About Waging Peace

Daniel Shea Marine 1968 Viet Nam "I" Co, 3dBN, 26th Marines - Quang Tri, Quang Tri Province & Phu Bia, Thua Thien Province Viet Nam Last Duty Station: Sep Cd. Co MB USNB Subic Bay Philippines A former VFP Board of Directors, serves on the Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign core committee, the Vietnam Full Disclosure Campaign Committee and is an active member of Portland Oregon VFP chapter 72. 1994 Dan was part of a U.S. Delegation to Cuba of FICO Pastors for Peace Caravan to End the US Embargo and in 2006 invited to the World Social Forum in Venezuela representing PCASC and VFP 72 as a speaker on the U.S. occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq and our meddling in the affairs of Latin America and to paint a mural. That same year Dan was a VFP delegates to the March 2006 Veterans Agent Orange Conference in Hanoi, Viet Nam. Dan is also a co-founder and executive director of Education Without Borders promoting critical thinking and problem solving through Art and Activism with a school project in Burundi Africa & local project providing donated books to prisoners – Portland Books to Prisoners. Dan is a member of the Warrior Arts Group http://www.warriorartgroup.com/ and works with all sorts of artists; Hip Hop/Spoken Word Poets, Singer Songwriters and Musicians who critique our maladies, our history while promoting peace and harmony. Dan works directly and in collaboration with a number of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans and currently hosts the monthly TV program Veterans for Peace Forum view link https://youtu.be/hnOh5z9YIkg of his most recent interview with Post 9-11 Veteran & Artist Trish Brownlee. Dan keeps a blog “Swallowed Mars & Choked: Once I swallowed Mars the God of War, Now I Wage Peace” sharing his poetry, art and essays at https://dsheavfp72.wordpress.com/ Dan’s most recent work is organizing a Vietnam Full Disclosure Teach-In (TBA Oct or Nov) at Portland State University and is working directly in collaboration with the Oregon Historical Society.

CLASS WARRIORS

Photo Art by Daniel Shea, May Day 2015

Photo Art by Daniel Shea, May Day 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Class Warriors
by Daniel Shea 4/30/14

International Workers’ Day
Is more than the celebration of
the Eight Hour Day and the remembrance
of the Haymarket Massacre
it is recognizing the Captains of Industry
declared War against the Working Class

Veterans For Peace
demands Peace and Justice for all
for it is the working class who are sent
to fight rich men’s wars

The warriors sent into battle are
grunts coming from the underpaid,
the unemployed, the immigrant, the poor
pawns for slaughter and killing
profits for industries of Death

Come Veterans For Peace fly your flags
support your brothers and sisters
economic justice is the cause of workers
the cost war is the ruin of workers’ pay
the price their blood, sweat & tears
their children lame and dead

War is the enemy of Workers everywhere
Demand Your Rights to Organize
Demand Life over Death, End All Wars
Defend Human and Civil Rights
Defend Our Planet against an Environmental Apocalypse
Defend Immigrant Workers & their Families
Not 1 More Deportation, Not 1 More War
Not 1 More Foreclosure, Not 1 More Job Lost
Not 1 More Step Backward

For “We shall not, we shall not be moved”

Bio

Papa D Shea & Kaylea Dawn

Papa D Shea & Kaylea Dawn

Daniel Shea
Marine 1968 Viet Nam

“I” Co, 3dBN, 26th Marines – Quang Tri, Quang Tri Province & Phu Bia, Thua Thien Province Viet Nam
Last Duty Station: Sep Cd. Co MB USNB Subic Bay Philippines

A former VFP Board of Directors, serves on the Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign core committee, the Vietnam Full Disclosure Campaign Committee and is an active member of Portland Oregon VFP chapter 72.

