Everyone has his or her own perspective as to what a great world is. And many people work on putting out their ideas as what we can do to make the world a better place. Which is a good thing, as long as your ideas are sincerely made for the benefit of others, then you are doing your part. But the problem, is when we close ourselves off to the perspective of others and refuse to open ourselves up to seeing the world through their eyes.
And I know that there are selfish and stubborn people who believe that what they are doing is for the best. It’s even more annoying when it’s someone who’s close to you. People see the world as how they are conditioned to see it. We’re all taught to think certain ways, from mentors we trust. And after living a happy life a certain way, why change it?
Change only happens when someone has endured enough pain from their current perceptions. Religion being a prime example. Faith tends to be more effective in close-knit groups. The small communities of people with comfortable lives, loving families and their dreams jobs. When you’re happy, what reason would you have to question your faith.
Yet, when you leave that community, say a kid moves out to the big city, and sees that life isn’t as warm as what he or she was taught to believe, than the current perception of faith changes. The kid no longer believes that being a good person and having faith will bring them happiness. Especially after seeing people who are bad, through their current point of view, living better lives.
So I guest what I’m saying is that everyone is cut from a different cloth. And I see many people trying to do good and send out good messages. Which is what we need more of, but to really make a difference you need to understand the perception of reality of the people who you’re preaching to and teach them how to understand yours.
And notice how I said teach, not make. For those of you are trying to spread love, do it as teachers not enforcers. Enforcers are resisted, but teachers are welcomed.
Gazing at the night sky didn’t feel the same without his MP3 player. With nothing to influence his thoughts, he couldn’t fully escape the reality of life. But still, he was grateful to have the opportunity to again sit under the night sky. It was the exact same sky he sat under as a child, still trying to escape the harsh reality of life. This was his home.
In that moment he hear the shuffling of rocks and dust, and already knew exactly who it was. “Afraid I’d try to run?” He asked, jokingly.
“No,” came the familiar voice of Nadia. At this point he was growing use to her accent, even a little fond of. “Even if you do you wouldn’t get very far.” She said while taking a seat on the same lard rock he was sitting on.
They were sitting in a wide crevice in the side of one of the mountains that surrounded the valley. Not too far from everyone else, yet it still felt isolated. The mountain’s stonewalls shot high up into the sky, and leaned a bit outward. As though it were intentionally trying give them a perfect view of the night sky.
“You know I always come here myself to think.” Nadia said. “You’ve picked a perfect spot if you’re trying to get away from everyone.”
Samuel sighed. “Well I needed to think myself.” He said, before turning toward Nadia. Now seeing her more relaxed than before, wearing a warm smile. She looked so hopeful, a similar look he used to wear, before his rough past had changed his general view of the world. “You truly believe you could make a difference don’t you?” He asked.
Nadia chuckled a bit, even in the darkness of the night he could tell she was blushing. “Just look around you Samuel.” She answered. “All the people here who we’ve helped, we have already made a deference.”
“Hm.” Said Samuel, as he turned back away, allowing her words to resonate. He was always one to look at the big picture of things. Hiding in a valley wasn’t solving the problem; it was just running away from it.
“So have you decided?” Nadia asked. “Are you going to help us?”
“I want to.” Samuel said, turning directly into her eyes. “But the thing is, people tend to think that the media dictates people’s thoughts and opinions. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from seven years as a journalist, is that truth is actually the opposite. People only seek out the information that caters to their personal beliefs. No matter how foolish an opinion may be you can always find some type of information that well back it up. Which has made the media have to cover these senseless claims in order to stay afloat. Believe me, I’ve been trying for years to make people see the truth, but they’ll never see it because they’ll never want to see it.”
“No!” Nadia objected. “I don’t believe that, there is always hope, we just need to figure out how to open their eyes.”
“It’s a loosing battle Nadia.” Samuel said. “I’m sorry but people are too stubborn and ignorant. They thrive off of their anger and hate. Channeling toward something or someone else is the only way they can avoid blaming themselves for their problems. And who better to blame than an outsider, such as Hassan?”
Nadia grunt with annoyance, she still refused to give up hope. And she was hoping that Samuel was different, but he was quickly turning out to be, just another selfish American.
“If you really want me to tell you what to do?” Samuel continued. “Than I say you should cut your loses and move on.”
Nadia’s mouth dropped. Was he really telling her just to let Hassan die, despite being an innocence man?
“The best way to help Hassan is to continued his work.” Samuel Said. “Trust me, if you pursue this, you’ll only take his place as America’s number one enemy.”
Nadia turned from him and dropped her head in sorrow. “I’m sorry.” She said.
“No.” Nadia replied in an unsuspected harsh tone, turning back toward Samuel with fire in her eyes. “I’m sorry for what ever happened in your past that turned you so cynical.” She said. “And I’m sorry if your entire country thinks this way. A country of people who prides themselves on their freedom, who never has to wake up in the morning not knowing if that day will be their last, a country who is able to choose who their leaders are and the laws they will obey, a country who’s people have endless possibilities for their lives. I don't understand how people who have so many blessings, have so little hope? Much less than people who have nothing, people like us who don’t even have a home to go to or families to love. If you don’t want to help us than fine, but don’t you dare tell me give up my faith. What we’ve built here may not be as grand as your country, but to the people here whose lives we've saved, this place is greater than any country on this Earth.”
