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THE CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR

Dreamed 1995/8/8 by Chris Wayan

It's the 1960s. I go to a draft board to get the form to file as a conscientious objector. They don't have any! They estimated a certain percentage would file, and they'd grant a certain percentage of those, a small number, not important. They were wrong. The war is hated, the draft is hated, everyone's objecting. Rather than apologizing for not having the form, the officer at the desk patronizes me, calls me "unpatriotic" for wanting one! I think "losing my temper is the best strategy here." And so I do--calmly, deliberately. I reach over his desk and grab him by the collar and roar "HOW DARE YOU IMPUGN MY PATRIOTISM FOR EXERCISING MY RIGHTS AS A CITIZEN!" I hesitated to say a word like 'impugn' but that's what came up. He reddens and gasps "...attacking a superior officer..."

Good! I got him. Now I decide to really stage a tantrum. I freeze in outrage. Glare. Yell "You call me INFERIOR? I'm a CIVILIAN, you little paper pusher, and PROUD OF IT. Don't you order me around! I'm PAY all you little tin soldiers! YOU work for ME! I'm YOUR superior!"

He calls for a guard, and I turn and run out of the office. Find I'm in a U-shaped place, all white concrete and steel railings, looking out over a harbor. I climb up the south side and enter an upstairs door. A man I know, in a hat and strange suit, passes me coming out. I'm in peculiar clothes myself, ridiculous in fact: shorts and a cape, almost a superhero outfit, so the guards can trace me--I want to be identified, the whole point is to show I'm hostile, mentally unstable, and just plain trouble right from the start, so they'll be GLAD to see me go...

WHAT IT'S ABOUT

Despite appearances, this dream isn't primarily about militarism or the draft. It's about deliberately cultivating rage about certain kinds of rudeness. Two kinds:

  1. My friend Mark is learning to sing, and he called me today to say "I can't believe how Americans sneer at musicians. I was practicing in my room and so-called friends stuck their heads in and said "Your voice is shit!" and "Don't quit your day job!" Yet they'd never say to your face "You sure are ugly" or "Your art is shit." I know--I've painted on street corners, and people will gawk but not insult you. But for some reason, it's open season on singers!"
  2. Today, a guy from a charity came to the door and hit me up for $5, and wouldn't say no--I finally gave in just to shut him up, and I NEED that money! I felt drafted... Then, a couple of friends called and begged me to pick them up at the airport... and I felt I couldn't say no. Drafted again...
God, I feel crippled! How much of my anger is just a prosthetic for lost limbs--the arm that can ignore jerks, the leg that can say no?

But am I crippled? I grew up in a quiet, intuitive family where one word was enough. Cats, not dogs. But some folks are dogs. Some anger's not prosthetic, not a sign you've failed. It's tactical. For some folks are so emotionally deaf, you have to yell "BAD dog!" to get them down off the table--or off you. Hard for cats to understand--but still, it's true. With doggy people, you're not losing your temper, but loosing it. To do its job.



LISTS AND LINKS: self-defense - rage and tantrums - faking - peace and pacifism - Mark dreams

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