criminal access to weapons.

Um…. that really depends. As does the assertion that enforcing our current laws would curb gun violence. It all depends on how we go about it.

Closing the loop holes in background checks for gun shows and private sales only accounts for 6% of weapons acquired for illegal use.

“Straw sales” only account for maybe 7% – this is when someone who could legally buy a firearm buys them with the intention of selling them to someone who cannot. Stricter background checks and waiting periods won’t affect this and people found to be doing this are already prosecuted, however, proving that this was an intention and not a standard private gun sale is not easy. However, closing the loop hole for background checks for private sales might lessen this issue as there would be concrete negligence and a hefty fine that could outweigh the benefits of buying for someone else, especially if such a notice is posted in a gun shop. It won’t get rid of it.

In actuality, 79% of guns used in violent crime are obtained illegally. Additionally, most violent crime is committed with handguns, which most people are currently not requesting bans on and which some proposed legislation would not cover.

That being said, I would still be happy to see a 6-13% reduction in illegal access to firearms.

Honestly, I could go on an on and on. Those are just two examples from each side. However, I strongly recommend reading “Ten Lies Distort the Gun Debate” in Forbes magazine by Chris Ladd, who was an active Republican for 30 years. He only withdrew from the Republican party after the 2016 Republican National Convention and has remained unaffiliated since then. He gives some good reasoning on why specific approaches don’t work and what can be done to modify them into something that could work.

Back to Transits and Personal Liberation/Power

The reason I am not outlining these reasons here or getting into the weeds any more than I already have is because I want to examine my issues with this debate outside the realm of what I feel, or for that matter what anyone else feels, is right and wrong, what will work and what won’t.

I’m going back to the fear and trust issue I mentioned earlier. The gun debate is, for me, just another aspect of the patriarchy and toxic masculinity.

But girls have guns too! Yeah, that’s not what I mean by patriarchy or masculinity.

It’s the masculine archetypal need for dominance. We all have it in varying degrees. We all assert it in different ways. And dominance and the need for it isn’t, on it’s own, a bad thing. It’s what allows us to go out into the world, it’s what gives us the drive to create, and it’s what we use to defend ourselves when attacked. It’s just that the toxic portion of dominance is typified in most patriarchal societies and it has often gone unmitigated for great stretches of time.

I don’t see BDSM as toxic dominance the way a lot mainstream society does. See, in a system like BDSM, dominance has to be granted. Yes, there are people with more dominant behaviors and so are more likely to be in dominant roles, but the system works on trust, negotiation, and a power exchange. The dominant is not allowed to do anything that the submissive hasn’t explicitly stated is okay. If something crosses a line, there are safe words and gestures available to the submissive to end the scene. A good dominant will check in with a submissive periodically to ensure everything is still okay, even if the submissive hasn’t given any indications it isn’t, because their welfare is the dominant’s responsibility. And it’s a relatively small community, so if you don’t like to play by the rules, it gets around. The dominant controls the submissive, gets to act their will upon them, however, the power for what is allowed, where it goes, and when it ends is negotiated and, most often, is determined by the submissive’s comfort level (There are exceptions as a submissive’s desires can be uncomfortable for the dominant to enact – different discussion though).

In theory, this is the way that democracy is supposed to work. The People are the submissives and the Government is the dominant. The Amendments, the legal system, and, to an extent, voting are the negotiations. But there’s not any real way to safe word out. And most people on both sides of the gun debate would agree that voting is less like negotiation because we’re all choosing between dominants we know don’t care about our well being or only care about it in a limited way. And for those before us who were not even given the option to vote, there was even less say in the scene. So there is no trust.

That is one reason I get so frustrated with people who ridicule the March for Our Lives protesters. The First Amendment came before the Second (which up until 2008 did not actually guarantee citizens the right to private gun ownership) and they are allowed to exercise it, and to feel safe while doing so. These were people who have the least say in our democracy, but are still subject to its laws, though not to the same extent as legal adults. Their voice is all they have. We, as those in power over them, are required to listen. Not necessarily agree, but listen and attempt to negotiate.

The ridicule and destruction of a marginalized voice is toxic masculinity.

Another point in the debate is that tighter regulations will only affect lawful gun owners. And that really does depend on the regulation and how much power we give to enforcing it. Even so, most of the regulations proposed, with the exception of the reinstatement of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban and raising the age of gun ownership (which would affect a small percentage for a limited time), would have little effect on law abiding gun owners, and those they would affect should be effected. At least ninety percent of the arguments against these measures are based on convenience. Limiting how convenient it is to obtain a weapon or a large amount of ammo is not an infringement. The other 10% of the argument is “it won’t work anyway.” Again, that depends on how it’s implemented, but, if it won’t work, what’s the actual problem in letting it pass except, again, convenience? The power to actually enforce the laws we do have has, again, not been given based on convenience to the gun owner and, really, fear that it will be used against law-abiding gun owners to strip ownership.