Samuel again sighed, he didn’t want to upset her but couldn’t feel remorseful for being honest. “What you’ve built here is great,” he said. “And helping these people was a good thing, I’m not denying that. And after everything you’ve been through I know you’ve seen the cruel face of this world, but I’ve seen its heart. I’ve seen the evil at its core that fans out and causes the suffering of people such as the ones you’ve saved. So, I know, that no matter what you do, nothing will change.”
“I’m sorry you believe that.” Nadia said. “But still, I can’t.”
Samuel was immediately blinded by the intense spotlight shining directly on his face, he was wished they had at least kept the bag on his face. Weakened and disoriented, all he could make out were silhouettes and voices. He couldn’t help but think back to the all the terrorist execution videos he had watched, remembering all of them in a similar sitting and his emotions of horror as he watched their prisoners’ last fearful breath before their demise. Each time he couldn’t help but put himself in their shoes, contemplating the thoughts that were running through their heads, the fears they were trying to contain, knowing exactly what was to come.
Now that he was the one staring into the eyes of death, it wasn’t so much as the fear that was stressing him but the failure of his life. Spending over a decade of trying to prove he was meant for something great, and now his journey was about to come to an abrupt end. The irony of it all was that he was the one who was trying to do the right thing. Yet as always, living the righteous life has proved to be barren. He was about to get killed as the result of a senseless war started by nefarious and egoistical tyrants, for their own personal interest. And the ones, who were trying their best to help stop the violence and bloodshed, were the ones who were suffering the consequences.
At that moment he felt a smooth soft grip on his chin, just then noticed one of the silhouettes no standing directly before him, blocking the blinding light. His eyes still hadn’t yet recovered, making it impossible for him to make out the face of the person before him, however the soft smooth skin of their grip made it obvious that it was a woman.
“What is your name?” She demanded in a strong Syrian accent.
Though feminine her voice was rough and bold, yet not one Samuel recognized from any of the FIS execution videos that were circling around the internet. “Samuel Grace.” He answered, trying his best to show no fear. He didn’t want to give them the satisfaction. “Six-three-three, six-two, six –four-nine-three.” He concluded, remembering his training to only give his name and social security number if captured.
“Well Samuel Grace.” Said the Syrian girl. “You’re a soldier of the United States, correct?”
“No.” Samuel answered, still trying his best to show no fear. “I’m journalist, and that’s all the information you’ll get out of me because we both know that you’ll kill me regardless.”
He was surprised by a sudden cynical laugh from his female captor. “Luckily for you, we’re not as heartless as the oppressors who run your country.” She said.
Samuel suddenly gasped, her statement had caught him by surprise, a clear indication that they were not planning to kill him after all.
“Did you really think we’re the savages you make us out to be in your media?” She asked after hearing his obvious sigh of relief.
As if on cue his eyes finally adjusted from the glare of the bright light, and the smooth pale face of the Syrian girl had came into focus. She appeared young to Samuel, with long brunette hair and deep brown eyes. Her lips also seemed to stick out to him, they seemed slightly bigger than average, yet only seemed to enhanced her innocent feminine look. She seemed greatly out of place, like she belonged on a magazine cover or a morning talk show. Even with her thick, beige, battled dressed clothing and surrounded by larger scruffy looking people. She was clearly someone who was thrown into this life by circumstance, similar how Samuel viewed himself.
Taking a brief second to look around, as his eyes grew even clearer, Samuel noticed that the others within the room shared her commando yet innocent appearance. Men and women who looked as though they were gathered from local villages and for some reason decided take up arms. Looking around further he couldn’t find a camera, leading him to believe that his previous indication that he was the subject of an execution video was false. And more importantly, he didn’t see a single weapon in any of their hands.
Now he was doubting that they even were the members of the FIS, but still he had to ask. “You’re not FIS are you?” He said, turning back into the eyes of the Syrian girl.
“If that’s what concerns you, than no.” She answered. “We’re not.”
“Than why did you kidnap me?”
She then waved toward one of the men who were standing behind her and he began to walk over toward Samuel with a short silver blade in his right hand.
“At first we wanted to use you as leverage.” She said, Samuel again noticing her strong Syrian accent. It seemed to come out more, the less personal she’d get. “But after hearing that you are a Journalist, perhaps you can be more useful to us that we thought.”
The man with the blade completed his walk, ending behind Samuel and out of his sight. In a flash he felt the ropes on his wrist loosen before hearing a low thud.
“Follow me.” Said the Syrian girl as she walked toward the door.
The man behind Samuel pushed him forward, and chuckled a bit. They may not have seen Samuel as their direct enemy, but the joy they were getting from roughing him up was clear.
He couldn't help to feel sorry her. She looked so innocent and out of place to be caught up in such a viscous conflict. It was hard to believe this was the same girl he saw only minutes before she attacked him. One of his more recent memories from the operation, he led his squad through the small dark village. They knocked over door after door in search of their target, moving in a well-organized formation and guarding all sides with perfect precision.
