Saturday, August 16, 2014

In Defense of the Warrior Spirit.

This essay is not politically correct but that's a good description of my whole life so here goes. I am a nobody and a nothing, toe-jam for the Beast, hiding out in my trashcan, it don’t matter what I say, but what the fuck, to be sapient is to be loud and brash. 

I’ve lived a long life, I can drop off any day, thus I feel free to comment. I guess the thing for me, to survive, is to not give a fuck, not worry about what anybody reading my words might think: that at best I’m a fuckwit, at worst a right little bastard. For example, all the fights I got into, the ongoing beat-ups, as if “make love not war” morphed into “make love with war if the cause is just.”

What can I say? Life in modern times is a kind of battle, passive-aggressive much of the time, to hang onto one’s employment, apartment, bank account, utilities account, integrity and sanity is a trial. To choose one’s freedom is a battle. “It’s a jungle out there.”  History is full of 'Just' fights. American Indians had to fight to keep their lands and culture. Australian Aborigines had to fight an invasion that was intent on wiping them out. As a homosexual I had to fight to exist, to get basic human rights, to attempt happiness.

Many of us get tired and hear the inner voice telling us to “jump” i.e. not go on with the fight to live, but to end it all. You have to keep the fighting spirit up: I do it with strength of character, golden resolve and creative purpose, and I get a life, that of a laid-back bum though it is. In the meantime I scribble my angst away, this text is a 21 thousand page suicide note, oh so long, with so many bullshit excuses and pleas for forgiveness, it will never get to the end, I just take a deep breath and keep on going. I didn't ask to be born, I'm not gonna ask to die just yet.

When city-life gets too hectic and soul-crushing I hit the road, like a wandering Wing Chun Taoist mendicant tramp, ready to fight off redneck bushwhackers, irate cops and crazed ICE addicts. I adventured to the north coast of New South Wales, Lismore, Byron Bay and Nimbin, the Aussie rain forests, volcano calderas and Aboriginal meeting-place vibes. For a week I was hanging around Lismore town and had nothing to do at night except go to the movies.

I saw “Hercules” and was knocked out by Dwayne Johnson’s vivid version of the mythic hero, the benign leader, strong, honest, brave, wise, just, an almost godlike man that a fearful populace dreams of to lead them in times of war. Possibly he’s a role model for the warrior spirit needed for confrontation when a force for evil is rending asunder the world.

I enjoyed the movie immensely, it was done in the mold of old Hollywood ‘sand and sandals’ epics: perfect action photography, elaborate art direction and a muscle-bound charismatic lead actor, but with better special effects; the story opens with the amazing giant beasts Hercules defeats in his twelve labors, awe-inspiring in their larger than life ferociousness. I wondered if it wasn’t about the rise of civilization and the conquest of nature; then, once a civilization has been established, it’s all about what kind of political system gets to rule it, democracy or tyranny, secular or religious. And if a zealous tyranny arises and threatens freedom and life with the most egregious insane cruelties, then the integrity of the warrior spirit has to be shining with forthrightness to counter it. Hercules stands in for that hope, that dream endeavor.

Still lost in the space-warped town of Lismore, the next night I saw “Guardians of the Galaxy”, another tale of superior genes and tech-augmented heroes out to save the world from a deadly tyranny: ravage by a black-robed, vandal, medieval space-Goth and his army. These Guardian warriors are savvy, courageous, skilled, spunky, hip progenitors for a fun, thriving universe. The dark forces of evil have to be defeated or it’s the end of the rational, just, joyful civilization as we know it. 

This gang of attractive, wise-cracking space-freaks are the pop-stars hoping to inspire this generation in 2014 to keep up the good fight, just like in “Star Wars”. Popular movies often irradiate us with the zeitgeist of the times; all those alien invasion movies of the last twenty years, swarms of hideous inhuman monsters that must be annihilated… what do they represent? Bacteria, viruses, mass murderers, religious maniacs, crazed ideologies, terrorists? Or armed to the teeth imperialists trying to wipe out indigenous tribes whose lands they hope to appropriate. (Of the latter I'm thinking of movies such as "Star Trip Troopers" and "Avatar".)

