The principle of the armed citizen

I wrote this in response to something Kevin Thomasan wrote on Facebook.

Many of those who oppose firearms ownership by the common citizen cannot fathom that government actually WILL at some point cause them harm. They honestly believe that at a basic level, mankind has good intentions, and with the right laws and the right people in the halls of government, peace will be achieved, no one will need weaponry, and we will all live in harmony.

This is a complete blindness to the truth; mankind is at his heart evil, the natural state of power is to augment itself. Left unchecked and unchallenged by the ability of the individual to enforce their will, human governments will expand their power to the point of tyranny and totalitarianism, no matter how well-meaning they were to begin with. The only check in such a chain of events is the threat of retaliation by the oppressed, and retaliation of such significance as to depose those who would dare to oppress them.

The questioning of the need for a citizen to possess military-grade small arms is BLIND to this fact. There is a need for the balance of power to be maintained, for force be balanced with force. The check of government authority as envisioned by the founders of the United States is the armed citizen, and citizens armed in sufficient manner to bring force equal to that with which they might be oppressed. At the time the nation was founded, colonists were armed on an equal footing with British troops, and that was one of the major factors that allowed the colonists to no longer be colonists, but free men.

The principle of equal force is not that violence WILL occur, but that the cost of oppressing the citizen will be too great to justify the potential gain, and may result in a total loss of power for the individual responsible for instigation. It is about potential, not about actual violence.

If you are the sort that wants ‘social justice’ and ‘equality’, then you are intellectually dishonest if you believe that the social injustice of the citizen being unequal in their ability to enforce their will against an oppressor is somehow morally superior to an armed citizen acting as a check to the potential tyranny of their government.

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Deployment, week four.

I’m officially one month into my deployment.

Honestly, it’s not what I expected.  I imagined a much harsher environment, a heavier workload, and a more rigid military atmosphere.

As it is, the work is light, the weather is decent (not unlike what I see in mid-spring at home), and the professional level isn’t cranked through the roof like I was expecting.

As a 7-level crew chief(Skill level; you start 3 and work up to 12, odd numbers only), the majority if my work consists of walking around the aircraft after it lands and inspecting it to ensure that it is ready for another flight.  We call this a walkaround, not surprisingly.  Part of the walkaround is to inspect both the intake and exhaust section of the engines, making sure that there is no damage or fatigue that would pose a safety issue during operation. This has been the majority of my work while I’ve been here, and it doesn’t take very long, about 2 hours per shift, depending on how many aircraft I’m assigned to ‘catch’.

The rest of the shift is killing time; watching movies, playing cards, eating breakfast and lunch and the occasional workout session in the gym.  It’s actually a bit frustrating to do so little work.  The schedule does change to the point that we’re busy out of our minds and the stress level is insane, but right now it’s ridiculously slow.

Christmas came and went with few clues that it was actually there, save for the fact that the chow hall put on a nice spread that day.  Pot roast, turkey, and cake was the fare.  It was pretty well done, considering it was all made in a military cafeteria.  There were a number of events that were held, like a cardboard boat regatta in the swimming pool, relay races, ball games and so forth, but being on the night shift, I was either too tired to partake or already in bed while they were being held.

Care packages have absolutely flooded our workcenter; an entire pallet was delivered recently from an organization called Defenders of Freedom.  The boxes contained toiletries, greeting cards from their senders, and an inordinate amount of candies and snacks.  We are up to our eyeballs in cookies, candy and other items.  The cards were hung up on the walls, along with a large banner with all five armed services seals and hundreds of well wishes and signatures.  Some of them are professing love for the troops(one in particular was addressed ‘to all the hotties’), and I can’t help but wonder what their signers look like.  The break room looks pretty festive as a result.  I’ll miss it when someone decides it’s time for all the decorations to come down.

I turned 36 the other day, and I had to ponder what I’ve done with myself in life as I’ve reached the point that I’m closer to 40 than I am to 30.

I haven’t done half bad, but I can’t help but feel that I could have done better for myself.  It’ll be hard to be hired for any decent paying position past the age of 40 without a college degree, and I’ve got very few college credits.  Somehow in the next four years, I should do something to change that.  I really need to get the ball rolling on my airframe and powerplant certificates, and work toward getting at least an associate’s degree.  I’ve got the opportunity to go to school when I get back, but whenever I think of it, that old pit forms in my stomach – I can’t stand classroom environments, I’ve always been a horrible student, and I don’t want to spend years in  school with no clear-cut promise of any benefit.