Allowing danger to others based on your convenience is toxic masculinity.

And a final one that pisses me off is the “overthrowing the government” argument. What’s annoying is that I’ve heard this argument from fellow Veterans who should know better. Maybe it is because I did convoy security in Iraq, maybe it is because I was an Ammunition Specialist who worked with EOD, but I am well aware of what kind of firepower our military has and what it can and cannot do. Your semi-automatic Colt AR-15 can take out a bunch of unarmed civilians in a night club or a school. It’s not doing shit against our military. Even at war with people who have unfettered access to AK-47s, a fully automatic rifle, it doesn’t do much. You know what it is used for? Distraction. Yeah, you might hit a soldier with it, even manage to get past the body armor, and a 5.56 or a 7.62 round is gonna suck, but it’s not what is responsible for a majority of casualties. It’s for suppressive fire to get you into the area where something bigger is waiting.

The statistics on what death was caused by vary a bit between Iraq and Afghanistan, but fatalities in both are much more likely to be from IEDs, which were much more effective in Iraq than in Afghanistan, mostly due to terrain. Helicopter deaths were also more likely to account for deaths in Afghanistan. There was a brief spike in small arms deaths in Afghanistan in 2006 and again in 2010, but it is attributed more to sniper fire. Also, correlating (though again correlation is not causation – but in this case cause for concern) with these spikes was the realization that small arms were being supplied by the US in various ways to Afghan and Iraqi forces, but the shipments weren’t well tracked or kept safe upon arrival and large numbers of those weapons ended up in enemy hands.

Personally, on convoy security, I wanted a handgun, preferably a .45 (which I wouldn’t have gotten because the Army uses 9mms). They’re more versatile, made a hell of a lot more sense in urban combat conditions, and generally had the same stopping power at the distances we were worried about. I wanted a weapon I wasn’t worried about getting caught on or, quite frankly, clocking myself with if I needed to maneuver around the radio mount to get to the other side of the vehicle for cover.

Now I’m not saying rifles are totally useless against an unruly government. But suppressive fire can be done with a lot of different firearms and small arms fire doesn’t account for enough deaths to be considered a tactically sound method for a decent overthrow. Look, personally, I’m not the overthrow mentality – I’m frustrated and angry and mistrustful, but my Mars is in Sagittarius in Leo’s House, I still wanna talk it out. Loudly. Plus there’s that Saturn in my 4th and Capricorn on the 6th….. It’s just gonna be a long time before I’m actually going to start a Resistance. That being said, if you are actually concerned about the ability (and some would say Constitutional responsibility) to overthrow a corrupt government, then listen up:

Invest in STEM programs.

Update your vision. This isn’t the Wild West or the pioneering frontier anymore. Get that lone rifle-toting cowboy out of your head and come to terms with the fact that a truly corrupted government’s answer to a couple of guys with rifles on a hilltop is an air strike. If it comes down to a Revolution, we’re gonna have to pull a Hamilton and steal some cannons (or, you know, C-4). Guerrilla tactics are going to be a must. The people needed for an effective shot at resisting a government need to have a good understanding of science and mechanics as well as the ability to shut up and work together.

Also, invest in literacy and the humanities. Stand against censorship.

Rebellion is born on the page long before it gains momentum in the populace. Our nation’s independence started with a Declaration, not an assassination. This is why Free Speech and the right to assemble is the First Amendment. This is why our Founding Fathers took time writing pamphlets and essays. Violence was the last resort.

The urge to assert dominance through force rather than discussion and negotiation is toxic masculinity.

The Meat of the Matter

Whether you agree with any of the above is, actually, irrelevant. None of that was said with the optimism that I am going to be changing minds. What I am doing is outlining what I am relating to a larger issue that is, for me, something I am still working on in my PTSD therapy. I am learning to take a step back from the anger this issue brings up in me to really analyze my responses and my proposed solutions. It took me acknowledging that this issue is about more than guns and finding out what the triggers were in order for me to push past them and read other opinions with the ability to evaluate fairly.

It isn’t easy and it isn’t fun, but it is necessary if there is any unification and progress to be made. Or, actually, I should say, any progress to be made that isn’t the result of bloodshed. I’ve done war. I think we have better options.

And I see this emotional charge on both sides of the debate. I can’t say I don’t understand the fear on the other side. I’ve held a weapon with the intention of use – it’s a powerful thing. It makes you feel safe and it can even change the way you carry yourself. I understand the urge to defend that feeling, especially when it feels like you are under attack. But then what aspect of yourself is under attack? The answer to defending it probably isn’t more guns. Pay attention if that caused an angry or sarcastic internal response – it hit a nerve you are ignoring.

