(Note At a time and place long ago, I became fascinated by and involved in Neurolinguistic Programming or NLP. It’s still around, and it has a lot of applications so it’s worth familiarizing yourself with it. But it has drawbacks, and people looking for ways to manipulate others should stay away. It can become the abyss, staring back at you as you stare into it.)
He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you. — Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 146
It is a story as old as organized human conflict. A patrol not expecting trouble is ambushed. Relief forces aren’t readily available, and when they arrive, there are wounded and dead and the enemy has not left the field. Or, perhaps they have left the field. The story we know is confused, and the Army is confused. The battle was in a place far away, that many Americans wouldn’t recognize or confuse it with somewhere else. It appears that command and control had broken down, and one of the soldiers is missing. The unit is rapidly evacuated; the wounded are treated, the remains of the dead are treated with honor and they are sent onward to the airhead, and from there to Ramstein Air Force Base and then on to Delaware.
Sometime later, soldiers return to the battle field hoping to find the MIA soldier, a young Sergeant, alive. Instead, they find him dead, disfigured by battle and the results of lying for a couple of days in the mud and grasslands and forests of Niger, in the tropics, in the rainy season. The remains are about a mile from the ambush site. They collect the remains, wrapping them in a body bag, and start with him back on the long journey home, in his case, to Miami.
The news reaches the states, but we’ve become somewhat numb here, and unless you’re involved as a member of the family, or in the chain of command someplace, you notice when the news reaches that they found the fourth soldier. The White House and the Golem who speaks for our troll president make a perfunctory announcement. The President doesn’t make any statement or allusion to it for twelve days, and then when asked why he goes into a long explanation of something else entirely where he can focus on himself, insulting his predecessor’s love of country and of the “Troops.”
The situation deteriorates from there. He cites the experience of his Chief of Staff, a true American hero and classic warrior when the Chief’s son was killed in action. The Chief of Staff is a quiet and reticent man in public, seldom discussing personal matters, and trying to lead by example on the ship of fools at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In case you’re wondering, as any sane being would, none of this answers the questions or relieves the grief of the suffering.
The Troll asks advice on how to call the families of the fallen, convinced that like everything else he sees in the world, he can resolve the issue. The Chief, a retired General, advises him not to. He cites the call visit from his Casualty Officer, a close personal friend. Don’t do this. Of course, when the Troll receives honest and meaningful advice, he ignores it. That is what Trolls do; they bully the weak, and ignore the strong depending on status and luck to restrain the reasonable responses to their behavior.
They set up the calls, and the widow of the fourth soldier, SGT Johnson, receives the call as she is on the way to receive the casket. With her, accompanying her on the a trip no one dreams of making without waking up shaking and in tears, are her parents and a close personal friend and mentor of her and her husband, Frederica Wilson, a charismatic and colorful Congresswoman from Miami who has known the family for decades. The call comes in, and she puts the call on speaker phone.
The President of the United States, a 71 year old, a possibly demented but certainly insensitive plutocrat with a documented history of issues with women and people of color, tries to console her, this young, African American mother of two with another child due in the next few months. He may or may not know that he is on speaker phone; regardless, he never mentions her husband’s name, can’t give her any information, and then uses the same words used to console and assist his Chief of Staff when he received the same horrible message. He hangs up, and goes off to abuse a staffer or complain on Twitter about something protected by the First Amendment that he finds personally offensive.
The young widow and mother is horrified. She feels like her husband was nothing to this man; he didn’t even bother to know his name. Or her name, it seems. Her soul has been ripped from her and is hanging by a thread, and he tells her that “Your guy knew what he was signing up for…but it still hurts.”
The Congresswoman is horrified. She complains to the press that the President was disrespectful to the widow, to the deceased soldier and to the other people in the car. This escalates, and rather than doing what a normal man would do, or what a president with strong advisers would do, he attacks the Congresswoman as a whacko and a liar. That is part of his personal play book of course whenever anyone challenges him. Since he has no empathy or awareness of anyone else, he may have sincerely been confused. But the man would attack Bambi with a sledgehammer if he thought it would make his base happy so it is with some reluctance that I give him the benefit of the doubt.
