UniversiTea with the Humanists Doing Good in Colorado

I had the chance to speak at one of the local humanists events a few months ago.  Below are the topics covered and just a few of the highlights from the conversations that followed.

Military

  • Working with military and veterans
    • There is a difference between military and civilians when it comes to a work environment.
    • Military, from my observations, have a different way and different culture that is ok when it comes to working with others.  Military will expect those around them to know the job they are assigned to do and how to do that job.  We are also trained to understand that we may have to do the job of those above or below us.  Understanding and being able to do the job above yours is what got me into trouble in my current employment.
    • Busy work is despised when it comes to simply filling time.  spending hours cleaning, stripping paint, painting, preparing for war, and so on has build a distaste for needless tasks like re-mopping an area that was just mopped.  In these cases we will tend to work much slower and use that power to show a kind of disrespect toward whomever tasks us with that task.
    • It was brought up that most of what we talked about could be compared to shared experience.  Not only a shared experience type of setting but also the upbringing of each other.  One member stated that his upbringing has played into his discipline in taking care of others.
    • Talking about transiting from one chapter to another, substance abuse is the topic, there has to be some sort of training that will indoctrinate the person as to how to act around others and not become selfish.
  • Differences between civilian and military
    • There are certain things that military have gone through that act as a kind of glue.  When you talk to a vet or active duty member, you know that they have spent time being beaten down and then built back up on the same basic principles.  every member of the armed forces goes through boot camp and that is one thing that most civilians will never understand.
    • For that reason, most military can fight with one another and the next day carry on like there was never an issue.
    • There is an unspoken understanding between veterans and military personnel that should something happen then they will not be left behind or forgotten about.  This will play heavily when talking about a large workload or partying.
    • We talked about one experience that a fellow veteran had where a friend was left at the airport and he had to drive to get him.  He was later accused of drug use because of the drive and lack of sleep that hindered his next day’s performance.
  • Differences between moral or ethical standards
    • What is moral in the civilian world is very different when in a closed system such as the military.  There are many different actions that can and will be taken in the military that would be looked at as unethical or immoral in a civilian stance.
      • Wire brush experience
    • Shared a story about one of my shipmates that chose to never shower or wash his clothing.  The process that we used to change this behavior was to throw him into the shower and attack him what wire brushes.
      • This behavior was allowed and even endorsed by the chain of command.  Dealing with things at the lowest level meant that we were to deal with the issue ourselves and correct that deficiency using any means necessary.
    • The use of ostracism was one of the main tools that we used to correct issues that we were unable to solve otherwise.  One of the most utilized and overlooked of all tools that we were trained in.
    • The cycle perpetuates itself.  crossing the equator or passing through the arctic circle are huge hazing accomplishments.

Transition: Civ to Sol, Sol to Civ

    • The transition going from a civilian to a soldier is one that each member will go through.  Boot camp is something that each of us completes before being called a soldier.
    • Boot camp = breakdown of the civilian and then the rebuilding of the soldier
    • No transition from active to civilian.  When you get out you sign the DD214 and then walk out with just what you are wearing.  All gear is returned and that is the close of that chapter.  There is no training, military feels that it is a waste of time as they do not receive any benefit from the time spent.
  • Organizations for veterans
    • There are many different organizations for veterans.  There are two major problems with the way that they are set up.  Much money is spent on advertising leaving a lack of funding for the actual program.  Or on the flip side, there is no money spent on advertising and an excess of funding at the end of the year.
    • VETS CAFE
    • IVAW
    • Wounded Warriors
    • America’s Wounded
    • Welcome Home Montrose
    • VA Rehab center
    • VA hospital
    • Veterans Court (in the works for mesa county)
    • Voc rehab through VA
  • Reasons for ways of thinking
    • Everything we have already talked about
    • The culture is aggressive and the members are trained to think and act in a certin way that will allow others to learn the ways either by choice or through actions taken against them.
    • Trained to not show weakness.
    • Hazing
    • Physical abuse
    • Mental abuse
    • Ostracism
  • Post 9/11 compared to pre 9/11 veterans
    • PTSD
    • No Gulf War Syndrome
    • TBI
    • Civilian murders
    • First war fought in the streets (urban)
    • MTS

Environmental

  • Community gardening
    • Guy works over 12 plots in Denver (land that is not his but gained the approval to use), he is able to produce enough food for 33 employees and still sell $400 a week at the stand.
  • Guerrilla gardening
    • Using others land to grow food
    • Repurpose land usage to grow food
    • Grow food not lawns
  • Burn scars and the effect they are now having on the communities near Colorado Springs
    • Landowners near Co Springs are needing help with the burn scars.  The city is not willing to help the landowners pay to have mulch laid on the property.  They are laying mulch on the forest.  1600 an acre.  The burn scars have allowed the rain water to create mud flows that have washed out many of the private roads in the area.