It needs to be done.  I have to tackle this or I’ll spend the rest of my life wondering if things might have been different.  The same wall that I was staring at when I was debating going into the Air Force has presented itself, only this time, there’s no clear path to travel down, there’s no initial hurdle that prepares you for the rest, there’s simply a headlong dive into the seeming oblivion of academics.  Some sort of plan, some sort of roadmap, a manual of standards and how to survive the task would be a huge help.  I honestly have no idea where to begin or what options to choose, and I’m not sure if I’m going to like any of those options, either.  Every time I’ve talked to people about it, they want me to do it their way, they assume that I’m the same sort of student they were, that I will be able to approach things the same way they did.  I’m fairly certain that I have to use my own approach, and to do that, I have to figure out what on earth that is.

It just seems to be far too big of an obstacle to scale in order to get where I want to go.

For now, I’ve got a few months to think, to prepare, to sort my mind out before I’m thrown back home to reality: unemployment. I’m enjoying the fact that just about everything I need is provided free of charge right now, and for the moment, even my income is tax exempt.

This is the carrot that I’m dangling in front of myself, I envision myself in one of my best suits, behind the wheel, tooling along on a cross-country road trip without a care in the world, a good job feeding my wallet:

1937 Plymouth Business coupe

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Deployment, week three.

Three weeks in, and I’ve settled into a routine to the extent that not much occurs in the day-to-day here that’s particularly out of the ordinary.

I have, on the positive side, found that the chapel has a social area that serves real coffee, screens ‘family’ movies around the clock, and is a great place to meet people from all walks of life.  The most interesting person I’ve met so far is a Catholic gentleman who works there – we’ll call him Geoff(not sure if I should use real names for OPSEC reasons) – I believe he may be a priest, who originally hails from Turkey and is now a U.S. citizen.  He has a very jovial and friendly nature and he’s fun to talk to.  He’s had an interesting life, judging from some of the conversations we had.

There are Muslim services here as well, and I’ve met a service member who is a Muslim while at the Haven(the name for the chapel’s social area).  While we weren’t in each other’s company long enough to exchange greetings(I didn’t get his name), he got along well with everyone, especially Geoff.  The crowd at the Haven more or less all stay in the same room and socialize with each other regardless of their faith. It’s a reminder that our military is a reflection of our country, we are an extremely diverse culture.  I’ve not heard the term ‘melting pot’ in reference to the United States in quite some time, and I do wonder if we’ve unintentionally become more polarized and segregated culturally in my lifetime.  Some will take issue with me on this, but no ill is meant by it – it’s simply an observation based on my experiences.  I could be wrong, and I hope that I am.

I modified my schedule so that I get up early enough to shower, shave, get into uniform, and walk across the compound to the chapel for a cup of coffee before I hit the bus stop and ride off to work.  I swing by to abuse the wi-fi and socialize after work.  It’s a pretty good racket.

I took some time during my last day off to clean up the tent a little.  Since the tents are meant as transient housing and most people don’t stay there for long, they’re fairly abused and disorderly. The cleaning involved breaking down two beds and moving them out of the way, freeing up some space.  I moved a third bed and assembled another cubicle using some of the vacant space, in case we get another airman in soon.  I’ve actually managed to convince my deployment manager to let me stay in the tent for the duration, as I’ve got plenty of room. I’ve managed to clean up and organize my cubicle rather well, and there’s a fairly better margin of privacy compared to the other accommodations, thanks to the blanket ‘walls’ that have been set up.  I’m also the ranking individual in the tent, so I have the luxury of being able to do what I want without anyone bugging me about it or questioning my reasoning.  That cuts both ways; if the airmen in my tent are late to work, I’ll probably get some grilling about why I didn’t ensure they made it in on time.  One of them I don’t have to bother about anything, the other two vary between ‘problem child’ and ‘young and dumb’.  No significant problems yet, but I’m keeping a close eye on them.  I actually welcome the responsibility, and would like to push myself a bit further with regard to leadership.

I really need to hit the gym.  I had a bit of a scare last week when I did a short workout session in an attempt to get back into the habit of working out often.  This was my first time working out in close to three months.  I finished my workout early, intentionally cutting it short so as to not overdo it.  When I returned back to my work center, I started feeling nauseous, lightheaded and dizzy.  I tried to make my way to the restroom in case I became ill, and had to immediately sit down because I started to black out.  One of my squadron supervisors happened to walk by while I was attempting to recover, and he immediately noticed that I was very pale.  He got me a Gatorade and some cookies to bring up my blood sugar, and within 15 minutes I was myself again.  Evidently it’s been so long since I’ve worked out on a regular basis, that my body wasn’t used to the demands for blood sugar after a workout.  I’ve noticed a definite decrease in mass, as well…all that muscle I put on when I was getting regular (mandatory)workouts while I was on orders has more or less disappeared.  I’ve lost about 10 pounds, and I’m back to my old noodle-armed, chicken legged self.  I hate my Jack Russell terrier metabolism for that. I’m thankful that I haven’t put on the typical middle-aged spread at nearly 36 (Yep, I’ll be 36 in less than a week…), but for crying out loud, if I don’t pound the weights and consume protein like a maniac, my body quickly consumes itself.  It’s depressing and annoying.  My phlegmatic personality doesn’t help, as I really lack the drive to ‘hulk out’ like so many of my compatriots.  It’s a lot of work for very slow, almost imperceptible returns.

