Most of my life, I’d been a paranoid cynic.
It didn’t help I knew and know what I know how to do with computers, which not only fueled my suspicions of others, but gave me a mechanism to prove my suspicions were accurate and that most people weren’t to be trusted.
My own father, for instance, in 1996 I had just purchased a slightly used Chevrolet Corvette Special Edition, Triple Burgundy Convertible – and took it over to my mom and dad’s place to show it off.
My father looked at me with a smile, and said “Let me take it out”
I refused to.
Now I can’t change history. And would LOVE to take back that decision I’ve come to regret many times over since then, but the fact of the matter was – I just didn’t trust anyone – even my wife – to drive the car.
It didn’t help that I was paying nearly a grand a month in insurance for the thing.
But this was… My baby. It was a status symbol that I’d busted my ass for and I wasn’t going to let anyone drive it.
Even my own father.
Regrets. Among the reason I wish, every day, for the ability to time travel.
My distrust I had felt was rationally grounded, and I looked for and found evidence not to trust anyone I knew as far as I could throw them, ex wives, friends, you name it – I just didn’t give any of them any more than I was willing to let go of permanently.
That all changed.
On a trip to Singapore for work in 2009, I’d been invited for lunch the second day of my arrival with Calvin Chin, a local military leader in Singapore and really cool man in general.
He wanted to introduce me to the local cuisine, thrust me into it – so we – a small group of four of us – went to what he referred to as a “Food Court”, which wasn’t anything like a food court I’d ever seen in the United States.
Here’s a picture off the internet of Hawker Center, which I think is the place we went to:
As we arrived, I was flabberghasted – the place was huge. Two stories, I would estimate around 150 different restaurants offering a large variety of cuisine for pretty much anything Asian.
It was awesome.
So as we walked up to this EXTREMELY busy place, everyone in my party set their keys and cell phones on a clear table that we were claiming.
“Let’s eat,” Calvin said.
I looked at the table. I then looked at all the people, as I said to Calvin:
“Wait, you’re just going to leave this here, isn’t anyone going to stay behind and watch it?” I said.
He looked at me, knowingly and said “They’ll be fine. Let’s go!”
I looked around for cameras. There were none. I looked around for security. There was none.
I was truly mystified. How could they have such a high level of trust?
It didn’t make sense.
I went and picked up some chicken. It was only ok, I wouldn’t rave about it, but there was a lesson I was missing in this place that I needed to understand, as I arrived first at the table, looking for my co-workers, who arrived within minutes of me sitting down.
“So. Aren’t any of you afraid of thieves?,” I said.
Calvin smiled and looked at his co-workers “No man, you’re in Singapore, shit like that doesn’t happen here”
The next day, we went to another food court, with a different group of people.
The same thing happened.
I just didn’t get it.
I was missing something, huge.
The same most certainly wasn’t true of Hong Kong or anywhere else I visited in Asia.
Only in Singapore.
But that incidence alone, made me begin to think.
What is security?
When I was growing up, I used to have to be reminded by my mom and dad to lock the doors.
I’d hear stories from them about how when they grew up – no one locked their doors, and how we were living in different times now, and why it wasn’t safe nowadays to lock them.
But I couldn’t help but wonder – what – in a cultural mindset – happens to make a small place like Singapore feel so extraordinarily safe and secure while bordering a country like Malaysia and being a stone’s throw from Indonesia where theft and petty crime could so easily spill over the borders as it had with Mexico in the United States?
What was I missing?
I thought back to the time with my father.
I suppose it was all of that which made me begin to openly wonder about history, about what I’d been told about people in general, and where I came up with the ultimate challenge for my own mind:
What happens if I intentionally start looking for evidence that people are good?
What if I intentionally start looking for evidence that what history’s villains did – is justified?
Not just from their perspective, but from a societal perspective.
I set my sights on Adolf Hitler. The world’s most ill-reputed villain, and began to research the positive impacts of what he did in World War 2.
At first, I learned more about the religious basis behind it all. How World War 2 in actuality was a continuation of events that had gone as far back as the birth of Christ.
The patterns I was finding with religion was weird – Hitler killed the Jews. The Jews killed Jesus. In India, the symbol of peace for Hinduism was the same as the symbol Hitler used. There’s more, but I won’t get into it.