Joseph moved swiftly ahead as the rest followed closely behind. The final door he kicked opened was to small hut with a defenseless young woman, clutching onto a boy who looked no older than seven. She looked just as innocent as she did now, yet bravely stared down the barrels of their rifles without so much as a flinch. But despite how innocent she looked on the outside, he knew that she had no regret about trying to kill him.
“Here's what we have on her so far.” Came the voice of Marc, as walked by Joseph's side and handed him a yellow folder.
Joseph immediately grabbed it and wasted no time to look through. He wanted to get as much information as he could before reporting back to the General. After not reporting in for two days, he had to get something useful to avoid an obvious reprimand.
“You know she was actually asking about ya.” Said Marc.
“Wanted to make sure she made her god proud?” Joseph replied in a cynical tone.
Marc chuckled a bit. “No.” he said. “She wanted to know if you were alright. She seemed a bit remorseful.”
Joseph's eyes immediately shifted back to the girl on the screen. Maybe her innocent look wasn't just an appearance after all. Either way, he was planning to get the truth out of her. “So her name is Nadia Ivanov.” He said, referring to the information in the folder. “She's Russian?”
“Her father was.” Marc Answered. “Her mother was Syrian, maiden name Sara Ahmadi.”
“She was his sister.” Marc answered. “From the files we pulled up, her father, Borris Ivanov was a Colonel in the Russian army. After he died she moved back to Syria with her mother and brother, Anton. They, both died back in twenty-fourteen and she's been with her uncle ever since.”
“How'd they die?”
“Terrorist attack, which would make her involvement with the FISS a bit hypocritical.”
“If she even is involved.” Joseph said as he closed the folder.
“Well from what we hear, Hassan can be real persuasive man.”
“Than let's see how persuasive.” Joseph concluded as he walked toward a nearby door, which led into the room.
Nadia couldn’t help her regret, she had never before taken a life and hoped she would never have to. Of course she knew it was naive to think that, in her world, it wasn’t inevitable. This time she saw no choice, Hassan was an innocent man, something that she wouldn’t have been able to convince to the American soldier who was trying to kill him. She saw no other way to save his life. But still, she felt guilty for what she’s done and at this point, whatever sentencing the American soldiers had in store for her was deserved.
She immediately clinched her fingers as she heard the door open, then sighed with relief to see the face of the very solider she had thought she killed stepping into the room, alive and well.
Joseph didn’t take a single step without taking his eyes off of Nadia. She looked a bit coy, given the trouble she was in. And if this was anything like any of his previous interrogations with members of the FISS, he was expecting her to go to the grave with what she knew. A place his colleagues would enjoy sending her. However, even though she did try to kill him, the last memory he really had of her was sincere. That innocent look of courage as she clutched a little boy tightly in her arms, ready to give her life to save his. It almost made it impossible to believe she had any involvement with a group as barbarous as the FISS. And if she hadn’t tried to kill him it would have been easy to vouch for her innocence.
Joseph quietly sat down across the table from Nadia while placing the folder on the table before him, just outside of the reach of Nadia’s restrained hands. “So,” he said, staring straight into her eyes. They seemed a bit wide and relaxed, as if she was relieved to see him. It was probably the relief of finally being able to speak with someone after being held for two long days. “Miss Nadia Ivanov.” He continued. “You know at first glance I didn’t peg you as a terrorist. But I guess I was wrong.”
All Joseph had to do was to make her admit that she was involved with the FISS and he would have had leverage. He waited for her to say some kind of statement of concurrence, but she remained silent. Still staring at him with those large relaxed eyes.
“Do you speak English?” Joseph asked, sarcastically. “Or maybe you just have nothing to say, given the overwhelming thought of the amount of trouble you’re in.” He then mocked her with a smirk. “And I really doubt a girl like you would last a day in Guantanamo. So make it easy on yourself sweetheart, help me find the real criminal and I promise to make your future whole lot easier on you.”
Nadia tuned away and sighed, she didn’t expect him to believe anything she would say, so what was the point of even trying. She also didn’t believe any of his petty promises to help her, how could he call her uncle the criminal when his nation has done more damage then the terrorist themselves.
Nadia finally turned back, this time squinting her eyes a bit and stiffing her stare into Joseph’s. She wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction. “Hassan Ahmadi is not the one you’re looking for.” She said. Although she was half Russian, her strong accent showed that she had spent most of her life in Syria. “If anything, he’s doing more good than you are!” She snapped with anger. Just being around American soldiers reminded her of her mother and brother and America’s involvement. There was no way she would give up the man who saved her to the people who murdered her family.
Joseph gave a loud and obvious sigh; he still couldn’t see her as anything more than the innocent girl from the village that wanted to protect her people. It was apparent that she was brainwashed by Hassan into thinking he was a righteous man. He couldn’t understand how she was completely overlooking the fact that it was an attack by the FISS that caused her family’s deaths. Though in her defense they still had no hard evidence to link Hassan to the FISS, only the suspicions of the United States Congress. He needed to press her more, and get her to say something useful, if even out of anger.