Goal for tonight:  Hit the gym during downtime with a co-worker and try round two, after getting some appropriate food into my gullet.

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Deployment, week two.

I’ve finally in-processed, the checklist that had me running from building to building trying to collect signatures proving I’d done what Uncle Sugar wanted me to do has been completed and handed in.

I’m officially here.  I’ve settled into my schedule and work routine, and it’s nowhere near as hectic or energy-sapping as I expected.  I’m getting off easy, frankly.

I’ve made slow, careful improvements upon my living situation and I’ve got it set up pretty darn well at this point.  I found a scrap of carpet to put in the entryway of the tent, over the 1/4″ of mud caked on underneath.  A BX opened on base, putting to rest the shopette that has been here since the base’s opening.  I had the distinction of being one of the last few that patronized that establishment.  I went into the BX on the day it opened and managed to snag a 4′ x 6′ rug for my cubicle that was the perfect size to put in the middle of the floor.  Now I can walk around barefoot and change my shoes without having to stand on a piece of plastic.  It doesn’t seem as if this would really make a big difference, but the quality of life that comes with being able to come and go at will without having to constantly worry about making the floor worse or putting your feet in dirt is a big thing. Yesterday my unit deployment manager asked me if I wanted to move into the permanent dorms, and I declined.  I’ve got plenty of space, I’m set up, and very few people bother me.

I’ve got used to the ambient noise.  The screaming jets are barely noticeable now, and I don’t really notice people walking by having loud conversations anymore.  On the downside, an airman moved into the tent and took the cubicle right next to me, and I mean right. next. to. me. His bed is directly on the other side of the blanket wall from mine. The first night, I was awakened by a bump, the sound of a clothespin being dislodged(that’s what the walls are held up by) and a sleepy, “You there?”  C’mon, dude.  I didn’t answer, just rolled over.  Five minutes later, I decided to move the bed a bit – about half of a foot – away from the wall.  That seemed to solve the problem.  When I got up later, I added another layer to the wall and refined the placement of the bed.  No more issues.  My other neighbor is moving out, into the dorms.  That will free up his massive cubicle and hopefully the airman will move over there.

The Harlem Globetrotters put on a performance, and I managed to catch it on my day off.  It was great!  The sense of humor and sportsmanship was something you rarely see anymore, and the legendary ball-handling skills of the team didn’t disappoint.  They had a few fun audience participation bits, with the audience near me getting drenched by a bucket of water at one point.  I got a souvenir program autographed by all the players – something to throw in a scrapbook.

My smallpox vaccination scab finally came off, leaving a rather unsightly scar that will likely fade with time.  Another smaller scab formed, which hopefully will be gone by the time the pool opens.  It’s been closed for a while for maintenance. We’re having a water bottle, duct tape and cardboard boat regatta soon, which involves making a two-person boat out of – you guessed it – empty water bottles, cardboard, and duct tape.  You have to complete a number of laps in the pool with your boat.  The same event, sans the water bottles, was held when I was in tech school, and I recall that my squadron’s boat, while not all that well-constructed, did place respectably and stayed afloat for the whole event.  I wouldn’t mind getting in on this one.

One of the things I’ve noticed due to its conspicuous abscence is the fact that nobody – and I mean nobody – is futzing with their cell phone here because they don’t work.  There’s no signal whatsoever.  Occasionally, I see them when someone decides to take a photo or they’re listening to music, but gone is the never-ending dance of thumbs on a screen and a head down, oblivious to the world.  People are forced to communicate with each other.  Oh, the irony! It’s a breath of fresh air and I’m going to miss it when I get home.

I’m getting along pretty well with those at my work center, and I’ve established some good working relationships with some fellow airmen.  Thanks to my experience and certifications, I’m considered critical to flightline operations and they keep me in reserve for the big stuff.  I’ve had the opportunity to lead a number of times in the past few weeks, and I grabbed it.

I’m hoping to make a few more friends here and expand my activities outside of work hours beyond eating, sleeping, watching movies and surfing the web. 13 weeks or so left!

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