So I asked myself – what’s higher than religion.
Since what he did seems to be a direct result of all the world’s religions, is there a root cause to what provoked him, and could I trace down ‘benefit’ of his actions through this root cause?
It’s tough. To find reasons why and when genocidal killing is justified.
Around the same time, I re-watched an episode of Star Trek – Next Generation – where Captain Picard is assimilated by the Borg and is used as a pawn to destroy an entire fleet of starships at the battle of Wolf 359 – where thousands of lives were lost – many his friends, and when he was released by the Borg to reclaim his humanity, he couldn’t forgive himself for what he’d done.
I remember someone in the episode saying something along the lines of “No man should have to live with the guilt of knowing what he did to his own people”
At first, when I learned that Sweden was forced to become vegetarian when Hitler’s troops were in town and that this lifestyle change alone has been credited with saving hundreds of thousands of lives, and projecting into the future, this could account for millions of lives over future generations.
But all of it.
Began to make me question.
Was Hitler the pawn in a much larger game?
Who does the evidence point to? Which society and culture on this planet is vegetarian?
India and Hindus.
Which made me question – how did a rural agrarian economy known as India which can barely afford food suddenly find themselves so technologically advanced and among the most in demand workers in the world?
Growing up, I’d never seen nor met a single India Indian.
Yet here we are, and they’re everywhere….
Was there more to Gandhi than meets the eye?
Was America being invaded?
Has our history been tampered with?
Dating an India Indian woman as our relationship was souring certainly didn’t help with my paranoia, so I decided to bring it closer to home, and quit overanalyzing the situation.
And then. I thought about my dad.
I’d had problems with my Corvette throughout the time I owned it. Arizona’s too hot for older stock Corvettes, and I’d noticed there were NUMEROUS other Corvettes that were broken down on the road where I’d never noticed them before.
Strangely, I’d noticed the same phenomenon when I had my Jeep back in High School.
Where I had never noticed broken down Jeeps on the side of the road before, hen I got my Jeep, I noticed there were many.
By 2011. I began to realize the obvious.
That my mind.
My fears. My paranoia. My beliefs. Were responsible for creating the very world around me. They had been my entire life, and while I was exiting a phase where I was ‘out of control’ with this method of operation and entering a new phase of my life where I would have substantially more control of it….
I knew I had to start making better choices of what to believe.
Why I believed in it.
And believe in more.
More fun stuff.
More things that pleased me.
Made me feel good.
And let go of my infantile beliefs that my paranoia and fear was substantiable by proof.
AS long as you, whether you’re the United States looking for terrorists, or you, as a person with a home, believe the things you’re told to fear, those fears will control you and the decisions you make.
When you stop being guided by those fears.
And stop leveraging people and groups such as Hitler. Genghis Khan. The Unabomber. And the 9/11 attackers to substantiate your belief there’s a world to fear.
There will be a world to fear.
It really is that simple.
I chose to stop believing in your fantasies of death and destruction and bombs and chaos when I saw my worst fears in 2011, and walked away from it with a newfound belief there’s more to this world than I will ever imagine.
God. The Easter Bunny. Santa Claus. Time Lords. The X-Men.
And me, Q.
We’re all real.
Something I now know for a fact.
And oddly, this world continues.
Among the reasons I have regrets is because I chose to have them. My life can’t move forward until I’m offered the mechanisms to revisit my past, relive some of them, make some changes, and then – and only then – will I be ready for what’s next.
I always get what I want.
It’s time you in intelligence services quit labeling me as a terrorist and take a good, long hard look in that mirror for a change. I know why you’re doing what you’re doing. And while I was once you and understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.
I no longer am.
One final thought:
I play video games. Have for most of my life. That’s my entertainment.
I know the mind can transcend time and space and that time is a human concept and doesn’t always apply.
So. As your son, or daughter, or yours truly plays a video game for entertainment, killing thousands because they’re bored, is it possible this avatar they’re leading is Hitler himself?
And Hitler, like Picard, was nothing more than an avatar in someone else’s game?
It’s possible. That’s all I am saying. Doesn’t make it fact, which is why it’s called history and why I choose to accept the stories I’m told about the planet around me.
This doesn’t apply to my own life and family and friendships.
Which to me. Are NOT one and the same.