“Good?” He ask, refereeing to her statement about Hassan. “Do think coordinating the murder of thousands of people is good? For whom? If you truly want to do good, help us stop that.”
“You don’t know that you’re talking about!” She replied. “Hassan is helping people, just as he did for me.”
“Well if he’s so innocent than why doesn’t he turn himself in, and explain that himself.”
“Because he doesn’t trust you and neither do I!”
“And you trust him?” Joseph exclaimed with anger, unintentional slamming his palms to the table. He was beginning to get annoyed by Nadia’s stubbornness. “He’s currently roaming free and is leaving you to take the heat for his actions. What kind of noble man does that?”
“I’m here from my own actions, not his.” Nadia answered boldly. She stared him straight in the eyes, showing no regret. “After everything he’s done for me and the others, he doesn’t even need to ask.”
Joseph sighed and stepped back for a moment, sliding his hand away as he tried to calm himself down. In a way he wasn’t too surprised by Nadia’s courage, and a little impressed. However it was her allegiance that was the problem. He kept going back to the when he had first seen her in the village, clutching tightly on to that little boy while boldly staring down the barrel of their rifles. Even then she was willing sacrifice herself for another. He had to admit that of all the time he and his squad spent training the Syrian opposition soldiers, he had never seen a single one display the kind of courage and allegiance to their cause as Naida was. If only they were on the same side.
“Sarge?” Came the unsuspected voice of Marc, from the now half opened door of the room.
Joseph slightly glanced back as Marc and nodded in conformation before Marc stepped back and re-closed the door. Whatever message Marc had to tell him, neither wanted to say anything in front of their prisoner.
Joseph stepped back to the table and grabbed the file. “We’re not done here.” He said before turning and walking out of the door.
Wasting no time she placed the stack of pages on the table and immediately began to spread them out, revealing sketches of various images. Each one related to specific dream. She rummaged through the pile until coming to the image of the black dove. Its eyes filled with red veins and the black tar dripping from its feathers into the dark cloudy sea. All as made its determined flight toward the setting sun.
Sophia flipped the sketch over revealing dozens of marks on its back. With the latest making it, ninety-three. Ninety-three times she's had this particular dream, much more than her others. Yet like the others, she was no where closer to figuring out its meaning. She spent months researching them, and being employed by one of Louisiana's biggest libraries, she had centuries of information at her disposal. Yet despite looking through hundreds of books on philosophy, mythology and psychology she was no where closer to deciphering them then she when the dreams first started.
“I'm sure you can find better uses for your breaks.” Came the voice of her co-work Susan.
Startled by Susan's sudden appearance, Sophia unintentionally knocked some of her sketches to the floor. Susan then spoke with a chuckle. “Calm down.” she said while helping Sophia pick them up. “It's only me.”
“Sorry.” Sophia replied with sigh. “Guest I was zoned out again.”
“I'd say. Don't tell me its more of your dreams.”
After placing the final page back on the table, Sophia dropped her eyes back on the sketches, with her palms firmly placed on top of them.
“Are you even taking your meds?” Susan asked.
“I don't need pills Susan!” Sophia exclaimed. She was little irritated by Susan's statement, but it was true. She refused to believe that she was sick, and was feeling a bit disheartened that no one seemed to take her seriously.
“Everyone has random dreams every now and then.”
“But these aren't random.” Sophie begged. “Look, I don't know how, but I know that something more to this. Some message I'm suppose to get.”
Sophia stepped back to get a clear view of her sketches. Across the library the sunlight was shining down from a circular window onto the table top. It was her favorite place to think, up on the highest floor of the library and behind a wooden railing that overlooked the library's first floor. Behind her were shelves of books of metaphysical studies. It was least popular section of the library, however she knew that if someone were to ever be looking in the metaphysical section, they most likely wouldn't be the type to judge her.
Susan, on the other hand, thought she was just having a nerves break down, or losing it over the constant isolation from her husband, Micheal, always being away on business trips. Which is why she never wanted to leave Sophia alone for too long. Especially when she was having one of her crazed episodes after another restless night of nightmares.
As Sophia vigorously searched through her sketches and books to help translate them, Susan just stood by, sipping a hot mug of coffee. She would usually play along, hoping to somehow make Sophia understood that her dreams were no product of divine intervention but her subconscious mind acting out its lonesomeness. But after months of trying to her best to be subtle she had grown tired of Sophia's stubbornness and began to be more direct.
“You need to relax.” Susan said. “Michael will be home this weekend. Everything will be okay. Give yourself a break from all of this and hold out just a few more days. You'll be fine.”
"I'm not lonely, Susan!” Again Sophia felt dishearten, and the thought of Micheal returning home only to judge her the same was even more devastating. But Susan did have a point, Micheal would be home in a few days, which meant she had only a few days of freedom to work on her dreams until he returns and dissuade her against it. Though she was looking forward to seeing him, she didn't want to have to deal with him being condescending toward her. There was only one way she could think to convince him and everyone else that she was right. Only one way to prove that they were more than just dreams and that was to finally decipher their messages. Something that she has yet to do since the dreams had first started.
