Mile 8: The Journey

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

~ Mary Oliver ~


In “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist and holocaust survivor, concluded that our primary motivational force is our search for meaning, purpose, and responsibility. Napoleon Hill, who interviewed and studied over 500 of the most successful people of his day, wrote that the starting point of all achievement is definiteness of purpose. When people have life and the liberty to pursue their unique version of happiness or purpose, they blossom like a flower in the desert, which is the collective force that gave rise to these United States. I believe we’ve lost that somehow, and that as a nation our purpose should be to figure out how to get it back. This is simply one man’s ideas on how to do that.

It sounds counterintuitive, but the essence of The One Man March is that any number of people moving forward following their passion with NONE of them going in the EXACT same direction is the best way to unite us and change the world for the better. We’ve moved so far away from rugged individualism, that today if everyone were jumping off a cliff, most of us would be pushing others out of the way so as not to be last.

Dr. Martin Seligman,, founder of the field of Positive Psychology, clearly defines the main elements of happiness in his book, “Authentic Happiness”: The three main factors which contribute to authentic happiness are 1) positive emotions or feelings that come about as a result of exercising our strengths and virtues 2) experiencing “flow” as a result of taking on difficult challenges that match our skill and ability levels and 3) activities which provide us with a sense of meaning and purpose. If you haven’t figured out what these are for you, then don’t rush off to college just yet and get yourself buried in student loan debt, only to have a midlife crisis thirty years from now upon the realization that you followed the wrong path. Don’t take the road less travelled. March boldly into the wilderness and cut your own trail.

The One Man March involves minimizing the dissonance in our lives, which is the inconsistency between the beliefs one holds or between one’s actions and one’s beliefs; in other words, hypocrisy. It is also the difference between what we are told and what we see with our own eyes. We have a strong internal desire for our thoughts, emotions and behaviors to be in sync with each other. When they are not, we experience cognitive dissonance. It’s not that hard to control someone’s thoughts (don’t think about blood gushing from a whale being harpooned) and hijack their purpose, even though our thoughts are the only thing we have ultimate control over.

Governments, religions, corporations, and others control our thoughts and behaviors through powerful images and narratives that stir our emotions, some of the most effective being guilt, anger, hate, and fear. Positive messages and emotions can stir us to action as well, yet rather than inspiring people to figure out what you can do for yourself, today’s “leaders” boast about what they and your country can do for you; which is nothing without taking from or infringing upon the freedom and rights of others.

The first step in the One Man March is to convert your skills and passions into a personal mission statement and then march forth in that direction.

If you read the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, then I think you would conclude that our country has dissonance. If you read the mission statements of some of our government agencies, then I think you would conclude that many of them have dissonance also. To remove the dissonance, we could rewrite the Constitution and maybe write a Declaration of Dependence to reflect our apathy toward government involvement in every aspect of our lives, or we could change our institutions and laws to reflect the type of free country that we say we are. Another method of eliminating the dissonance and taking back our country and institutions would be to find a government agency whose mission speaks to you, and get a job there. If you’re willing to die for your country, then be willing to go to work for the government for a year instead, and then do everything in your power to eliminate the corruption, fraud, waste, and abuse so that the organization will be in sync with its purpose; or be eliminated altogether because it’s redundant or runs contrary to what’s in the Constitution.

One day, I was walking through the mall with my wife when one of those merchants at a kiosk tried to corner us and said, “Can I ask you a little question?” My wife said, “No, we’re only taking big questions today.” Ironically, the biggest question is also the littlest question. It’s, “Why?” And, we don’t ask it enough. All you have to do is ask it once, and it’s like pulling the thread on a sweater. Why are things done this way? Why did Louisiana get over 4 billion dollars as a result of their senator voting for Obamacare? Why was the company that built the healthcare website chosen? Why did we really go to war in Iraq? Why has no one been held accountable in any of the myriad of scandals we’re faced with today? Why don’t more people stand up and march to the beat of their own drum, rather than being knocked off course with divisive issues fanned by disingenuous politicians distracting us from their own corruption and selling out of the country? Whether you’re working for a government agency, or just interacting with one, get in the habit of questioning things.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them; disagree with them; glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
Steve Jobs, inspired by Jack Kerouac

March forth and conquer!

*The word “man” is employed in its classical meaning here, implying “mankind” as a whole.

2006 Congressional Delegation to Iraq on C-SPAN with Col. Martino



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