After several days of nonsense, the White House brought out the Chief of Staff to explain what had happened. The part that General Kelly knew from life was delivered stoically, bleakly and in a way that was haunting, bringing tears to the eyes of a lot of those who heard it. Then he began to defend the President, and did so in the approved Trump way, attacking the Congresswoman and the media and “empty barrels.” Since much of the stuff that he was complaining about with the Congresswoman was demonstrably untrue, he managed to bring some discredit on himself and his honor.
Jesus wept, and began to drink copiously.
We need to remember that everything this Troll President touches is tarnished, and the more valuable it is, the more tarnished it becomes, and more rust, tarnish and shit-encrusted it becomes until it is barely recognizable. Honor, integrity and courage are stored in wells deep within the hearts of men that takes a life well lived to fill, but can be depleted in one horrible encounter.
President Troll excels at sucking all the value from those souls that approach him in good faith.
As for the warning about NLP, one critical insight in Neurolinguistic Programing that with me is that the meaning of you communication is the response it receives. Trump was talking to the 23 year old mother of two kids with one on the way, and she had just been informed that she wouldn’t be able to see the remains and that the funeral would be closed-casket. Her dead husband was her high school sweetheart, and I suspect their souls were well-entwined. No one could tell her anything to reassure her, to explain what had happened to her husband. She was utterly unable to process what she was hearing.
I suspect that Trump doesn’t spend a lot of time talking to pregnant, 23 year black women who have just discovered that not only is her husband not coming back, but that she will not even be able to see him one more time. From what the Congresswoman and the Mother have said, Trump was basically using the points that General Kelly had described to him.
I am not surprised that everything went to hell from there.
As with so much, Trump doesn’t have the tools, the skills, the empathy, the language or the self awareness to realize that he wasn’t succeeding. He also didn’t have the sense to understand that if your communication isn’t understood, it’s your fault, not that of the receiver.
John Kelly spent over 47 years serving his country and is still doing it. He remains a Marine at core, having served from Private E-1 at Paris Island through Four Stars and Command in Iraq. His casualty officer was his best friend, the current Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Joseph Dunford. The words he received were the best that friend, fellow general, and fellow Marine could give him; they were sincere, heartfelt and something they’d both heard before.
If your communication isn’t understood, it’s your fault!
The best advice that General Kelly gave to President Trump was not to make the calls. The worst was letting him make them with no script and nothing to say prepared that just might work with the people who were going to get the calls.
His greatest service to Donald Trump was telling the story of his son’s death, the return journey of the remains, and his experience at the receipt of the message no parent wants to receive or repeat.
The worst service he ever did to the country was going into a rant about the Congresswoman, claiming to have witnessed events and then lying about them. His worst service to himself is in his failure to call the Congresswoman and apologize for misrepresenting the truth.
He can and should make that right, for his honor and for his soul. Then, he needs to tell the President that he will not lie or bend the truth or abuse others for the President’s benefit. Then, if he’s on a roll, he might resign.
Our Basic insight remains proven though — Everything Donald Trump, our own President Troll touches, becomes encrusted with rust, tarnish, stains and shit.
None of this, of course, has brought the dead back to life or relieved the agony of the loss for the families of these four Sergeants, their buddies in the unit and on the patrol, and in the hearts of many of us wondering how something this awful could have happened. This wasn’t a black ops mission inside North Korea; this was a periodic visit to talk to some tribal elders that they’d met and seen before as well as a re-supply mission for some Nigerian soldiers that the team had been training and assisting.
So, why did it go so wrong? “Wait–Out” is the answer for now.
SGT La David Johnson was laid to rest today, October 21, with full military honors. The investigation into what happened continues. If you believe in God, you should remember him in your prayers, if you bother to pray. If you can afford it, a Go-Fund me page for the education of his children has been established for them. May he, his brothers and all others rest in peace.
The only good that comes from this is perhaps some awareness in Congress that there are far more important and meaningful things than tax cuts for the rich and screwing everyone else.
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Posted by Mike Farrell on October 21, 2017, With 0 Reads, Filed under Heroes, Of Interest, Support the Troops, World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.