By Gary Z McGee
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
Courage is the leveraging tool that leads to social leveling mechanisms. It doesn’t take courage to blindly follow the chain of command (manmade laws), but it does take courage to question them (using universal laws). True leadership is founded upon it.
Whether you are a green recruit fresh off the boat or a salty veteran guiding the boat, questioning the chain of command is essential for the healthy evolution of the “tribe”. In order to get past the outdated notion that we need an overreaching state or blind, sycophantic order-followers to keep it all afloat, we must gain the courage to question and even break the arbitrary laws laid down by our forefathers.
That’s where V.A.S.T. (Veterans Against State Tyranny) comes in. V.A.S.T. is a call to arms, a rallying cry against the preservation of injustice for the extension of justice. It’s a courage-based manifesto against fear-based cultural conditioning. It’s a checks and balancing mechanism against overreaching power constructs. It tosses a wrench into the chain of obedience, revealing that the questioning power of each individual link is more powerful than the collective contentedness of the chain.
V.A.S.T. is a rallying cry to all veterans to honor their oath to protect this country against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Not in a violent way (sans the January 6th insurrection) but in a nonviolent way, as a symbol for freedom.
As it stands, most veterans don’t understand the power they have. Furthermore, most veterans don’t understand that the society they fought for is profoundly sick. They don’t realize that it’s “no measure of health to be well adjusted” to it. But they adjust to it anyway. Whether out of ignorance, cultural pressure, political programming, or blind indoctrination.
Meanwhile, they don’t see how they have inadvertently reneged on their oath: to protect the country against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. A profoundly sick society is itself a domestic enemy, more detrimental to the health of our species (let alone our nation), than any foreign faction ever could be.
The solution is to discover the root cause of the sickness. How do we know that we live in a profoundly sick (unhealthy) society? Easy. Any society that pollutes the air it breathes, the water it drinks, the food it eats, and the minds it engages with, is a profoundly sick society.
V.A.S.T. is a battle cry to veteran leaders to honor their oath and to take responsibility upon themselves to discover the root of the sickness and then be proactive about digging it up.
Two entrenched and corrupt roots at the heart of our sick society are the Prison Industrial Complex and, ironically, the Military Industrial Complex. Yes, the very entity that created us veterans and established our oath is a very real part of our sickness.
This is what makes V.A.S.T. a revolutionary approach to revolution. The fact that we are veterans speaking out against the system that created us should put more clout behind our actions and words. We were in the “belly of the best” afterall. We know what worked and what didn’t. We all know that our military is bloated, overreaching, and outdated. We all know that it is too big for its own good. We know how lazy, incompetent, and corrupt the chain of command is. On some level, we all know—veterans and civilians alike—that it needs to be moderated; that too much money is going into overpriced war machines, and not enough into the individual pocketbooks of veterans and civilians.
Companies like Haliburton, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon have a monopoly on military spending, and they show no signs of relenting. Why would they? War, or the illusion of war, is big business. And usually at the expense of the people.
Meanwhile, we have an oversized military stretched too thin across the globe, overly focused on foreign affairs while domestic affairs disintegrate. There is no money left for what matters most: education, health, infrastructure, and domestic freedom.
As active-duty military members, we were probably less likely to sound any alarms because the benefits were so good. Why bite the hand that feeds you? Plus, the fear of court martial, dishonorable discharge, and the loss of benefits was too high a cost to pay. So, veterans, those who have survived the belly of the beast, are our best hope.
Veterans alone have the time, the knowledge, and the wherewithal to act on behalf of our country’s domestic freedom. Thus, V.A.S.T. is foremost about changing minds and waking people up to the level of tyranny that surrounds them. But it is also about vigilante justice. Someone needs to prevent power from becoming absolute so that it doesn’t corrupt absolutely. That’s where V.A.S.T. comes in as a checks and balancing mechanism on the Powers That Be. Someone needs to police the police. Someone needs to keep the “guards” honest.