I think, in terms of big societal systems, we have really failed at learning how to feel constructively. It seems like the drive has really been to remove the emotion from a situation, which is something that only works in theory. As someone who continually intellectualizes my emotions, the real work of the last few years has been to sit with a feeling without judging it and then slowly untangle where that feeling is coming from so I can figure out what to do with it. Right now, the big step in this debate, for me, is to analyze and express the emotional nature of it. Because, at the end of the day, I feel that access to guns is only a small part of the overall problem. Maybe in a few months, with more research and talking, I’ll figure out what I want to do about it. Maybe it will involve advocating for a specific set of policies, maybe it will involve running for office, maybe it will involve teaching others about the larger issues and how to approach them.

I don’t know yet. Maybe you don’t know either. And, for right now, that’s okay.

libertad

Sources

Gun Violence

FBI 2016 UCR Homicides by Weapon

CDC 2016 Assaults and Homicides

Is CDC Banned from Researching Gun Violence? 

 

Snope’s Investigation of Breitbart’s Claim

Guns in the U.S.

US vs World Gun Statistics

Gun Numbers is the US

What Caused the Crime Decline

Ten Lies Distort the Gun Control Debate

Bump Stocks 

Casualty Statistics in OEF and OIF

Military fatality rates (by cause) in Afghanistan and Iraq: a measure of hostilities

Cost of War

2010 Rise in Small Arms Deaths

 

 

 

Bucking the System, Part I: Generally Failing

“When you got skin in the game, you stay in the game.
But you don’t get a win unless you play in the game.
Oh, you get love for it, you get hate for it.
You get nothing if you
Wait for it, wait for it, wait…”
-Hamilton, “The Room Where it Happens”

I’ve been contemplating what to write about this week and, really, I’m not 100% sure that this belongs here, but I can loosely tie it in and it’s time to talk about it.

The 6th House governs work, health, and service, and is traditionally ruled by Virgo, the Sign of purity, which focuses on improvement – how can I make myself and this situation better? She has a critical and discerning eye, especially for injustice and laziness. She can be amazingly supportive or she can devastatingly (and often accurately) point out your flaws. She will serve until it’s too broken to fix or too toxic to stay in.

My 6th House is ruled by Capricorn, the Sign of responsibility and, again, focuses on improvement. He will be ambitious and relentless in bettering his position. He is about tangible power and success. Where Virgo seeks perfection, even knowing it is unattainable, Capricorn is more accepting and critical of reality and he will be the best of whatever part of reality he has chosen to focus on. He will work within the system, because working hard and following the rules (written and unwritten) grants the reward of power and recognition.

I feel the need to talk about the system and the problems within the system. The problems with government and society here in the U.S.

Let me just reiterate here, I am a Veteran. I don’t hate my country – I love it. I’ve put my life on the line for it. I enlisted literally one month after 9/11 in my senior year of high school, but I had been talking with military recruiters since the end of the summer. I did two tours in Iraq, I volunteered for convoy security in Baghdad, I was occasionally part of our Quick Reaction Force and have had to search female detainees. I spent 4 years active, and an additional 2.5 in the National Guard. I was a .50 Caliber machine gun instructor for a while. I got out for 2 reasons: I was going to have a baby and I knew the system wasn’t a good one for me – a woman who is outspoken and struggles with weight – to advance in.

This is my mix of Capricorn and Virgo: I am extremely aware of the systems and how to

body-fat-worksheet
In 2005, BMI was determined by calculating the ratio of average measurements of 4 areas on women: the neck, forearm, wrist, and hips. For men, it is the neck and waist.

advance in them, but I’m not willing to play the game and, especially, since I am self aware as well, not willing to play when I know I am not built to play the game well or when I know my suitability to the game will not be acknowledged. Case and point: I may be overweight, but I’m strong and, actually, at the time, I was very athletic. When I was active duty, if I was passing my Physical Fitness test (which I very often got close to maxing out), I wasn’t passing my tape test. If I worked hard to pass my tape test (usually by bulking up my forearms and neck with some weird ass weight lifting), I wasn’t passing my run. I was far from alone in that, but it was a system that consistently kept me from being eligible for promotion. I could sling Hellfire missiles with the guys, I could go on one hundred convoy missions, but I wasn’t skinny enough to be a “model soldier.”

Yes, I’m still bitter about it. Bound to be. Capricorn doesn’t forgive easily and my Saturn, which rules Capricorn, is in Scorpio in my 4th House. I’m going to hold on to that for a while, whether I want to or not. I take my reputation for hard work and accurate work personally. I mean, really, out of the 3 signs I have interacting here, 2 are about power, 2 are about responsibility, and 2 are about self awareness. When I think about changing myself to work within the system, the Capricorn portion is kind of okay with it as long as the work still gets done, the Virgo portion shudders at the impurity, and the Scorpio goes, “I don’t change unless I absolutely have to. Change the system.” The Virgo nods along and the Capricorn works harder.

