Bush’s War of Terror

Throughout history there are countless times when a leader’s decision is not supported and is looked at as an evil action, but there are also many times that this evil action is simply the lesser of two evils. To truly understand a leaders motives it is key to understand this parallel and be able to discern between evil and mandatory evils.

There’s not much debate over whether or not United States President George Bush made a huge mistake when he sent military into the Middle East. This allocation of force, to essentially police the world, has yielded nothing but senseless bloodshed on both sides of the fight, soaring public debt and lack of international confidence in American leadership. It’s because of these decisions that Bush’s presidency will undoubtedly be labeled as one of the biggest failures and set-backs that the U.S. has ever seen.

On September 11, 2001, one of the worst tragedies in United States history befell the citizens of New York City. As the twin World Trade Center towers fell, Americans were galvanized into a unified force of justice. Never before had the country been brought so easily to its knees or made to feel so humble in its lack of safety. 2,726 American citizens lost their lives that day, and no conversation at the time was more popular than revenge (Deaths). In the following weeks, all eyes were on President Bush’s plans for action against those who so coldly murdered our families, friends and fellow Americans.

On October 7, 2001, American plans for vengeance finally hit foreign soil. The threat and cause of 9-11 was quickly recognized, and military was immediately sent out in force to nullify this source of evil. It was on this day that people across the country could begin to heal. It was on this day that the United States’ “War on Terror” began.

This proud assertion of United States military power was the crowning moment of Bush’s career, but it was not to last. Within three months of beginning the assault on the Taliban in Afghanistan, the civilian death toll accredited to U.S. bombs dwarfed the 2,726 Americans lost in the towers. With over 3,000 innocent men, women and civilian children dead, the, “War on Terror,” quickly started to be viewed of a, “War of Terror,” by people all over the world (Herold). As the collateral damage death toll began to climb it became quite evident that this war was no longer about bringing people to justice; it was about making a statement about the United States’ defense strategy.

At this point, the people of the U.S. were blinded by anger against the realities of war in the Middle East, and the power of suggestion made an assault on Iraq easy for Bush to make reality. Rumors of weapons of mass destruction and an infamous tyrant, Saddam Hussein, were too big a temptation to the blood thirst of the president, so on March 20, 2003, the full force of the American military broke upon the shores of Iraq. Quickly the air force attained air superiority and the ground forces moved through crushing all opposition. Like the falling of the towers though this fight had sever costs paid in American lives. 4,390 U.S. soldiers lost their lives between 2003 and 2010 for Bush’s fight, and it cost a projected $900 billion in the same time frame to keep military presence in Iraq (White).

It’s at this point that people may begin to think following such a war monger of a president into these wars wasn’t such a great idea. The war in Iraq certainly cost America dearly, but it’s the numbers hidden behind the scenes that should turn even the most militant of citizens in to peace loving humans. 4,390 United States soldiers is a huge price to pay, but like in Afghanistan, this number is made to appear small compared to the collateral damage. Approximately 100,000 innocent humans lost their lives in Iraq due directly to U.S. presence (Iraq).

Surely with this information in hand, it has become evident that the United States does not possess the proper means to fight wars without causing unacceptable loss of life and damaging the economy by overspending on defensive budgetary needs. At what point should Bush’s actions be considered too abrupt? Ignorant predictions about the collateral damage that would be sustained certainly can’t be used as an excuse for his actions. Statistics show that with every decade the ratio of civilian deaths to military deaths rises dramatically. During World War I, there was one civilian death for every eight military deaths. During World War II, that number increased to two civilians for every military member dead.  In the 1990’s, the numbers balloon even further out of control hitting 9 civilians for every 10 military deaths (Danziger 347). As we’ve seen in the first wars of the 21st century even those terrible numbers have been far surpassed.

Clearly projecting American ideals into the Middle East was the worst idea of Bush’s term as president, and most tax payers would agree that he did a terrible job for the country and the world. According to numerous polls, between 60 and 75 percent of Americans disapproved of his job rating (Bush), and in 2003 approximately two thirds of the world’s population agrees that Bush was wrong for invading the Middle East (BBC).