The black dove was the most important, or at least that's what she had expected. Of all the dreams she'd had, the black dove happened the most and unlike the others that happen for a couple of weeks then stop, the black dove dream has never stopped. It was the very first dream she had when it all started, and ironically the last. However, the black dove was always the hardest to understand. Unlike the others which giave her various clues, the black dove gave her nothing to work with. So although she had wanted to decipher its meaning the most, doing it in the short amount of time before Micheal returned was unrealistic. So she had to focus on another dream, her most recent.
Sophia began to dig her fingers through the pile of sketches before coming to a specific one. It was a large stone, beige building. A distinctive building which she recognized very well, being that Michael was a lawyer. It was the 15th Judicial District, Lafayette Parish Courthouse. It stood alone on a bright sunny day, before dark clouds began to form, followed by three loud thunderclaps. She had thought it was odd that the thunder was not preceded by lighting. Only the thunder alone, accompanied by loud screams. The screams started slightly before the thunderclaps, as though whoever screamed had knew it was coming. The last image she remembered of the dream was a single red rose.
Sophia had only had this dream once, and it usually took a few nights before she was able to identify every detail. She knew that there was more to it, more to the rose. Many of her dreams are chaotic with everything happening so sudden, as the case of this one. With everything that had happened she wasn't able to get a clear picture of what was going on with the rose, only the chaos that was surrounding it.
However, everything else in the dream had led her to believe that something would happen at the courthouse. Being that the screams come slightly before the thunderclaps and with no lightning, led her to believe that it wasn't thunder at all. They were screaming because they may have saw something the moment before it happened, a violent shooting. It had to be, three gunshots that echoed around the block.
Now for the rose, what could the rose have meant, and why was it there?
“This is it Susan.” She said, taking a step back to stand by Susan's side as she stared down at her sketches.
“What?” Susan asked in a cynical tone. She was growing tired of standing there and watching Sophia obsessively stare at her sketches.
“I think I've got something, something that will prove that these are more than just dreams.”
Susan sighed as she rolled her eyes. “Fine,” She said. “What do you have?”
Sophia walked back over to the table and grabbed the sketch of her recent dream. “I believe that in the near future there be a shooting at the courthouse.” She said.
“That's ridiculous, Sophia what makes more sense? You being able to see the future, or that your just subconsciously you're worried about your husbands safety because he's a lawyer?”
“Wait!” Exclaimed Sophia, as Susan's words had given her a thought. The rose. She rushed toward the book shelves behind them to specific book. One she knew exactly where it was, being that she's used it a lot since her dreams had started.
It as a book of dream interpretations. She began to flip through the pages as she made her way back to the table and placed it down as Susan looked over her shoulder.
“Look.” Sophia said as she brought up the image of a rose in the book. “In dreams, Roses often represents a loved one, or someone you care about.”
Susan, again rolled her eyes. “I know where you're going with this.” she said, before closing the book and pulling it away from Sophia's hands. “As I said, you're just worried about Michael's safety because he's a lawyer, that's it. It doesn't mean anything is going to happen, it means that you're worried something will. In fact, that's what all of this probably means.” She said gesturing toward the table, obsessively littered with sketches. “Michael is always away and you're always worried. You're lonely Sophia, that's all.”
“No.” Sophia objected. “I don't know how I can ever explain this to you, somehow I know its more than that. I can feel it, in my heart.”
“Nothing is going to happen okay. Micheal will be back in a few days and you'll feel a lot better. I promise.”
Sophia sighed, she didn't ever expect Susan to understand and without knowing every detail of the Courthouse dream, she didn't quite understand herself. However Susan did make one point, when Michael would return she knew that she would feel a lot better. Maybe she could explain to him what she had found. It was a long shot, because Michael always seemed more skeptical that everyone else, but at least he actually listen to her thoughts without rudely dismissing them like everyone else. She knew that he thought she was ill and needed help, but he still supported her. That alone gave her the courage to continue to investigate her dreams, hoping that one day she would prove that she's right.
A tear? After everything, and every cold choice that Samuel has made that brought him to this point, he never for a second thought it would end in tears. At least not his own. No, why would he feel any sympathy at all for these people. They chose their paths and should be competent enough to understand the rules of consequence. So why tears, why now?
Maybe letting go was all Samuel really wanted and couldn't find the right outlet to do it. But why? Why was he the one who had to let go, why did he always have to be the bigger person yet still lose at the end. Well now it was obvious that he would never win, but at least he had the comfort of knowing that, this time, they wouldn't win either.
“I couldn't tell you the number of failures it took before I finally understood my true destiny.” He said while rolling an ounce of wine around the bottom of a clear glass.
He was staring ahead, pass his reflection on a pane glass window to the crowded streets below. The dark city was lit only by torches and burning barrels. With only very few building were still able to receive power, Samuel's being one of them, of course.
“You don't, have, to do this, Sam.” Came pleas of Nicholas, who's reflection stood behind Samuel's several feet away. “There's still time, these people look up to you. We can use that to our advantage and rebuild. The world can finally be a better place.”