I would like to hear the opinions of those in the group about the local police force as well as if anyone feels the nation is heading toward a society that is accustomed to dealing with violence in the community and if that is justification to allow officers to act with current levels of force.

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For my Brother

My brother and I have not seen eye to eye on many different occasions.  There are two that stand out as the main issues of our time.  There is much that we have each gone through that make us different from each other but as brothers we still share some of the same ideals.  That being said I will only go into one of the issues today.

As I have grown and gained much more experience in the past few years I have also gained the ability to see both sides of the story before making the decision on what I feel will lead to the better outcome in any given situation.  I am human and in being such I am at fault in my own ways but we seem to have butted heads on the issue of police more often than not.  As I was reading through some articles today another one popped up that sparked this.  The Sun Sentinel out of Ft. Lauderdale covered a story of a man who received 30K when a video contradicted the police report from the night he was arrested.  This is not the first story of its kind and it is not the last, but it should be.

This video and the comments that I shared as a reaction to this video are what caused the breakdown of our relationship.  I shared that there is an abuse of power and that I wish only once that the police officer that committed these acts would be met with the same amount of violence that they showed.  In response to this comment I got, “it saddens my heart to see you share something like this.”

A little background about myself and my brother, I am a veteran of the war on terror.  My ship flew more sorties before getting to the gulf than any other carrier had in the history of the U.S. Navy.  My brother is a police officer for a large metro area and has been on the force for ~10 years.

The next story that I will highlight is the recent shooting in NYC.  This shooting occurred killing two people and injuring nine others.  The suspect killed an ex-coworker and then fled the scene, two police officers followed and then when the suspect turned to engage police, they fired.  16 rounds were fired at the suspect, killing him and wounding nine bystanders.  This was in no case a mass shooting like we just had in Colorado but a lack of accountability on the officers for not doing the job, we as citizens, pay them for.  And in light of what seem to be daily shooting in America, how are we to expect that these officers will be held accountable for their actions?  we can not.  This fact that we will most likely see these officers get away with this is the one thing that makes me the saddest.  Having the knowledge that my children will grow up in a world that allows people to kill and wound others then walk away simply because they get to carry a gun and badge makes me angry.

This brave new world that we are creating where my children will fear police because of the actions they take rather than look toward them as someone who can help makes me depressed.  Being given the excuse that “I and the others I work with only want to help people protect their property” is one that I am unable accept.  The system is broken and it is admitted to being broken by those the statement was made about.  Working for the system thinking that there is a chance to change things from the inside is absurd.  When the brass from the department gets arrested this should show that there is no chance of change.  When a veteran State Patrol officer uses the excuse “I was not properly trained on Colorado search and seizure laws” and gets acquitted for murder, the system is broken.

There are now organizations that do nothing but try to keep police honest, as if they should need to be watched over like they were a for profit company.  Cop Block is one of the most active and has gained evidence against most major departments.  These organizations are now working on the front lines and gaining respect throughout the community with their tactics of documentation.  Everything from video recording a normal traffic stop to a journalist going undercover recording police and the violence shown through schools.

Now onto the assaults that are occurring against the mass’s.  There have been times throughout our history that civil unrests have been dealt with by means of brutal police actions and the protests that are occurring today are no different.  Just as the water cannons were used back in the 60’s the current police force is using means that are extreme at the least.  From a simple sit-in where the police force use riot cans to pepper spray kids or the most recent abuse of force in Anaheim CA police shootings.  Why do these people, the police, feel that following the orders of their supervisors is justification enough to break the codes that they have sworn to protect.  The military had problems similar to these awhile back and congress found that if an order is unlawful that it is the responsibility of the person receiving the order not to follow said order.  They stated that in the case where a soldier followed an unlawful order they were then required to accept the responsibility and the consequences of that action taken.  I fail to see the difference between military not following an unlawful order and a militaristic police force not following an unlawful order.  There is a lack of accountability on both sides the higher up the chain of command you go.

Re-learning how to survive in a civilian population is not something that is easy to do when coming out the military, there some things that veterans and active duty service members take for granted and one of those is the camaraderie that is felt between your self and the brothers and sisters that you served with.  The same can be said for a police force would be my guess.  I can no speak on this as it is out of my experience.  However, the ability to turn and not see what your brother is doing is an easy thing to do when everyone is close and shares the same experiences.  Taking a step back and spending some time reflecting on the choices that you have made and the actions taken in the name of others has done me well and may do the same for others.

For my brother whom I love, I hope this finds you well and you can gain an understanding of what and or why our issues are no larger than we make them.  In the words of a wise man, “be the change you wish to see in the world.”