(Photo: Crystal Green)
I have always thought myself a free spirit, a philosopher mendicant, seeking an alternative, more substantive lifestyle. Others, however, see my unorthodoxy, my "spiritual seeking," as abnormal and a clear indication of my insanity. Perhaps I need to pause and reevaluate my life. After all, being insane is not something one readily admits. I guess it's part of being crazy to cling to a facade of sanity, to think oneself normal and everyone else insane.
One thing I am certain of, however. I haven't always been crazy. Wasn't born crazy. I think insanity crept up on me, happened in Vietnam, in the war. War does that, you know, drives people crazy. Shell shock, battle fatigue, soldier's heart, PTSD. All that killing and dying can make anyone crazy.
Some survive war quite well, they tell me. Many even benefit from its virtues. But war's effects are not always apparent. No one escapes war unscathed in body and in mind. All war, any war, every war, ain't no virtue in war.
I think, of those not driven crazy by war, many were crazy already. But theirs was an insanity of a different kind, a hard kind, an uncaring kind. I knew people like that. Didn't like them much. Thought them fortunate, though, as killing and dying meant nothing. In fact, in a perverse way, they enjoyed it, enjoyed the jazz, the excitement, the power. They became avenging angels, even god herself, making decisions of life and death, but mostly death. Those crazies hated to see the war end. For me, the war never ends.
Sometimes things work out for the best, though, as my unorthodoxy, my being crazy, probably saved my life. You see, sane people can't live like this, in a war that never ends. Not all crazy people can either. Guess I was lucky. Sometimes being crazy helps you cope. Sometimes I wish I were crazier than I am.
Serious introspection has made clear the basis of my unorthodoxy, the nature of my insanity. It is a cruel wisdom allowing - no, better, compelling - a clarity of vision. I have seen the horror of war, the futility and the waste. I have endured the hypocrisy and arrogance of the influential and the wealthy, and have tolerated the ignorance and narrow-mindedness of the compliant and the easily led. War's malevolent benefactors, who pretend and profess their patriotism with bumper-sticker bravado, with word but not deed, intoxicated by war's hysteria, from a safe distance. Appreciative of our sacrifices, they claim, as they applaud the impending slaughter, sanctioning by word, or action, or non-action sending other men and women to be killed, and maimed, and driven crazy by war.
And when they benefit from the carnage no longer, their yellow ribbon patriotism and shallow concern fade quickly to apathy and indifference. The living refuse of war that returns are heroes no longer, but outcasts and derelicts, and burdens on the economy. The dead, they mythologize with memorials and speeches of past and future suffering and loss. Inspiring and prophetic words by those who sanction the slaughter to those who know nothing of sacrifice.
I used to try to explain war to help them understand and to know its horror, naively believing that war was a deficiency of information, understanding, discernment and vision. But being crazy has liberated me, allowing me to see that war is not a deficiency at all, but an excess of greed, ambition, intolerance and lust for power. And we are its instruments, the cannon fodder, expendable commodities in the ruthless pursuit of wealth, power, hegemony and empire.
And now, I accept and celebrate my unorthodoxy, my insanity, as an indictment of the hypocrites and the arrogant, of the ignorant and the narrow-minded for a collective responsibility and guilt for murder and mayhem, and crimes against humanity. And I offer my insanity as a presage of their future accountability - to humankind in the courts of history, and to the god they invoke so often to sanction and make credible their sacrilege of war.