Author Topic: Thoughts  (Read 2355 times)

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Offline Anonymous

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Thoughts
« on: October 09, 2002, 11:19:00 PM »
Ramblings... I just have to get this off my chest I guess...

   I have always been fascinated by heroes. As a girl, the stories I read were of adventures that had befallen children--bank robberies foiled, counterfeiters caught, gangs of bullies undermined and humiliated. They were children, but, I would remind myself, they were still older than me. I told myself, "I'm too young. When I am older, then I will change the world."

   I was six years old. My mother told me, "We are moving to America." Soon we were on a plane and I was thrown into a foreign country I did not understand. I skipped a year of school while I learned a new language.

   I had attended the first few months of that year in Germany, and my first-grade teacher, who knew I was leaving, gave me a book that she said was about America. It told the story of a young Indian boy, who learned about courage from a long journey to the land of the white man. His name was Falling Star--Fliegender Stern, in German. I identified with him; I, too, had gone to a land I did not understand. But the culture shock passed, and I learned to speak another language.

   I was eight years old. My stepfather was a mentally unstable man, and I cannot remember a time when I felt safe in his presence. He could be violent and spiteful at any moment, and he delighted in showing me that he loved my sister more than he loved me. I learned to avoid him. When I could, I escaped into the world I knew and loved--the world of the heroes, those who somehow showed no fear in the face of mortal danger, and somehow, some way, always lived to tell the tale.

   I knew I was no hero. When his voice rose to a fever pitch, and his hands twitched threateningly, my stepfather was the cause of abject terror. I would try to resist, but any rebellion on my part ended in disaster and gave me a reminder that, since he was my father, I should have obeyed. So afraid that I could not think, I cowered in his presence. But when he was gone, I would once again escape to my stories, to read of those who had not been afraid.

   My sister was, perhaps, less the object of my stepfather's wrath than I was. She was quieter and more docile; any resistance she put up was in secret. So, one day, I talked with my sister. We formed the Secret Partners Club, and we vowed to protect each other. In secret, maybe we did. But what could a nine-year-old do? I didn't know. I learned how to avoid my stepfather, how to trick him. If I had hidden something, I would stand in front of an obvious hiding place, pretending to protect it. My sister sometimes provided a distraction--and my stepfather, usually not expecting my trickery, never found the objects I wanted to hide. Such objects were usually books--books about heroes.

   My stepfather died, six months after I had first met him. I never mourned his death; I had never loved him.
   
   I read about the Alamo, where they had known there would be no help and fought on nevertheless. I found out that heroes did not always survive. But, when I had thought about it for a while, I did not see the Alamo as a tragedy anymore. The defenders had been honorable men who died well. They were heroes, and I could not have asked for more for myself. When I was in the world of heroes, I was one of them--a crusader for truth, for freedom. But in the world my young body inhabited, I was still a cowering little girl.

   I was ten years old. The daughter of the principal at my school, a year older and a foot taller than I, reigned over all those who went to grades K to 6 of that school. I was a social outcast; she did not accept me into her group because I wasn't interested in hair, make-up, or boys. I was afraid of her, afraid enough to back down whenever she challenged. But one day, I did have a small victory. I didn't back down, even though she was twisting my arm painfully. For one time, one moment, I was (in a small way which seemed big to me) a hero in the real world, too.

   I read a children's version of Pilgrim's Progress, as well as an adaptation of Foxe's book of martyrs. I wasn't sorry for those I read of--I felt proud of them. To die simply because you believed something--and to have a choice, the entire time, to deny that belief and save your life--seemed to me a great act. But when I came back to the world I lived in when there were no stories, the martyrs I had read of seemed far away.

   I was twelve years old, and Mother married again. He was a duplicate of my first stepfather--but he was stronger and smarter, to match my increased strength and age. Once again I was afraid.