I’m babbling on about this nonsense because I’m trying to defend myself against accusations of being a violent little dickhead, considering my many flip-outs, verbal and vitriolic, the fisticuffs and kicks to the guts. I did indeed get with the beat, get beatific, get beat-up and beat down till I couldn’t get up again. This is what boys do, what they’ve done for millions of years, for all that it’s politically incorrect: not taking insult lightly, getting tough, skilled, brave. With an opponent of the same size, weight and age it can be an honorable fight, like in a sport, such as kickboxing.

No weapons, unless outnumbered, no dirty fighting like biting and gouging, and no cowards’ punches from behind or out of nowhere for no good reason. When tempers flare, when honor is spat upon, when danger threatens, hitting out sometimes happens, it’s no big deal, most boys quite enjoy it, within reason it’s quite exhilarating. I’m not talking about punches thrown in a drunken rage, being beaten senseless, or picking on the vulnerable and out-numbered, there has to be some rules, some honor. I like to think of them as “the Queen’s Rules”.

There’s the rub, some have no honor and don’t know where to draw the line, and thus many get murdered. I’m not a bad guy, I’ve never really hurt anyone, just a few bitch-fights and bitch-slaps actually. I was a conscientious objector in the '60s but even if I’d been conscripted into the army for Vietnam I would’ve been in the Medical Corps and tried to save lives. Still, one has to stick up for oneself, or be a doormat otherwise.

Peaceniks and Ghandi 'Ahimsa' followers, (non-violence protesters), would be shocked by my beat-up stories, it’s no solution and just adds more to the bad vibes in the world. And I agree, I don’t run around starting fights for no reason, (for all I’m amused by Bukowski’s rambunctious ‘tear the world a new ass-hole’ attitude), sometimes aggression got pushed in my face and I couldn’t wimp out. There are principles, standards and righteous causes to fight for.

It happens at every level of society, politicians punching on in parliaments across the world, sportsmen brawling in stadiums and movie-stars wrangling with paparazzi on the streets. Recently in Auz one of our most respected citizens, a multi-billionaire, James Packer, got into a stoush with a one-time best friend outside his house, both of them grown men wrestling to the ground throwing punches in every direction, and people just shrugged, boys will be boys.

Not many weeks later, on the Isle of Ibiza, super-stars were partying and in the middle of the celebrations, Orlando Bloom punched out Justin Bieber who’d made some lewd comment about Miranda Kerr, Bloom’s ex-wife, and a bunch of other bored stars cheered him on. Hmmm... the rich, the famous, the deadbeat, even peace and love freaks can hit back, when circumstances dictate.

I think of those times in my own life when I had to fight back or go down and be swept away. When the skinhead gang attacked us at Pyrmont Squats, I had to fight for my life as well as my property. When a drunken punk fought me to the death in the gutter outside a rock club, when a thug banged me on the head with a rock at a late-night homo beat, when a thief held a knife to my throat demanding my wallet, my reflex instinct was to hit out as hard as possible, to ward them off. To be in the middle of violence, cringe cowardly, run away crying and leave my friends to destruction, that wasn’t in my nature. Such as in Goa when Prem was being murdered. I stood by him, yelling my demands to the thugs to stop their brutality, ducking the swipes with their iron bar, till his tormentors let up and marched away; I needed the warrior spirit to hang in there, to not be paralyzed afraid, to not live in fear.

It is possibly true that due to my father beating me in my childhood I developed an “oppositional defiance disorder” so that I have a combative approach to existence and disgruntlement towards any kind of authority. But it’s not just day to day struggles that I’m overcoming, I can handle them with aplomb, sometimes really big values and freedoms are threatened. Hard tyrannies can arise which need opposing: Hitler and Nazism in the 2nd World War for instance. He and his cabal planned for a thousand year Third Reich in which the world’s minorities would be exterminated and everybody else enslaved to the Aryan German machine. There were many who preached appeasement and would blithely have sat back, watched the slaughter from afar, and prayed it never knocked on their door. But half the world fought Nazism, with difficulty, painfully, so that us here in the future could be free. It was a righteous fight.

As a peacenik it’s hard for me to support any kind of war, violence begets violence, and wars involving invasion have failed spectacularly of late. But sometimes the opposing force is so resolutely against reason and so vicious, so cruel, their evil must be countered with an even greater resolve and sense of justice. When one zealous group’s fucked-up, fixated idea of how the world should be run becomes a force so strong it will inevitably knock on one’s own door, then some pro-active strength is called for to stop it in its tracks. I'm thinking of Iraq and the ISIS State here.