This is obviously a widely accepted household view of America’s fight against the Middle East, but unfortunately for those who subscribe to this viewpoint, they have been mislead. As Arthur Herman observed, “According to an April 2008, poll in U.S. News & World Report, fully 61 percent of American historians agree that George W. Bush is the worst President in our history. Some of these scholars cite the President’s position on the environment, or on taxes, or on the economy. For most, though, the chief qualification for obloquy lies in Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq.” Unfortunately, it can be found with some further research that this villainization of George Bush truly is a perfect example of American arrogance at work.

When considering an area that has been war torn for centuries, like the Middle East, it is truly impossible to believe that anything can be as black and white as simply blaming one man. Surely if persistent logic is used, Bush being the cause of every problem in the area cannot be the conclusion that is drawn. It should be quite obvious to the astute dialectical thinker that there are more clues locked away in the history of the region.

To explain why Bush reacted in the way that he did, we must first discover why the Middle East feels the way they feel and why they have acted upon the U.S. in the ways that they have. This knowledge can be attained only through the history of the region and the history of the U.S.’s involvement.

To explore this further and discover the real truth, the point when U.S. involvement in the area must first be found. The true origins of these conflicts are, in truth, far from the Middle East and begin 60 years ago. They lie within the U.S. itself and within its Cold War rival the Soviet Union. The cold war was a time of great fear for both the U.S. and Russia. The dawn of the nuclear age spawned a new and frightening type of war that was based upon the balance of power. Nuclear deterrence was the only insurance and maintaining a perfect balance against the enemy the only means of survival.

As both countries struggled for control of strategic positions all over the world, the fight was inevitably brought to the Middle East. Russia’s support for Palestinian nations in the area gave enough reason for U.S. concern so that on May 25, 1950, the United States stepped into the area hoping to limit Soviet influence. With France and England by their side, the U.S. issued the Tripartite Declaration which opposes any changes of boundaries by force and agrees to supply both Israel and the Arab nations with weapons for defense. This assertion into the area naturally didn’t go over well with the Soviets, and a persistent struggle ensued over the next 30 years. During this period, a strict new polarization of the forces in the region emerged with the U.S. forces taking the side of Israel and the Soviets taking the side of Arab nations. Both sides of this fight acted as well supplied puppets to their cold war rival puppet masters, and both sides accrued equally terrible casualties (Cold).

It is through this support that the region forged opinions about the U.S. Years of war supplies flooding the area and being used to kill combatants and civilians alike created sever anger towards both the entities using the weapons and the ones supplying the weapons. If Afghanistan can be used as an example of this effect, the Taliban was supplied by the Afghanistan government which allowed them to carry out the attacks of 9/11. The anger of Americans towards the Afghanistan government following these attacks should be a sure indication of the anger felt by Arab nations that have been opposed to American support for over 50 years. Not only have we aided in the taking of their lives, but we have also stepped into a religious war that can’t possibly be understood from an outside viewpoint.

The assault on Afghanistan however can hardly be refuted as a mistake within the citizens of the U.S. this was clearly a war that was championed by the desires of all, and is rarely regarded as one of Bush’s mistakes, but many still believe the all out war against the Middle East is stepping to far.

With this amount of Middle Eastern anger towards America in mind, it is hard to see how conflict could have possibly been avoided. Now Bush’s side begins to come clear. Given the history of leaders in the area, what other response would have worked? With the history and information available, entering the Middle East with goals of peace were not a choice; they were a mandatory move that only Bush had the guts to act on.

Many people will claim that no president saw need to invade Iraq other than Bush, so it wasn’t necessary. This claim is clearly refuted by Bill Clinton’s words while in office, “Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas, or biological weapons. . . . Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there is one big difference: he has used them. Not once, but repeatedly. . . . I have no doubt today that, left un-checked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again.” Clinton was not alone in this opinion when his act authorizing the liberation of Iraq was passed unanimously in the senate and by a margin of 360 to 38 in the house (Herman). This willingness to use weapons of mass destruction by Saddam is a well known fact and is not refuted, so clearly it was acceptable then and should have also been for Bush.