   And in the world of heroes, Joan of Arc made her appearance. I didn't know if she was insane, or if she was really hearing saints speak to her, but I knew she was courageous. She had led an army to victory--and she was barely older than I was when she first started her campaign. But then, thanks to the treachery of her own government, Joan had been arrested and burned. I couldn't believe it when I first heard it. And I learned that often, even when it was successful, heroism did not always inspire the love of the people it had benefited.

   And in the real world, I puzzled about life, about my father, and about God. When I finally decided to trust God, it was only after a long struggle. But there was heroism in the Bible, too--heroism, that like Joan's, had gone unappreciated. To die because you loved someone--someone who hated you--seemed illogical to me. Yet, somehow, I came to believe it was true. And I read, for the first time, the phrase, "Perfect love casts out fear." I did not understand its meaning at the time; I still do not fully understand it. Perhaps such mysteries are meant to be felt--not understood.

   I was thirteen. The legislators of my state fought a battle over abortion. I wrote letters to them, stating that I was against the killing of innocent children. One reply I got wasn't a form letter--a congressman wrote to me in his own handwriting, recommending "The Wealth of Nations" as a good introduction to politics. Maybe he thought I was a budding politician. The truth was that I just wanted a cause to fight for. I had found a part of my identity--the part of me that wanted to be a hero.

   I learned about the Holocaust when I read The Hiding Place for the first time, and I knew that my people--the Germans--were responsible for killing those six million. I read about more heroes. There were Corrie and her sister Betsie, who were imprisoned in Auschwitz for being part of the Dutch underground movement; a priest who offered himself for execution in the place of another prisoner--even a young girl who helped hide her Jewish friend fromthe Nazis.

   And I knew that America--my adopted country--was, like Germany, responsible for a holocaust: Thirty-six million, all too young to tell anyone about it. So another secret plan was hatched--I called it Operation Pencil. I wrote a paragraph about abortion; then, I entered it into the memory bank of my mother's typewriter. Soon, copies of my first essay rattled off the press, eight to a sheet, and were secretly cut and stacked into my overcoat pockets. With my sister's help, I secretly distributed the sheets in public places. It was my first introduction to unorthodox methods of protest.

   Letters, cut out of the same typing paper that I had used for Operation Pencil, appeared on my window for passing drivers to see. "Abortion kills children," they proclaimed. My stepfather wasn't happy about it. But, for the first time, I didn't back down. I told my stepfather I did not want to remove the letters, removed them under protest, and prayed. And, five minutes later, my stepfather told me, amidst obscenities, that I could keep the letters in my window. It felt good to win a battle, not to back down. But that was the exception for me.

   When I was fourteen years old, a neighbor came to the door to tell my mother that my stepfather had been arrested. He had used our computer to manufacture counterfeit money, and had been caught. I slunk downstairs, checking the trash can next to my stepfather's computer. Yes. There were his failed attempts. I bagged the contents of the trash can, then called the police and told them I had evidence. My mother discovered me on the phone, and I ran. I grabbed the bag, ran upstairs, and barricaded myself in my room, where I stayed, afraid and trembling, until a police car pulled up in the front driveway. I had removed the screen ahead of time, and now I threw the bag out the window. For the cops, it was probable cause. They could search the house--and find evidence my mother would have destroyed, evidence which forced my stepfather to plead guilty.

   I spied on the proceedings of the trial, reporting to my grandparents any information I found. I learned how to listen, how to walk quietly, and how to spy on those who didn't want to be heard. I was finally caught when I was too lazy to hand a letter to my grandparents directly to the mailman, and my mother found it in the mailbox. I learned another lesson about heroism: It requires vigilance, skill, and practice--not just enthusaism.

   That was the year I discovered science fiction. Now fourteen and in the tenth grade, I knew I wanted to be a scientist. And, once again, I read about heroes. Star Trek intrigued me. It was set in a world of high technology that fascinated me with the possibilites of the future. I grew familiar with the character of James T. Kirk, who, like a cat, always landed on his feet. And yet, there were the red-shirted ensigns who died so often that it became a cliche. But they were heroes, too.