“If only it were that simple little brother.” Samuel replied, staring into Nicholas's reflection with a half smirk. “No one sets out to be the bad guy, you set out to change the world and heal the wounds of society. Until the day you realize just how deep those wounds go and that the only way to save the world is to put it down like a rabid dog.”
Nicholas was staring deep into the cold brown eyes of Samuel's reflection. Still it felt unreal to see how far Samuel had fallen over the years. This was not the older brother he had grew up with, not the one who shielded him from the trauma of watching their parents fight when they were kids. Not the same brother who turned his back on everything he worked so hard to gain, just save him from a death sentence. When he thought about it, it maybe have been that very act that put Samuel on his catastrophic path.
Samuel was always the good one, bending over backwards to help others. And although Nicholas understood how a lack of recognition and acceptance could push anyone other the edge, Samuel allowed himself be seduced by the resulting anger and hatred. And when an angel falls he'll usually take the world with him.
Staring down toward the chaotic crowd while still holding his smirk, Samuel took a sip of his wine. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served,” he said. “but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. And that's what I'm doing, cleansing the Earth of this filth. And after everything I have sacrificed, all that's left to give is my life.”
“I'm a monster Nick!” Samuel exclaimed as he turned around to face his brother. “In order to guide them, I had to become one of them. The only way I can save them now is to destroy them. This world needs to reset and this is the only way it can”
At that point, Nicholas had no choice but to accept the truth. Whomever the man was, that stood before him that night, was not his brother. “What happened to you?” He asked in a soft whimper.
Samuel gave a sigh before glancing at his watch. “I finally accepted the truth.” He said, turning back around toward the window. “The lord has found the cries of humanity's injustice so serious, that he has sent me to destroy it.”
Samuel then stared ahead, past his reflection and out past the tall buildings as he saw a sudden bright flash in the distance as it engulfed the city. A perfect ending for a figure such as himself. All the pain and suffering he had to endure has led him to this very moment.
Samuel thought that it was a fate humanity brought upon its self. People chose to their lives of sin and luxury. They were the ones who started their own down fall and all Samuel could do was to guide them to their inevitable end and make one final sacrifice for the good of mankind, his life. And as for Nicholas, he could do nothing but watch as the one who once turned him from his own wicked ways, descend lower than he had gone himself.
Twelve years ago, it would have been easier to see their roles reversed. Samuel was always a righteous man, he'd do whatever he could to help someone in need. His dream was to change and lead humanity by example. He was always smart, ambitious and full of potential. It was his drive to do good which lead him to a great job working for the United States government.
Nicholas on the other hand, didn't have much care for the world's well being as his older brother. Newly released from prison to even less than he had before his initial sentence and new found resentment for his brother. Because while Samuel was out, saving the world, he was stuck to clean up the mess.
The ground was still a bit wet from the a recent week of rain which left the sky bright and clear for the first day of his new life. A life he dreaded to go back to. What was the point now that his mother was gone? And the worst part was his guilt for not being there when she needed him the most. He knew that the moment they shut his cell doors her fate was sealed, despite how much he begged and plead with the judge and his ,double crossing, lawyer for help. He and came to terms with her lost before it even happened, all that was left now was to get even. A path that would lead to his end but at this point, what else did he have to loose?
Nicholas stopped for a second, standing just outside of the prison gates. He wasn't expecting anyone to be keeping up with his sentence, much less there waiting on him when he had gotten out. But who else would he be, standing next the same beat-up old red car Nicholas remembered seeing from when he was a teenager. His father had lost all interest in church years prior, after all, he had more important things to do like work and drink. He'd always remember his mother, brother and himself pulling in on the church's grassy lawn, before the congregation was moved into the city. It's actual driveway was only big enough for one vehicle, Pastor Kurt's old red car. Nicholas was surprised to see it still lasting this long, his faith seemed to have been paying off in some way at least.
Although seeing Pastor Kurt waiting on him wasn't exactly what he as wanted, it was much better than seeing Samuel standing in front of that car instead.
One very tragic aspect of Failure is the toll is takes on your self-esteem. We are all possess with a natural pride about who we are and what we do. Rather big or small, everyone has an ego. It's the thing that often hides our Failures from us. Or perhaps, hide, isn't the correct word to use in this case. It's more like, it puts our Failures off to the side and causes us to refuse to admit a lost cause. It's never easy admitting our mistakes, cause by doing so you're admitting that you're wrong which means you're admitting that you have Failed, and no one wants to admit they're a Failure. The prime reason for this is that people tend to subconsciously measure their worth based on their worst qualities rather than their best. Enter the ego, the ego has a simple fix for this very problem. Our egos refuse to let our peers see our worst qualities so it finds ways to cover it up. We're all guilty of this at some point in our lives, some by projecting their self hatred on others, but the most common way we cover our faults, is by focusing so much on our outward appearances. The way we dress, the way we act, that way we're always trying to assert ourselves to our peers; trying our best to show we are the complete opposite of what we refuse to see in ourselves.