The opportunity was given for the liberation of Iraq during Clinton’s presidency, but was avoided due to the belief that it would not have been supported by the tax payers. Bush simply acted on the common need of the country when it was acceptable to do so, and should therefore be looked at as a visionary who knew how to properly time the allegiance of the public.

It is with the true knowledge of the situation that the U.S. faced in 2003 that it is easy to say, Bush was not the worst president in history. He was the exact president we needed at the time, but he was faced with a time that could not have built support for his actions. It is often the heroes of history that are looked at as the biggest villains, but there is no denying that without him future wars may have been plagued with weapons of mass destruction and never before seen fatalities.

Works Cited

“BBC NEWS | Americas | Poll Suggests World Hostile to US.” BBC NEWS | News Front Page. 16 June 2003. Web. 21 Apr. 2010.

“Bush: Job Ratings.” PollingReport.com. Web. 21 Apr. 2010.

“Cold War.” Boston College. Web. 21 Apr. 2010.

Danziger, James N. “Political Violence.” Understanding the Political World: a Comparative Introduction to Political Science. New York: Pearson Longman, 2009. Print.

“Deaths in World Trade Center Terrorist Attacks — New York City, 2001.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 20 Apr. 2010.

Herman, Arthur. “Why Iraq Was Inevitable.” Commentary. Web. 21 Apr. 2010.

Herold, Marc W. “Civilian Victims of United States’ Aerial Bombing of Afghanistan.” Cursor.org – Table of Contents Page. Web. 21 Apr. 2010.

Iraq Body Count. Web. 21 Apr. 2010.

White, Deborah. “Iraq War Facts, Statistics at March 29, 2010 – Iraq War Casualties, Spending, Iraqi Quality of Life.” Liberal & Progressive Politics & Perspectives. 12 Apr. 2010. Web. 21 Apr. 2010.

The Injustices of Justice

The conceptual theory of justice is not and cannot be properly applied to any human society. In order to explain and begin to further explore this statement, the term at the very root of the matter “justice” must first be defined. This term has been used very loosely for centuries to describe and make the rules which govern the way our society punishes the un-just, but what many don’t realize is that the term has much further reaching meanings than just that. The term justice is more than a simple means of saying what is right and wrong, and it has much deeper implications than just punishing what is wrong. It is because of the false definitions and uses of this term that justice must be re-analyzed, why it is ultimately impossible and why for the good of society, it must be abolished.

Justice is an equal and opposite reaction for every action we perform with the purpose of validating our past by our present. This can be a negative reaction to a positive action or a positive reaction to a positive action. Justice is a finely tuned equation organized to exactly balance every aspect of human existence. It attempts to validate the past through the present.

The use of the past in the equation of justice implies that the equation starts at zero, so if there is no initial action than there is no need for reaction and the balance is held at zero. If there is either positive action or negative action, than there has to be opposite reaction in order to bring the equation back to zero and keep justice balanced. The use of the present as a means to justify the past is nothing more than a sick form of human validation. It is impossible to validate every action with reaction, and living life with hopes of future validation in mind only reflects on the selfishness of man-kind.

As Aristotle discovered in 450 B.C.E, justice should also be defined as the quest for absolute zero, but not all equations stay balanced to have a product of zero. This has to be especially true when it comes to equations involving so many human variables, because each person’s equation would have to be balanced between all of their actions and appropriate reactions. Inevitably some people have a positive justice balance and some have a negative justice balance, but these unbalances cannot be rectified while still maintaining justice for all others. It is clear that there is no perfect balance in human justice and realistically there never can be (Aristotle 741).

If someone takes by performing a negative action, an equal amount of negative reaction should be directed their way to bring balance. If someone gives by their positive action, than they should be rewarded by an equal amount of positive reaction, but his is quite obviously impossible to perfect in every situation.

Why does man strive so tirelessly for such an unattainable goal? Some would say that an attempt of justice is better than complete injustice, but the very term justice is an absolute term which cannot be compromised lest it loses all meaning. Many people are dealt a negative justice balance and yet can go on to be perfectly happy. Many people can also get more than they deserve yet suffer from depression their entire lives. Obviously there are outside factors governing their outlook on life, and if some people can see past the injustice they are dealt, why can’t all? It is very evident that things other than justice impact our lives in a much bigger way.