   I read fantasy novels--The Lord of the Rings, and the Chronicles of Narnia. Sometimes the heroes were well-trained. They were soldiers, magicians, and kings, people who could face any situation and overcome it. But there were other heroes--from Frodo Baggins to Peter Pevensie--who were unprepared, who faced obstacles much bigger than anything they could have been expected to handle, and who overcame them anyway. But on the other side of the coin were those, well-trained or not, who did not succeed in their battles and died trying to reach their goals. And I learned that a hero could end up dead very easily--would end up dead, most likely, in the real world.

   My stepfather was sentenced to five years of probation. If he touched me or my sister, I could tell the police and get him put in jail. Thankfully, that fact saved me from physical retribution when he returned home. He did, however, discover a way to exact revenge.

   I was sixteen when my stepfather enrolled me in a school, a cult more than a college, with strict rules which he must have thought would "straighten me out"--ample revenge for five years of probation. At the college the students privately called a concentration camp and the administration called The Will of God, I learned more about the hero, and even more about the villain. There, we attended required chapels in which were repeatedly told that it was morally wrong not to report rebellion against the administration--an administration that cared little about the students, much about their reputations, and even more about money: The college is essentially a source of free labor for their multimillion-dollar textbook company, and since the college does not accept loans or scholarships, the students often work 40- to 60-hour weeks, without pay, to finance their educations.

   Those who rebelled there were interrogated, usually for hours at a time, and often expelled, their only chance at college gone--these were, after all, poor students who worked for the college and often could not afford any other education. It didn't help matters that we were told, again in those required chapels, that if we "quit" or were expelled, God would put us on the shelf or maybe even kill us; I had a roommate there who was absolutely certain that the death of a friend of hers, who had transferred out and been killed in a car accident on the way home, had been directly ordered by God when He saw that she was "disobeying His will". That is why, though theoretically free to leave, many student's don't.

   But there were real-life heroes there: Those who refused to turn in friends, those who confronted the administration, and those who, despite the atmosphere of paranoia, lived in a way that made me certain they knew their thoughts, unlike their bodies, were free. But there were those who were not heroes. They turned in other students, spied for the administration, and became power-hungry and, unfortunately, powerful. My own roommate was asked to spy on me and report weekly, which she did.

   At college, I read "1984" for the first time. Orwell's main character was a failed hero, but a failed hero unlike any other I had ever encountered. The defenders of the Alamo, the Star Trek ensigns, and the dwarves who fought to the death in the caves of Middle-Earth all died free--free in their minds, free to think what they wanted. But to be a failed hero in Orwell's "1984" was to be transformed into the enemy, then to die, having accomplished nothing. But then I realized that winston had not died when that last bullet hit him. When it did, winston had already been dead for months; he had died when "2+2=4" was first wiped off the slate in the prison cell. winston was just as much a hero as any participant in a glorious last stand; in fact, he had given more to the cause of freedom than any of them--his very identity.

   The first time I was called to the Dean's Office, my fear and their questioning broke me down and I told them everything. But, soon after that, I saw the testimonies of many heroes who attended the school with me, and I read "1984". I determined that my mind at least would be free, no matter how much my physical self was imprisoned in a world of spies, video cameras, and ID numbers.

   I started writing. Essays, they were--essays that showed me how wrong the college was, what needed to be changed. I risked expulsion, but with my sister's help (my sister, always my partner in crime) I posted them on the Internet, hoping someone would see them. The determination that my mind should be free affected my second trip to the Dean's Office. Now that I had learned how to think for myself, I almost laughed at the administration. But I still didn't have the courage to face them head-on.

   September 11, 2001 started just like any other day, but by the end of it I had learned that thousands were dead thanks to a terrorist attack. I had also heard about some real-life heroes, people I had subconsciously thought existed only in books. The police officers and firemen who died in the World Trade Center, and those who, at the cost of their own lives, stopped a third attack, taught me another important lesson: Real people can be heroes. It doesn't take a writer's pen or a historian's documentation to create a hero--sometimes all it takes is an ordinary citizen.