1994 Dan was part of a U.S. Delegation to Cuba of FICO Pastors for Peace Caravan to End the US Embargo and in 2006 invited to the World Social Forum in Venezuela representing PCASC and VFP 72 as a speaker on the U.S. occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq and our meddling in the affairs of Latin America and to paint a mural. That same year Dan was a VFP delegates to the March 2006 Veterans Agent Orange Conference in Hanoi, Viet Nam. Dan is also a co-founder and executive director of Education Without Borders promoting critical thinking and problem solving through Art and Activism with a school project in Burundi Africa & local project providing donated books to prisoners – Portland Books to Prisoners. Dan is a member of the Warrior Arts Group http://www.warriorartgroup.com/ and works with all sorts of artists; Hip Hop/Spoken Word Poets, Singer Songwriters and Musicians who critique our maladies, our history while promoting peace and harmony.

Dan works directly and in collaboration with a number of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans and currently hosts the monthly TV program Veterans for Peace Forum view link https://youtu.be/hnOh5z9YIkg of his most recent interview with Post 9-11 Veteran & Artist Trish Brownlee.

Dan keeps a blog “Swallowed Mars & Choked: Once I swallowed Mars the God of War, Now I Wage Peace” sharing his poetry, art and essays at https://dsheavfp72.wordpress.com/

Dan’s most recent work is organizing a Vietnam Full Disclosure Teach-In (TBA Oct or Nov) at Portland State University and is working directly in collaboration with the Oregon Historical Society.

My Position on Guns & the 2nd Amendment by Dan Shea

banksy_boy_gun_soqui_thumb_550x368
Banksy: Boy With A Gun

My Position on Guns and the 2nd Amendment

I was a Marine Machine Gunner in Vietnam, I had a 45. caliber pistol, these guns never left my sight or my side. These were weapons of war, weapons of aggression and defense in a firefight or ambush. I never had to use them in the short time I was there in 1968 end of August to end of October, at least that is what I tell myself as there is a lapse of memory after we entered a village full of booby-traps and death. That day is frozen, incomprehensible, lost in a fog of screams and silence. I can’t really say if I did not use my weapons of human destruction and this haunts me to this very day.

After Vietnam I had a strong aversion to personally owning a gun, though I had a shotgun for a number of years, which I thought would protect my home & family but it almost fell into the hands of a burglar that robbed my house. That is another story and in the end the police caught the thief but an old man died of a heart attack in the excitement of the chase through his yard.

Glad am I got over my fears and false sense of the need to have a gun. I decided I did not want to be in a position to kill another human being. Instead of owning a gun I would join our grassroots communities to fight for economic & political justice, for equal rights & for jobs, to help end the violence of poverty, thus reducing the danger of violent crimes & creating safer communities.

I see now the original intent of the 2nd Amendment was not to protect our freedom but to keep a people enslaved, it is time we become free & without guns see link:

http://www.truth-out.org/…/13890-the-second-amendment-was-r…

I know all the false arguments about guns for the proletariat, that is the position I held for most of my life. I am not a pacifist – I am not that strong or courageous, believe me they are fearless.

I said I did not want to own a gun because I didn’t want to kill another human being, that does not mean that I wouldn’t if my immediate family were in danger. I have in the past, even after Viet Nam picked up a gun to do exactly that, to protect my family, lucky no one was killed. I also don’t want to own a gun because as a PTSD vet – I would be more prone to use it on myself because I can barely stomach the crap people will spin to hold on to weapons of death of destruction in the name of some militant revolution to fight the government that they predict will comes to take their gun.

First: I am not advocating getting rid of all guns like hunters and maybe collectors. I am for sensible regulation, training, and licensing.

Second: Unless you are a machinist making your own gun, you’re are not a proletariat revolutionary but a consumer of a pro-for- profit military and gun manufacturing industrial complex.

Third: If you are afraid of our government’s trend toward Fascism and you should be, we are already living in a Fascist Police State – Black Live Matter can attest to that, but I haven’t seen the men with guns do a God damn thing about it. If guns were going to make a difference then they would already have been employed. It is not happening.