It is the quest for such a concept as justice that binds people to its rules and downfalls, by trying so hard to bring the balance a person can trap their mind into needing that balance which only perpetuates the imperfect system.

Justice also has some morality issues as seen in Plato’s Republic. To consider this it is necessary to define the term “just”. The truly just person gives what he expects to get, and takes what he expects to have taken from him. This means someone that takes could be considered just, and in light of this it could be said that a just person is one who exercises all given freedoms with knowledge of the rewards or consequences. This would imply that justice is also a system of fair trades, but then who is to give out the penalties or rewards?  In this system of rewards and penalties, to keep balance those in charge of dealing the rewards and penalties would be changing their own balance simply by attempting to restore someone else’s balance. This would mean that keeping justice would go beyond the simple idea of the “just” being charged with keeping the balance for the “unjust” (Plato 1). For true justice, the person who is wronged would be expected to bring the balance back by dealing the punishment, but this then begins to sound like revenge, not justice. To prevent this, it should be expected that the taker takes of himself to restore justice. This would bring about a whole new level of understanding and responsibility for the actions people take, but this then begins to sound like the honor system, and humans historically cannot be expected to self monitor and self punish.

After viewing these descriptions and facets of conceptual justice, it is now possible to draw some conclusions. Justice is a grand plan that is and will remain impossible to implement in its entirety. Justice is a delusional that we protect and live our lives by. Justice is an absolute term, and by compromising for half of it we are actually subscribing to injustice. True utopian justice is a concept we will never attain, and mankind must not be allowed to further taint its existence by enabling injustice to live; by contrast it is justice that must be abolished.

It is only through relativity that we can truly end injustice, because without the perceptual good of the supposed “just” there can be no relational bad of the “unjust”. It is without the perception of good and evil that mankind can be allowed to return to more natural means and simpler achievements in life.

Works Cited

Aristotle, and C. C. W. Taylor. Nicomachean Ethics. Oxford: Clarendon, 2006. Print.

Plato, and Elizabeth Watson. Scharffenberger. Republic. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2004. Print.

Tropical Delusions

The morning sun glitters in through my window illuminating my room, and waking me from my dreamy sleep. Distant memories of a nightmare about being stranded on some destitute island linger in my mind, but as I get out of bed the feeling fades. I fall into my usual routine, getting dressed and cleaned up enough to go out into the world. It’s just another ordinary day in my ordinary life.

Feeling hungry I decide to head down to the gas station to pick up some morning snacks. As I enter the gas station it feels like something is out of place, as if people don’t see me or don’t want to see me. I pay no attention and proceed to pick out some snacks and a drink. I take my selections to the counter to pay. A cashier stands behind the counter staring blankly into space, showing his hate for his position in life. As I stand in front of him expecting him to move and start ringing up my items, he continues staring as if deep in thought. After a few moments of silence I ask, “Is everything ok?” I receive no response as he continues to stare. He does not hear me or does not care to hear me. I ask again in a louder voice, “Is everything ok?” Still no response, he stares right through me as if I’m a ghost. Something deep and powerful obviously troubles this man today, so I reluctantly decide to skip my morning snacks and give the man some peace. Feeling hungrier than before and a little annoyed, I leave my items on the counter and head out of the gas station.

When I leave the gas station, I decide to walk over to the fish store to see some familiar faces. Walking in I expect the usual greeting from the workers, but to my surprise I am once again greeted by blank stares as if I’m not here. I am a very loyal customer here and know many of the employees well. I try talking to one I am usually very friendly with, but he does not even turn around. This overwhelming sense of déjà vu from the gas station comes over me. What is happening here? Everywhere I go it seems I am socially isolated from the people around me. Feeling rejected and cut off I start to wonder, am I dreaming?

I begin to feel the hunger of this morning again and decide to go sit down at a restaurant to eat some food. I stroll in the front door and wait to be seated as the sign indicates. I am not surprised at this point to find myself yet again ignored completely. The hostess walks right past me as if I don’t matter. Other people sit, eating their meals and conversing like normal. How I long for a simple conversation.