And that has occasionally worked for me.

When I was on my second deployment, I ended up over tape and had to do extra PT. The PT session was at 6:30am and I worked 2nd shift – 5pm to 3am. I think. It may have been 4pm to 2am. Either way, it was a half hour to forty minute ride back to the Conex boxes we lived in and I’ve never been able to fall asleep quickly. Also, there were often formations at 8am and sometimes noon that we weren’t allowed to miss, sometimes to get information and sometimes to do additional work that had come up. I was also battling hormonal depression at the time (birth control patches don’t work for me – found that out shortly after this incident). I started missing PT because I was sleeping through my alarm. Soldiers missing PT was becoming a bit of an issue, so leadership decided to make an example out of the next person who missed. You can probably guess who that was.

I got an Article 15. For those of you not familiar with military discipline system, an Article 15 is basically a written warning that can vary in severity based on the offense. It is accompanied by punishment, usually extra duty in the form of janitorial duties of some kind, but can also include being demoted. You have to go before your platoon commander to have the warning read to you, you get a moment (or, at least, I was given a moment) to explain or comment, and then your punishment is decided.

reallyI was upset, because I am rarely, if ever, in trouble. But what actually really pissed me off was the day I was scheduled to have my hearing, the sergeant who ran the PT class held me up as an excellent example of a soldier who puts their all into every class. It was true, I don’t half ass my work or my work outs, mandatory or not. But it was the principle of the thing. It was extremely aggravating to be held up as a shining example of hard work and dedication as well as an example for disciplinary action.

That night, right before my hearing, I was waiting outside the door with the First Sergeant and he asked how I ended up there. I told him what happened and he told me that they were planning on moving everyone on extra PT to the 2nd shift because it wasn’t fair to the other soldiers when some people had to leave a shift early or go to a shift late to make their PT session. At that point, I quite plainly told him that I would end up with another Article 15 if that happened. It wasn’t that I wanted to miss formation. It was that I was sleeping through it. I had slept through knocks on the door as well and I wasn’t about to leave my door unlocked so someone could come in to wake me up (the advice for avoiding sexual assault was lock your door – we were told that at basic right before being shipped to advanced training. He knew he couldn’t tell me to leave my door unlocked.).

After a minute of silence, he asked my advice. I said it wasn’t necessarily a bad idea to put all the PT soldiers on the same shift, but, if so, then move the class time. Maybe to 9:30 or 10? It would be between the 8 and noon formations that happened frequently with enough time either way to shower and change. You could also move it to the afternoon prior to the shift, but then it would be midday when it was super hot.

I ended up getting 7 days of duty, the lightest sentence you can get, which I spent occasionally sweeping the office and painting an eagle on a concrete buffer near the headquarters building (I also found out from my doctor that I should get off the birth control – the hormone rebound made it seem like I was high for a month after). But the cool thing was THEY ACTUALLY LISTENED TO ME and changed the formation times.

Obviously, I both hated and loved that event in my military career. I hated the system, but I loved changing the system. I felt very accomplished (in a weird way) to have things end up being more fair while still serving the right function.

However, the military was a system I could leave. Our military is a volunteer one and, while they do own you for 8 years initially and until every contract thereafter runs out, and, even though they can involuntarily extend your contract in certain circumstances (it’s happened to me), there is always an exit date. That isn’t true of most of the other systems that have an effect on our lives – like culture and government. Yeah, with some work, you may be able to leave the system you are in by moving to another area, but you can’t just leave all systems behind – essentially, you end up trading them.

And I have thought about it. A lot.

The question is how much do you have to play the system to change the system? And how much does playing the system cost the soul?

I’ll be throwing up some thoughts on the following systems via audio clips, looking at the issues in these systems (obviously not all of them) and what I think are some failings of  the way we are fighting these issues and some common ground I think can be found. Yes, I am fairly liberal, but I’m also quite practical and I understand the difference between the way people should be have and the way they actually behave.

  • Government, Nationalism, and Democracy
  • The First Amendment
  • The Second Amendment
  • All the “-isms”

 

 

 

Tuesday

fail

Um…. I picked up a partial shift at my second job. And I used some of that time to do various adulting things like pay my mortgage, re-establish my online banking credentials, manage my bills, set up an account alert, pay my electric, set up a payment plan, check on my credit score, and clear out my email inbox. So I’ll have had a total of an hour lunch, a fifteen minute break, and forty five minutes of transitioning between jobs that was not spent working from 7:45am to 11:00pm. I did not make it to yoga.

In my defense, money is going to be tight for the next month or so. This extra shift helps. And I have turned down the last 3 offers of extra hours at this job for child care, working overtime at full time job, and a date, respectively.

I’ll try to meditate tonight though. 🙂