If you don’t believe me about the Fascist March of the Police State then read Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow” or Naomi Wolf’s “America Fascism” – If you are Black or Brown in America you are the ones that feel the sting of the blows, hear the slam of locked doors, that is if you survive without the summary execution on the streets by the pigs death squads. (yes and poor whites, homeless, and those suffering from mental illness too)

Thinking about arming and defending yourself? If you are a person of color you better not have a gun, go for your phone or wallet because you will be dead or in prison – the only folks privileged enough to get away with it, are White folks, Left, Right & Middle on the political spectrum.

Fourth: Most militants in Latin and Central America, Viet Nam, Africa and other places in the world, didn’t start their revolutions with guns, when they were finally forced to declared war – civil war against their oppressive governments they often stole their weapons from the police and military that came after them. Most of these military revolutionaries included deserted soldiers and officers that became underground organizations and Guerilla warriors – most failed in the end and those that won left a blood bath of innocents on their march to seize power.

Fifth: The most successful revolutions were not violent, in the book “Why Civil Resistance Works” for the first time we have empirical, peer-reviewed data studying every major civil war, revolution and social movement throughout the world since WWII. The answer: non-violence works twice as often as violence. If non-violence can bring down the USSR, the Mubarak regime in Egypt (even though it was eventually betrayed), and British rule in India, it can work most anywhere.

Sixth: If we are forced to resort to weapons for our self-defense, then we will need the proletariat machinists, the GI resisters and deserters, engineers, bomb makers, and skilled persons of every craft and profession who I believe have the intelligence and ingenuity to make guns and any kind of weapon that would be needed but in this kind of war, you will also need doctors, medics and nurses most of all, because nobody will come out of it, without blood on their hands – if they still have hands.

Oh you can make fun of the placard images of those holding a signs that reads “Real Men Don’t Need Guns” but regardless of if one is talking about himself – I would interpret that it means we should leave the “machismo spirit” of male power, military power whether male or female behind because fearless men and women don’t need guns.

I am not fearless, in fact I have more fear of owning a gun than not. I feel safer without having a gun and believe me – you are much safer without me having one and I would feel safer without you having one.

I don’t care if you do own a gun, for all the reasons I have already stated but don’t tell me you need them for the revolution cause I don’t see you taking out the racist police, the no justice district attorneys, corrupt judges. I don’t see you breaking down the doors of for profit prisons that enslave people for minor crimes and which are becoming debtor prisons. I don’t see you arresting the lawmakers in congress and the senate that wrote the laws to keep you down and steal your wages by legal theft to give to the rich, the banksters and the financiers of wall street in the biggest bailout in history.

I don’t see you marching on Washington with your guns locked and loaded when these scum in power close your children’s schools, steal from Social Security and refuse to repay their debts. Why do you allow them to send your children to illegal wars while their children for the most part go to college?

No I just don’t see where all these guns have contributed one iota to a free and democratic society.

A Day Burned in my Mind and Heart

A Day Burned in my Mind and Heart

Casey_MC.jpg


In Memory of Casey

December 16th 1977 my son Casey Allen Shea was born. Though we only had a few years together they were some of the happiest days of my life. They were never easy days because of your birth anomalies which I hold this government and Monsanto, DOW and all those who helped produce, manufacturer, approved and used Agent Orange in Viet Nam. I also hold myself responsible son for ever going and participating in a War, a war that killed and maimed children like you.

When around you and your sister Harmony I felt forgiven and could enjoy your laughter as you played.

When you left us on February 25th 1981 my heart was broken, it has never been the same and only the love of your mother and sister kept the rest of me from crumbling to dust and following you.

You are always with me and it is your voice that causes me to cry out for justice and peace, your voice that says we have so little time in this world that you must not waste it in hate and despair but work to repair what is broken or replace what is beyond repair.

The little time we had together made me a better man, a better father and now even a grandfather. I was never so happy, as when I held you and Harmony in my arms.

