Culture vulture

Noms de plume vs. secret identities
Some of us, and by us I mean myself, C. Owsley Rain, and my literary progenitor, Mark Twain, aka Samuel L. Clemens, think it’s beneficial to have a nom de plume under which to publish the productions of our fervent consciences and fertile imaginations. Sure, I could rearrange the letters of my name to spell something weird and ominous like A. Crowley Sin or frivolously goofy like La Noisy Crew, but no, I chose for very personal reasons to create a name and a persona called C. Owsley Rain.

Previously when I’ve chosen to use an image of my face in the illustration space for the column, my esteemed editor Mr. Gascoyne has expressed concern that I’ve “outed” myself. And I’ve always reassured him that such exposure does nothing to harm the integrity of either the persona or the actual person who bears the burden of that face.

In this morally and socially fragmented post-modern world we can all only really be who we’re most sincerely pretending to be, after all. But most of us can also be quite a few other people if we’d just allow ourselves the opportunity.

What about soldiers?
I can (or can imagine that I can) hear certain dissenters muttering that the above pile of labyrinthine blather fails to take into consideration the very sincerely “real” personalities of those who have chosen to live the most sincere, real, and dangerous life that a person can live, the life of a soldier willing to abandon the comforts of home to travel to a foreign land to face and deal out death under the harshest of physical and spiritual circumstances. And I’ve got to admit that my deepest concerns about the continuance of the human endeavor reside with these noble sojourners.

There is not a volunteer soldier on the face of the Earth who doesn’t believe that his calling is an honorable one. I don’t dispute that belief. But when religious fanaticism and economic opportunism are becoming indistinguishable in their mutual quests for domination of everything that is noble, righteous and compassionate, I believe it would be worthwhile for all soldiers to sincerely question any orders requiring them to bring harm to innocent people. Especially when those orders are coming from people who are not and have no intention of becoming personally involved in the torturous consequences of the actions that they are ordering others to carry out.

It would be interesting to pick a day—let’s say, oh, August 15, 2005—to pass the word through all the ranks of all the soldiers on all sides of every armed conflict on the face of the Earth that on that day they would refuse to carry out any order that involved the killing, maiming or otherwise damaging of any noncombatant personnel.

Would leaders who demanded that their orders be carried out despite inevitable civilian casualties be revealed as sociopathic monsters with no conscience of compassion? Would leaders who said, “The harming of noncombatants really is absurd, given that my leadership is ultimately imposed to protect innocent people from harm,” be revered as heroes who dared to assert sanity in a culture too long dominated by psychopathic leadership?

Culture Vulture doesn’t know. But I’d love to find out.