   Operation Pencil was recreated to fight the tyranny of the College. More slips of paper, this time with the Internet address of an underground newsletter, were printed. I went to the library to distribute them, but I only managed ten before pre-programmed fear overwhelmed me and I ran. "Some hero you are," I told myself. But when I finally had the courage to leave the college despite fears of being struck down by lightning, I vowed to do something--anything--to help those still trapped there.

   Now I am nineteen, and every morning when I look into the mirror, I see the square face and light hair of a German woman. Germans--those who killed twelve million civilians, and more soldiers than any other war. Germans--those who, simply by turning their faces away in fear and letting it happen, gave silent assent to those who were doing the killing. Germans--those who were too afraid for their economy to think for themselves and prevent the Holocaust before it happened. My ancestors--and my inherited burden, the curse of fear instead of courage, the internal struggle whenever I step outside a comfort zone.

   I remember the stories in The Hiding Place--about what happened to those who resisted--and I remember the students expelled for rebellious thought. I remember the Jews, with their ID numbers tattooed on their arms--and my fellow students, with their own ID numbers tattooed on their hearts. And I remember, saddest of all, those students who remind me of winston in "1984"--so broken that their thoughts are not their own.

   I remember, too, that there have always been unlikely heroes. In my mind, the historical Joan of Arc joins the fictional Frodo Baggins and the modern-day September 11th airline passengers to tell me that never in history have youth, inexperience, and lack of professional training been reasons to give up a fight.

   I remember the sad cases when those who were heroes died trying to accomplish what they did. Jesus himself is in that category. So are Harry Potter's parents, Foxe's martyrs, and the occupants of the missionary plane which was recently shot down in South America. The signers of the Declaration of Independence lost everything they owned--some lost their lives--because of their statement for freedom. Was it worth it? Yes, because they accomplished what they were seeking to do.

   There are even sadder stories--the stories of those heroes whose courage, while admirable, was futile. The "Charge of the Light Brigade" accomplished nothing. The world of "1984" did not even miss winston when he died. The firemen at the World Trade Center never rescued those who were trapped in the upper stories, yet were crushed by the buildings when they fell. Was it worth it? I hesitate, then say, Yes--because it was right.

   I face a greater obstacle today than I have ever faced. The College is powerful, rich, and ruthless. I could succeed in my plans; and, of course, that is my greatest desire. But I stand to lose everything by trying--and the College is vicious enough to try to take it. And I could even fail: Not every David slays his Goliath. Some fall in the attempt, and the giant tramples them in its haste to destroy what they gave their lives to protect.

   But somehow, I do not feel that I am alone. I am not one person, but we are a great army. At my side are those in history who have struggled, died, and triumphed. There march the creations of the writer's pen, those whose lives are lived in printer's ink, and in the minds of those who re-live their adventures at every turn of a page. Here are those newly initiated to the ranks of the heroes--those whose fame is not yet in history books or ever in the novels, but in freshly printed newspapers.

   I can't divulge the details of my plan, but yes, it involves a public protest. I hope to attract media attention; and, if I can get enough people together, maybe we can do something to shed light on this college, and maybe by association on some of the other, worse, schools that exist in the "free" United States. I don't know if I'll panic when I get back there; God knows it took me long enough to break out of their ideology when I left for the first time. But... if I didn't do anything, who would?

   Pray for me.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2002, 10:03:00 AM »
Pray for you, I will.  I just wanted you to know that you are not alone.  I was in a cult like program myself.  The more publicity you give this, the less power they have.  Publicity is what eventually closed down the program that I was in.  Unfortunately, I was not a hero.  I learned to conform to survive.  Survive I did, but I have to now live with the guilt that I did nothing to help anyone else.  I hope this encourages in some way.  "The truth shall set you free."
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline kel78

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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2003, 04:47:00 PM »
You're in lots of prayers.  Maybe the places that we were didn't get the publicity, maybe we don't have a lot of people to communicate with and a lot of "cohorts" to share with.  Thinking a lot of the places may be like where I was.. a "Christian" place that seems to have fallen flat off the face of the earth.  Its hard to reconcile that religion and God aren't hand in hand with what was there.