Happy Birthday Son
Casey we miss you sooooo very much.

Love Papa

WHO IS A JEW? A Response to the slaughter of GAZA.

IMG_0348 GAZA protest
Who is a Jew?
A Response to the slaughter of GAZA.
by Daniel Shea 7/12/14
photo by Jim Lockhart

In the 1980s after the death of my three year old son Casey (a victim of my exposure to Agent Orange) my heart was ripped from my chest, it killed me.

I  became part of the living dead, a ghost pretending to live, going through the motions of waking,  eating,  off to work, then home again to repeat the process of a mediocre existence.

Despair became so unbearable that while looking for a way forward I found myself studying Judaism and joined a class at a reform synagogue.

I was moved by inspirational histories,  literature, Rabbinical dialectics and a people who had the nerve to question the actions of their own god and beg mercy for the lives of those from Sodom and Gomorrah.

I learned  these parables are a way of teaching critical theory not literal stories from some magical deity in an imagined spiritual dimension where he/she/it dreams of our existence.

I converted to Judaism and found a home for my own ideas of morality,  a place for challenging bigotry, hate,  injustice and the meaning of being a Jew.

To be a Jew is knowing what it is not.  It is not a race, it is not a single culture,  it is not a nation. Some would reduce it to a religion but that I think clips it’s wings.  It is a school of thought, a philosophy of Socratic argument on questions like what is ‘good’ or what is ‘just’ and are there absolutes?

Thus Judaism is an educational discipline of discovering how to be a moral and loving human being without prejudice to other paths of discovery.

This is my conversion, I am no longer in need of synagogues, churches, nations or political parties only people who like me want to share this planet we live on in peace with our brothers and sisters and with an unpolluted nature.

To be human then is not to war, not to oppress, is not to occupy and it is not to kill – it is to nurture life,  to embrace it. Thus this is what it is to be a Jew.

Israel cannot be a Jewish nation because it has forfeited what it is to be a Jew. It’s claims are false, it’s rabbis ARE NOT teachers of critical thinking but narrow bigots who worship a false god – the State of Israel.

Jews living in Israel & the world over, reclaim your identity, make Israel stop its rain of death on the Palestinians of Gaza.

Daniel Shea a Jew
Veterans For Peace
more on the Israel/Palestine

http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/content/israeli-palestinian-conflict-101

Monkey Business: Subic Bay the Philippines

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Monkey Business: Subic Bay the Philippines
By Daniel Shea
October 13, 2013

It was late 1968 or maybe Jan of 1969 when I arrived at Sep Cd. Co MB USNB Subic Bay Philippines. Time has a way of fading into the background of one’s memories, maybe because it seemed like just yesterday and then we only lived in the moment.

I was a fresh combat marine, a machine gunner from the guerrilla warfare of Viet Nam, no more snipers, mortars or booby traps to contend with, no more humping mountain jungles in sweltering temperature of 90 to 100 plus degrees looking for death to strike from behind every tree, leaf, rock or bamboo thicket.

You would think this a welcome relief now to be so far away from the slaughter of war but you would be wrong. One worries about those left behind, those you shared survival with and what about my little brother who came into my same company and platoon, my brother who took my place as two brothers were not to serve together in combat. If he were to die and I to survive was a constant reminder of guilt no matter how unwarranted I had to bare.

Worries of the mind are different from the realities on the ground, thus there was some relief in this new duty station. Subic Bay was a naval station and we marines were guarding ammo bunkers out in the jungle. We walked posts alone in the jungle four hours on four hours off, twenty four seven for four days with two days off to play in the whore town of Olongapo city. It was a poor little barrio across a canal so polluted its smells permeated the whole city. Our only goal was to get drunk and get laid and forget we were in hell. As time went on I began to see that we were abusing these people just by our presence, because we saw them only as someone to serve our needs and desires. Empathy took hold of me as I realized that the young women were trapped in a sex trade made available to men of war, killers and criminals alike. Many of the women hoped to develop a longtime relationship with one of the regular marines or sailors in hopes of getting married and escaping the hell they were in.