Who will guard the guards? V.A.S.T. will. Who will check overreaching violent policing and teach more localized nonviolent policing instead? V.A.S.T. will. Who will turn the tables on the failed war on drugs by advocating for rehabilitation over incarceration? V.A.S.T. will. Who will flip the script on Profit Prisons by bringing awareness to the fact that the U.S. is the most incarcerated nation on the planet only because it unjustly incarcerates nonviolent people for petty crimes? V.A.S.T. will.
As Tom Brokaw said, “The hard work of constantly improving life on this precious planet requires people willing to put their boots on the ground, get their hands dirty, and spend their nights in scary places.”
Leading by individual example is far superior to leading by fiat. Likewise, voting with your feet is far superior to voting at the corrupt ballot box. V.A.S.T. personifies voting with one’s feet.
What does it mean to vote with your feet? It means putting your foot down and being a proactive citizen. It means becoming your own politician, despite career politicians (Obama/Biden) or golden-spoon-fed plutocrats (Trump). It means turning the tables on the Powers That Be by hitting the streets (Twitter/Facebook/YouTube) and creating a little civil disobedience that shames and mocks the current power dynamic and untenable status quo. It means voting with your money and using it to move things forward in the direction that best moves us toward a healthy and progressive evolution for our species. It means voting with your art and planting healing seeds of curiosity into the rigid soil of certainty.
There are too many people suffering from the overreaching power of the state to simply wait for the state to correct itself. The freedom of too many people have been taken away from the state to simply hope that outdated, immoral, and unjust laws will somehow be replaced with updated, moral, and just laws. Voting doesn’t work. Waiting for change from the inside doesn’t work. As James Bovard said, “Elections are vastly overrated as a means of restraining government abuses.”
What works is nonviolent social levelling mechanisms. What works is voting with our feet. What works is drawing a line in the sand and forcing the state to become aware that our tolerance for abuse only goes so far. What works is standing up against both the Military and Prison Industrial Complex. And there is no more powerful a symbol of leadership than the Veteran.
Let’s come together. Let’s get our fellow veterans off the streets by giving them a worthy cause to fight for. Let’s unite under the banner of honor, courage, and commitment. Commitment to digging our sick society out of its sickness.
We do this by scaling back on both the Military and Prison Industrial Complex while also focusing on the four main things causing our sickness: polluted air, polluted water, polluted food, and polluted minds. Scaling back the two Complexes will help alleviate the four sicknesses because it would funnel money into education, health, infrastructure and domestic freedom while keeping it out of the hands of corrupt companies with the monopoly on keeping the society sick for a profit.
V.A.S.T. is about putting the Powers That Be on blast. It’s about giving a voice to the voiceless. It’s about turning the attention of the nation away from foreign nations and focusing on becoming healthy rather than powerful. It’s about coming together as a unified force, utilizing our military experience and influence to wake people up to the level of sickness in our society and then being proactive about finding and implementing solutions.
This will require veterans to have the courage and capacity to be social leveling mechanism against the power of the corporate state. It will require nonviolent rebels, mavericks, outlaws, ninjaneers, and revolutionaries with heart, who have the mettle to flip scripts, think outside the box, and turn the tables on authority. All while guarding against the urge to be violent. For violence just gives authority a legitimate excuse to control us. It is only through nonviolence that we can wrest health out of the jaws of our sick society.
Don’t be a cowardly lamb waiting for the wolves to decide your fate. Rise above the “need” for safety and security at the expense of freedom and liberty. Become a well-armed lamb contesting all votes and then be proactive by voting with your feet. Better yet, become a courageous lion despite the odds. Dare yourself and other veterans to become David staring down the hyperviolent Goliath of the state.
About the Author:
Gary Z McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide-awake view of the modern world.
This article (V.A.S.T.: A Revolutionary Approach to Revolution) was originally created and published by Self-inflicted Philosophy and is printed here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Gary Z McGee and self-inflictedphilosophy.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this statement of copyright.