I relate, totally, to your comparisons, the wanting to be like the martyrs, the desire to give life and heart and whole self over to something better and larger than the individual. That's why I was only in the place I was a short time, I toed every line, I followed every rule, I really believed the things they told me, I remember going to another girl's home and raving on about how much I loved it there, and I did at the time.  It felt like, if I could just convince her to go there, if I could just help her get away from her demons, that she could survive and make it, like the rest of us were doing.  Sometimes I see her face when I close my eyes, and I wonder where she is now, and did she make it, or did they pack those kids up and send them somewhere else, like the people that were there longer than me told stories about.

Anyway.  Sorry to ramble a bit, but you're in prayers, mine at least.  Hope there is a bit of consolation in knowing that you're not the only one who went through that kind of thing.  And thank you, for being brave and courageous enough to stand up and cast light on something that some of us have a hard time reconciling even existed.  You ARE a hero now.  And for the one who felt like a coward... you're not... just reading the posts and having the guts to post back is a step.  A really big one for some of us.

[ This Message was edited by: kel78 on 2003-05-21 13:50 ]
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.
- Agatha Christie

Offline Anonymous

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« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2003, 03:10:00 PM »
I feel the pain i was in a program for a while you could say i was a "sleeper" being in a facility for that amount of time, I am in therapy now for post traumatic stress. I was in the Academy At Ivy Ridge and Herr (Mr.) Finnlenson our director made our lives hell I feel so bad for any child sent there. I in a way miss it aside from the beatings and the poor treatment. life made sense in those walls, the outside world sucks. I pray for all of you and i pray for myself i will never forgive sadly i will never forget
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Antigen

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« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2003, 03:28:00 PM »
Quote
On 2003-06-03 12:10:00, Anonymous wrote:

"I feel the pain i was in a program for a while you could say i was a "sleeper" being in a facility for that amount of time, I am in therapy now for post traumatic stress. I was in the Academy At Ivy Ridge and Herr (Mr.) Finnlenson our director made our lives hell I feel so bad for any child sent there. I in a way miss it aside from the beatings and the poor treatment. life made sense in those walls, the outside world sucks. I pray for all of you and i pray for myself i will never forgive sadly i will never forget"


Hey, forgiveness is divine. Forgetfulness is just a mental disfunction. The outside world sucks a whole lot less once you figure out how to view it NOT through the lense of the Program. I hope you're able to sort it all out. Be well.  :smile:

Our Constitution is in actual operation; everything appears to promise that it will last; but in this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0300001479/circlofmiamithem' target='_new'> Ben Franklin Letter to M. Leroy, 1789.

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Offline kel78

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« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2003, 08:38:00 PM »
Life in the programs does make more sense.  It's structured, it's "safe", at least you feel safe when you can set your watch by different things, you grow accustomed to it, it does become your life, for better or for worse.  Sometimes it feels weird now, to say something or do something and have that little thing in the back of your mind go off with something you had branded on your brain as right or wrong or weird or whatever.

Anyway, understands what you mean... sometimes I miss the hermit-y feelings and the monotany myself.  It just goes with the territory.  Far as forgiving and forgetting, I remember being told once, in "Old Testament Law" (and they wondered why we hated some classes.. sheesh) that wrongs are remembered long.  

Good luck...
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.
- Agatha Christie

Offline SyN

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« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2004, 01:13:00 AM »
I think that the hermit feelings contribute to their success. Its a serious power making us feel like we cant cope in "the real world". they dont need fences when they have that.  Its a power they can not controll after a while; us being human and all.


Anonymous Posted: 2002-10-09 20:19:00  

thats intense and thank you for sharing that definetly. and i will include you in my prayers.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
A word to the wise is infuriating.\"