Sorry but I am digressing from my story to the business of different sort, a business of corruption where I found no peace, it is a story that will have to be told some other time.

Peace for me was in the solitude of the jungle and my encounter with the Monkey King we called Brass Balls.

First let me explain something about how different were the jungles of Viet Nam and the Philippines. The jungles of Viet Nam that I knew had already been bombed from air, land and sea, set a blaze by napalm and flamethrowers, riddled with bullets and human remains, a jungle pre-soaked from chemical herbicides known as Agent Orange. While the canopy of trees could still blot out the sun and the brush so thick paths had to be carved out with machetes, still it was quiet, no chattering of birds or monkeys. Where once mighty tigers stalked their prey, tigers and prey were no more, the poisons and noises of war had killed or chased life out this ancient rainforest, there was now only a ghostly silence.

The only sounds were our boots on a dying earth, our heartbeats pounding in our ears and huffing breaths from our chests to remind us we were still alive. That and the bloodsucking vampires you know as mosquitoes and flies, showing no mercy, tortured the living.

Now the jungles of the Philippines were alive with all matter of life, the grunts of wild boars and water buffaloes, pythons big enough to swallow a man, birds of every feather and every squawk, tweet and whistle, monkeys calling to one another from the tree tops, fruit bats as big as man ruled the moonlit nights above a jungle that never sleeps. It was a jungle with certain dangers, every variety of poisonous snakes were underfoot or aloft in the branches, but for the marine on watch, walking his post, the most feared were the monkeys who didn’t take too kindly to our presence in their habitat.

I had been warned to stay clear of these furry men with canine teeth, they were known to have attacked a marine or two, of which many tales where told. One such story was about a monkey King marines called  Brass Balls for he feared neither man nor beast. It was said, a marine confronted him on his post, fired one round in the air to scare him off but BB kept coming at him, he shot he swears directly into him but the beast jumped into the air and landed on his rifle, BBs weight smashed the rifle into the ground and the final round went off and the terrified marine ran all the way back to the guard station refusing to stand guard ever again.

I thought the story was all smoke, just one of those jungle legends told to frighten the new guy. It had been months and I had many strange encounters while walking post in the kingdom of Brass Balls. Still I fell in love with the jungle, her mysteries, her symphony of sounds, her perfume of sweet blossoms, she even hid me from the world when I decide to take a nap out of the hot sun.

Yes, there were monkeys, I would see them from time to time, I would keep my distance and just watch them as they leaped from tree to tree foraging the various fruits, leaves or nuts within their reach. They moved through the jungle like a military operation, always with guards scouting out for dangers and steering a direction though this sea of green. Once I came across a troop of these monkeys, I watched them cross the road sending out guards two on one side of the road and two on the other side. They called out to the majority and they came out of the canopy of the trees and crossed the road all eyes and ears alert to any danger that might approach. I gathered up my courage and decided to follow them into the jungle, curious to see where it might lead. As I got farther from the road and deeper into the green I began to notice myself being surrounded as the guards where swinging through the branches to get behind me. Fear alerted me that I had better get the hell out of there or I might find myself in a heap of trouble. I raise my rifle to the ready and put a bullet in the chamber and slowly backed out until I found safety on the road again. I felt as though I had avoided an enemy ambush and was glad to have escaped without firing a shot.

This would not be my last experience with these ape men of this magical forest. One day on a hot summer afternoon I was walking my post when I saw a large troop of monkeys making all kinds of chatter, some up in the canopy of trees on my left and across the road over the fence others foraging bananas. One of the guards saw me coming and made such a holler all the troops to the left scrambled out the trees and took to the road and leaped over the fence. I kept moving forward thinking I had scared them off. When a whole army of monkeys charged the cyclone fence and clung to it and started shaking it in protest to my presence.