Throughout history we have seen this on many scales, from personal to massive. Jim Jones, infamous cult leader who was responsible for one of the biggest mass suicides in American history. His story is a perfect example of how the ego covers up our true faults. To his followers he was a savior. He would help the poor and the sick. He taught peace and love, and made it known that he was personally responsible for all of the good his organization had done and many praised him for it. Yet few could see the true monster behind his charisma. He was a man who loved the spotlight a little too much. He grew obsessed with power and developed a secret addiction to drugs. He would lie to his followers and fake miracles, in order to build the popularity of his church. All because he was a man who measured his worth based off of how the public viewed him. Therefore everything he had done was for the sake of publicity, the sake of building his follower and raising his ego, which ultimately lead to a tragic end. When people and the media began to question him, and investigate the dishonesty of his nature, instead of admitting his faults he fled to Guyana, taking his followers with him. There he continued his drug addiction and charismatic facade, and had built up his ego to the point of self destruction. Again, taking his followers with him.
The story of Jim Jones is truly a tragic one, and an example of the ego on a personal scale. The best example of this on a massive scale, is one quite similar to an issue we still face today. The issue of racism. Racism and hate groups are an excuse for one to feel superior to those around them, instead of admitting their personal imperfections. I'd have to say that the most prime example of this would be the holocaust. Germany was suffering financially, socially and more importantly its people's moral was low after their epic lost of the first world war. Rather them admitting that they had to change as a society, they blamed the Jews and, like any overblown ego, it ended tragically for everyone.
Now your probably thinking, “But Gabriel I'm not a Nazi or a cult leader, so how does this relate to me?” Well, lets dive deep into our views of society. I've walked many paths and dabbled in many cultures in my life. I can truly say that most people that I have crossed paths with, values their worth on on their worst qualities. For example when I was in the Navy, many of my old co-workers would always give me a hard time about my appearance in term of style. I was always a simple man in that department. I never really cared much about jewelry, expensive cloths or tattoos. My philosophy was always, if it's cheap and looks good I'll buy it. (Hence why I love Walmart, but I digress) I had gotten so much hardships for my choice in style by my peers, but I always knew that it was because they truly valued worth based on outward appearances because as people they had many flaws. Flaws which they never wanted to admit to so they viewed everyone else as they viewed themselves. Wisdom and intelligence was never a factor, to them it was more about what others thought of them rather them themselves. If you would have read my “Happiness” blog post, then you would know that I believe that true happiness comes from contentment within.
Fast forward through my life. Where I work now, my peers show me a lot more respect, because most of them are the type who automatically look past appearance to the person within. Unlike the others, they view my strengths rather than my faults.
So in a nut shell, Failure happens to us many times, therefore you can cannot measure your worth based on your fault because that's what causes the ego to intervene. Your worth can only be measured by looking at your best qualities, the personal aspects about you that makes others smile, and that is how you measure your worth.
As an added bonus to this post, I wanted to give you all a little exercise on how you can get an exact measurement of your worth.
After doing this, you'll have a pretty good feeling as what your true value.
(Excuse me if there are grammar errors, I Failed English in high school.)
First and foremost, let me welcome you to my new blog series I call “Failure 101”. And yes I will treat this blog series like a course because I will be bestowing my knowledge and thoughts behind the concept of Failure. Oxford defines Failure as “Lack of Success”. There are a few other meanings it gives but they all basically say the same thing only in various ways of complexity. However this blog series is designed to put more of a philosophical meaning behind the concept. Failure is a big part of every created entity, big or small. Just take a moment to look around you, every object you see, every peace of technology we use on a daily basis evolved from many Failures.
Walt Disney was fired from a Missouri news paper for not having creative ideas.
The Beatles were rejected on their first audition and told that the studio didn't like the sound.
And my favorite “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias.” The exact words told to Stephen King went he presented the manuscript for “Carrie”. In fact “Carrie” was rejected by 30 publishers before he finally gave up and threw it in the trash, then 20 more before it was finally published. (Of course me being an Author is the main reason this Failure influences me the most.)
My point is, Failure is a necessary part of all journeys big or small. Failure comes a lot more than its opposite. A word I am trying to refrain from saying for the entirety of this series. My goal in this is to focus primarily on Failure. I will dive into its many forms and influence on well known figures throughout history. More importantly, I will go into how to deal with Failure, and how it affects us all at one point. Lastly I will be posting various vlogs in this series with interviews of others sharing their history with Failure and the impact it had on their lives. (Speaking of which, if you believe that you have an inspirational story about Failure that you would like to share, send me a message.)
And to conclude this introduction, I'll give you a little about my relationship with Failure. I'm not going to go into too much detail about it right now, because throughout this series I will be sharing more about my past Failures as it relates to the topics of each post.
Failure is always the turning point of our lives and if I had to sum it up in one statement, I'd say that “Failure is my greatest achievement”. Even as an infant I failed to come out of the womb on the correct day. As far as I can remember I have been working hard to make my mark on this world. I've wanted to achieve great things and inspire people through my actions and work. I've wanted to live a fulfilling life, making lots of friends and starting a family. I always told myself that by the time I'm 30 I would have accomplished enough in my life that I would be able to settle down and start a family. But obviously if I had achieved all of that than you wouldn't be reading this blog right now.