At least those on the ground, standing up to murder, should be helped, with aid-drops for sure, and resistance-training, not getting too militarily involved as there will always be collateral damage, of citizens, women and children: who can solve the complex hatreds of the Middle East? Certainly not with troops on the ground, Afghanistan proved the futility of invasion, the Taliban are already swarming back in and only the Afghanis themselves can sort it out, with a little guidance from their friends. Getting involved in Middle-Eastern turmoil is like putting one's foot in a mince-meat machine. Still, crazed head-choppers should get their karma, it's spineless cruelty to ignore their mass-murder, running away and ignoring the suffering of the Iraquis, Yazidies, Kurds, Syrians etc is both cowardly and cruel.

It's a terrible conundrum, to stand up for one's values or turn the other cheek, fight or watch from a distance, be a warrior or a wimp. I know the Powers that be have other agendas, like control of petroleum supplies, geo-political influence and quashing of dissent. I'm certainly against extra surveillance and draconian penalties for perceived infringements against "the war on terror", as most likely they will be used to screw me. One of my best friends is Moslem, like the majority, he is peace-loving and law-abiding, but I could get busted just because I speak with him once a week on the phone. But sometimes in history there is a real foundation for a just fight; if certain father-fuckers are left to run amok we'll all be wearing black bags on our heads in the not so distant future and having our heads sawed off.  Obviously I struggle with these notions, I just hate to be a pussy.

It's easy to be an armchair warrior but I'm so afraid of nuclear war, it's a big part of my ongoing neurosis. I suppose if left to themselves the fighters of  Iraq will split the country into two, half Sunni and half Shiite. My biggest paranoia is the blackguards of ISIS will overrun Iraq, get into Lebanon and Jordan and have a go at Israel. The Taliban of Pakistan have declared their alignment with the murderous zealots and if ISIS can help Pakistan fall into chaos they could get their hands on one of the many nuclear missiles being trundled around the country on trucks. 

Then a nuclear war could indeed break out, involving Israel and India, and the whole world will suffer, it would be the end of civilization as we know it, exactly what those medieval bastards want. The Kurds, Yazidis, Christians, and other minorities are crying out for help and it's hard for me to think, "forget about it." I really want them to be aided. And defeating the ISIS. caliphate seems an absolute necessity, but maybe I'm a fuckwit who doesn't understand military affairs. Thankfully the Iraqui forces/govt is forging ahead mostly under its own power and is slowly but surely defeating ISIS. 

A truly tragic pity is America joining in with air-attacks and killing civilians in imprecise bombings, the whole area, including Syria, becoming part of a new not so  Cold War between Russia and the USA. That's the major flaw of WAR, it spreads, like a disease, and mostly takes civilians with it, and is actually a proxy contest over world domination between super-powers. The violent side of the chimpanzee in us takes over and will be the end of our species, given nuclear proliferation.

In my own environment of Auz I am faced with the tyranny of CLASS, the rich oppress the poor, have us in the gutter with services such as health that grow shoddier by the day, the environment destroyed, indigenous Aussies incarcerated and equal rights for everyone crushed. This is an ongoing battle that needs fighting by whatever means, and not wimping out on, one that is appropriate and needful for future generations to get quality of life. In the USA the Gray Man, the great tyrant, is arising, a billionaire running the world for other billionaires, and he needs fighting, implacably, or the world will really be fucked. And this calls for the "warrior spirit" to arise and defeat the forces of fascism that once again threaten to enslave us all.

While I was up the coast I visited my favorite haunt of Nimbin, strange attractor for anything “freaky”, site of many of my wanderer’s joyful dalliances. In the wee silent hours of the night, someone put a match to the centre of the town and burnt the heart of their world down, the museum and the Rainbow Cafe; their genii loci got buried for awhile, but sure as the sun rises, the town will resurrect, as it contains the fighting spirit. Why not? The hippies of Nimbin are sometimes enamored of Carlos Castenadas’ dreamed-up philosophy, with its “Way of the Warrior”, walking Nature’s multi-verse harmoniously and taking on all life’s contingencies with guts, brains and heart. That's what I plan to do.

If you enjoyed this story please go to the WEB address above and consider buying my book of tales about growing up anarcho-queer, rock and roll punter and mystic adventurer in Australia and India of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.