That is when I saw him, Brass Balls, he climbed the fence stood on two feet like a man in the middle of the road facing toward me. He was no more than fifteen or twenty feet away from me, we stared eye to eye while the army to the right hollered insults at me. I don’t know what came over me but I raise my hands over my head and shook them like a chimpanzee and made monkey hoots imitating Tarzan’s Cheetah I had watched for years on TV reruns. Funny as it may sound Brass Balls did the same and I seemed to understand what he was trying to communicate.

All of his troop had made it over the fence except one of the youngsters still skirting back and forth in the branches to the left of me. She seemed terrified to have been separated from the her family, all alone she was crying out for help.

I made another monkey imitation and went to the left to get behind this little one and BB to went to his right scampering up the jungle vines into the branches and chased this frighten baby back over the fence and into the fold. Everything was now relaxed, the army on the fence dropped back into the banana trees and began foraging again. Brass Balls leaped back over the fence and again faced me eye to eye and we both shook our hands over our heads and grunted and hooted at each other in mutual respect and then he slowly climbed over the fence and rejoined his troops.

Fascinated by the whole experience I found a grassy knoll and sat down  watching this huge family of monkeys going about their business now not caring at all that I was present. I laid back and fell asleep and was woke-up by my hat being lifted off my face. Startled, but staying calm my hat was lifted again this time I noticed it was one of the baby monkeys that had got curious enough to sneak up and see what strange monkey this was whose fur could be lifted off his head. Then I looked up and I was surrounded in the branches all above me by the whole troop. No longer considered a threat my presence was tolerated, thus could be ignored as they went about with all their monkey business.

I have often wondered how this King of the monkeys Brass Balls would tell this story to his grandchildren. Would he remind them that if man and animals can attempt the others’ language, suspend their fears of each other and learn to cooperate, that peace may be possible among all the creatures of the earth?

Only if we humans can learn to communicate with each other in mutual respect, learn to share our knowledge and resources so all may benefit, then it might be possible for us to build the foundations essential to achieve Peace on Earth and Good Will to All.

Gangsters Cha! Cha! Cha!

by Daniel Shea

2006 Digital Painting by Daniel Shea

A Marine’s Reaction to The Act of Killing – the movie

By Daniel Shea September 20th 2013

2012 documentary film, directed by Joshua Oppenheimer. It is a Danish-British-Norwegian co-production, presented by Final Cut for Real in Denmark, produced by Signe Byrge Sørensen, co-directed by Anonymous and Christine Cynn, and executive produced by Werner Herzog, Errol Morris, Joram ten Brink, and Andre Singer. It is a Docwest project of the University of Westminster.

See Wikipedia for Synopsis of film http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Act_of_Killing

I want to explore my reaction or feelings after seeing this film. I think this is an important, unique original and artistic film as it documents an oral history in visual scenes re-enacted by the Monsters of death themselves. It will – I am sure – enter the lexicon of film buffs, film school academics, critics of all kinds, struggling to define a language to categorize it into to some genre that does not yet exist.

Will it be a one of a kind film like the racist Jim Crow film “Birth of a Nation”? Who knows but anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, criminologists and historians, from every field of the social sciences will construct and deconstruct studies and theories abundant enough to keep librarians employed for some time to come, as they attempt to explain the meaning one gleans from the film and the men in it who kill.

What makes monsters?

It is a good question, as a veteran of Viet Nam, a marine, a machine gunner, a trained killer, I have asked myself this very question, was I or am I a monster? How could I let myself become a man who could and would kill another human being? All the excuses fall flat, except I do find some solace in the fact that I can’t remember if I ever fired my weapon and if I did wouldn’t it have been because someone was firing at me or my platoon?. There is this one time when we entered a village set with booby traps, men died yet there is a black hole in my memory, redacted, in the twilight zone of another dimension. It is an amnesia that I welcome but if it ever reveals that I was a part of a massacre I am not sure I could live with myself.