I have spent my entire life, sacrificing so much to achieve what I set out to do and Failed measurably in every aspect. I've failed multiple times in my career, in relationships, even in my family. I've done so much yet have nothing to show for it. I have even Failed as a person. It took me a long time to admit my faults and even longer to find the courage to do something about it. And now, haven finally accepted my own mortality, I praise every Failure with cheers. My Failures are what showed me who I really was and made me understand my true worth. The best thing I can do at this point is teach others the true value of Failure and the importance it is to us as a society. Even evolution is a product of the Failures of our species and it's how we deal with that Failure that defines who we truly are. Failure is inevitable, everyone who sets out into the world is destined to Failure many more times than they will achieve. And when you do Fail it doesn't mean that you are worthless or not meant to do great things, its just means that you have a lot more to learn before you're able to reach your true potential. Failure is only a validation that nothing is absolute, and it's the thing that makes our accomplishments so meaningful. It is our Failures, not our accomplishments that provides us with the wisdom to mentor and inspire those who will come after us.
So take what you will from this series. Because it will not be about praising the triumph of heroes or recognizing the great deeds by the Kings of our past. It isn't about showing you your best, it's about recognizing your worst. Because without Failure there can be no Victory.
Yes it's been a while since my last actual blog post, maybe even years if you don't count “God of War” AKA “GOW” which I highly recommend you check out. Just don't show it to the kids, or read it yourself if you're easily offended. But in this day an age, who is, right. I mean, this is an age where people are trying to elect a man who is vulgar and brash for a president. Anyway, I'm suppose to be talking about “Suicide Squad.” which totally killed it, with a gross of $165M in the US and $326M+ globally. I enjoyed every minute of that movie as did everyone I talked to who also watched it. Will Smith really stole the show and in my opinion he was the one who made it so great. Joker was okay to. But here is something I've learned from this film and many others over this past year. NEVER RELY CRITIC REVIEWS! They gave this film the worst possible review yet it was so much better than they said it was. I thought the film did a very good job at providing decent back stories of each of the characters and development, given their limited time of the film. This wasn't a traditional superhero story, and didn't play out as such, but than again it wasn't a superhero story it was about the villains. Which I also thought the film did a good job showing. All of these characters were in it for themselves, not caring about doing the right thing, only about fulfilling their personal needs which in turn, led them to a path of heroism. Similar to Megamind, but unlike Megamind after they succeeded they went back to their evil ways, only with a bit more pride for who they were and more sentimental about their motives. If this film's goal was to show that “bad guys are people to” then it struck the point dead on. Now for the critics in all of this and why I don't trust their opinions. Unlike the rest of us, a critic's job is to break down the film and analysis every little aspect, from the art direction to the dialogue. They have to watch the film with a filmmaker's eyes, pointing out every single flaw. Not unlike, contest judges who watch a competitor with a trained eye, focusing specifically on what's wrong instead of enjoying whats right. As the audience, we have the freedom to just sit down and enjoy a film, not nit picking every tiny thing. Critics are not suppose to enjoy it, their suppose to judge it and of course by that logic, nothing will be good enough. But you can sit here and read my review or the many reviews on rotten tomatoes trying to figure out if this film is worth your time, or you can relax, take a day off and treat yourself to a nice dinner and a movie and escape life for a while.
Centuries ago demons were seen as physical beings that would lurk in the shadows, haunting the nightmares of humanity. Modern demons are the ones which lurk deep within our psyche, The ones which influences our actions and keep us from reaching our full potentials.
I know I've already put out two uplifting inspirational blogs, which I’ve gotten inspiring responses and thanks from people for me posting them. However I don’t want everyone to get the wrong idea about my messages. Now in a perfect world, we can easily set aside our fears and live in a harmonious sync with fate, allowing all our ambitions to flourish with little effort.
But our true missions in life isn’t to succeed, it’s to grow. It’s for our limits to be tested and our faults to be brought into light. We’re all facing struggles, whether it be the ghost from our past scaring us from living life to it’s fullest, or struggles of our present stopping us from progressing any further. As I mentioned in my “Happiness” blog we can’t accept happiness until we let go of our fears, however I didn’t quite explained how difficult that can be.
My main demons have always been the fear of repeating my past mistakes. This has been preventing me from making certain moves and preventing me from accepting happiness, but I never said that I had it all figured out. In fact I’m only writing these blogs as a way for me to reflect on my own life.
Our demons can often become an obsession, keeping us going back to the same things over and over, that for a moment give us a brief sense of happiness but hurts us more and more each time. Or our demons can also be an excuse that keeps us from taking changes and trying different ways to see the world around us. Or even that damn dog that keeps barking every night when you’re trying to sleep. Swear I’m going to kill that thing one day!
Whatever it is, we all have them and they’ll always be there haunting our psyche and slowing us down. Even after you’ve fixed the problems, conquered your fears and let go of your pain, even when you’ve finally accepted happiness and are able to live out your days in peace, your demons will still be there. Sticking around to remind you of your struggles, how much you’ve grown, and most importantly, to give you the wisdom you need to help others overcome their own.