If ever I remember and find my fears unwarranted still what right would I have to relinquish my guilt, I still participated in war I had no right to enter, if I wasn’t resisting the war then my very presence was a violation of Internationals Laws Against Wars of Aggression and a direct assault against the Vietnamese.

I was told we were at war against a people so evil, they would destroy our freedoms as they are doing to their own people who we have come to protect and liberate from the shackles of communism. “Communism” I didn’t even know what that “C” word even meant and I didn’t even take the time to find out. I knew nothing about the Vietnamese or their history, culture, language nor the geography I would trample beneath my jungle boots.

In the Act of Killing we hear the word “Communism” over and over, we must crush all the communists, we killed the communists and there are no communists here because we have killed them all.

The main interviewee and main character is Anwar Congo, a handsome older man, looks of African descent and reminds me of my Cuban brother-in-law and one of his friends Juan an Afro-Cuban now long deceased. Anwar like these Cubans in my life, hated the communists but on a day to day level I found them gentle loving men whose families were at the center of their experiences. They were kind to old ladies and would go out of their way to help anyone in distress. I would argue with them about the better side of the revolution as compared to the dictatorship of Batista, another man they had no love for. Our conversations were heated but always civil and we parted as friends at the end of every debate.

It is hard not like Anwar when you see his interaction with his nephews or grandchildren (I can’t remember which) as he gently admonishes one for injuring a duck. He instructs him to pet the duck gently and to say he is sorry to the duck. To tell the duck it was an accident he didn’t mean it any harm.

I am struck by the contradiction and wonder what caused him to suppress this nature of goodness that resides in him, it must have been there all along or where else would it have come from? Was Anwar making excuses for his own violence, does he mean to say all his killings were an accident? Accidents of history? of ignorance? of youthful ideological passions? I don’t think it entered his mind but it did mine.

From this film my mind dances from contradiction to contradiction like Anwar doing the Cha Cha after slaying a victim, I try to put into context how we as a nation, as people can suppress our humanity, dance with death, twisting truths into lies and shouting patriotic slogans to our youth to egg them on to war, to kill or die for those who beat the war drums and make profit from music of guns, bombs and screams of the innocent caught in the chaos.

How can we stand by and say nothing, are we not guilty if we do nothing to lift a finger to stop the machine of war that kills everything that stands in its path? Is this silence not monstrous and criminal?

This film triggers much anxiety in me, these stories of murders and the men who tell them fill me with anger and memories of my own violence. I do not hate them but I do not understand them. I have rejected violence in my life and thus hate has no place in my heart, but I find it hard to forgive them for their crimes. They do not ask for it and most continue to perpetrate forms of extortion, by their very presence which instills fear in the people they encounter.

Anwar Congo describes himself as a “gangster” which he and his comrades define as meaning “free men”. I think “free men?” free to kill? free to rape? Free to do whatever you want without consequence? This is the meaning of freedom?  Anwar goes on to demonstrate the efficiency of killing with wire, how it digs into the skin so the victim can’t get their fingers in between to resist, also less blood, less to clean up.

Anwar watches replays of their enactments, their making of a movie and his face is intense, he watches himself as though looking into a mirror of the past and he is not sure of himself. He and the director revisit the place where many of the killings take place and Anwar begins to convulse as if to vomit up the evil that has possessed him all these long years, such a guttural sound is coughed up, you feel as if he might vomit his inner demons, hounds from hell which will in turn devour him.

I have never seen anything like this film before nor been so frustrated to make sense of it all, because it does make sense of insanity and yet reason is elusive. It is a must see film and I hope it will help us all understand how a society, politics, and ideology can prompt such violence in human beings and thus help us find a way to prevent it.

These monsters who call themselves “Gangsters” must be held accountable for their crimes, that is our responsibility least we be monsters ourselves.