Why is this happening to me? This must be my fault; I must have done something to deserve this. I struggle to figure out what I could have possibly done to get this type of treatment. I consider whether or not I am dreaming or even dead. This cannot be real. It feels as if I am a lonely island surrounded by a sea of people passing by, but not stopping to care.

Nothing helps to numb my feelings of rejection. It feels as if the entire world has turned against me, and I don’t even know why. Depression overwhelms me as I develop a sense of self-hate. I hate the world that casts me out, and I hate myself for causing this. My mind digs even deeper. Strange thoughts creep into my head, and as I agonize over my situation, I begin to wonder if I’ve gone crazy. Just thinking about my sanity seems to make my mind even more clouded and unsure. It feels like a thousand people are all screaming at once in my head trying to get attention, but all overpowered by each other. I can’t separate out the voices which only makes me feel even surer that I’m going crazy

I have to keep moving. It’s time for school, and deep down I hope people will notice my existence there. I stroll through the halls on my way to my English class, not attempting to talk to anyone. I’m not much for socializing at school, so lack of contact in the halls feels normal. I begin to feel a little better as I relax into my chair in class. Class begins and the teacher goes into his normal routine lecturing on things such as adjectives, nouns, verbs and other exhausting parts of speech.

As we near the end of class, my courage piques as I wonder if I will be ignored as I have been since this morning. As the teacher walks by, I lean back in my chair and ask him a question. I receive no reply. Standing up I voice my question even louder hoping to catch his attention. I get no acknowledgement of my existence whatsoever. Overwhelmed with rage, I sprint across the room and yell right in his face, “Acknowledge me!” I still get no response of any kind. I storm out of the room feeling rejected and cut off from the world. It’s hopeless. I can’t go on living cut off from the world. The tears stream down my face as I run through the halls towards the exit. I burst out of the doors and run across the parking lot to the road. It’s time to end this lonely misery. I will make people notice me even if it’s by my death. I may be isolated in this world, but perhaps in the next I will find my place. As headlights on the road draw nearer, I close my eyes and step into the road. The impact happens so fast I feel nothing but relief, happiness and warmth.

Everything feels so calm now. A nice warm, soothing breeze dances over my skin as I stand there. I slowly open my eyes and blinding, white light floods in. As my eyes adjust, I start to recognize the scene in front of me. It’s my dream from this morning. There I stand on a long, white beach bathed in the tropical sun. Beautiful, blue water laps at the beach in a rhythmic motion, and lush, green trees line the top of the beach with fruit and coconuts hanging and swaying in the warm breeze. How could I be back in my dream? I should be dead, not sleeping. Maybe I’m in a coma, or maybe I am dead and in heaven. No matter where I am, I am happy to be here instead of in that isolated, hell of a life I escaped from.

Trying to figure out where I am and why, fades out of my thoughts and I realize I’m in paradise! I take off in a full-blown sprint down the beach, splashing in the salty surf as I go. Ocean waves splash up onto the hot sand cooling my feet as I go. I’m so overwhelmed by the beauty of this place, that I forget my worries and play in the ocean for hours. As the day wears on I start to tire and fall to a seat on the soft sand. I gaze off into the distance, watching dolphins play gleefully in the waves. As I scan the horizon, I notice a small outcropping of rocks a few hundred feet off shore. Something seems so familiar about these rocks. Looking closer I notice what looks like the wreckage of a boat. A sinking feeling starts to creep into my stomach, as I examine the tattered remains of sails and wooden hull.

Memories rush in of a sailing adventure.  Memories of my lone trek across the ocean and of my ship wreck leaving me stranded on this island. Suddenly it’s all so clear. I’ve been here for three months now, and I’m never getting off this god-forsaken island. My delusions led me far away from this island, but the desperate feelings of isolation were reality the whole time.

To Hell and Back

My marriage is, for the most part, a happy one. Like everyone we have our struggles and trials, but always make it through. Life consists of my wife, son and me living in a nice little house, in a nice little town. Jobs are not a problem, and I enjoy working as a shop manager for a small custom furniture company. Money isn’t much of an issue either, because pay is good and business is booming. Days, weeks, months and years seem to pass effortlessly with the happiness family brings me, but disaster always strikes when the world has lulled a person into a sense of comfort and security.

The biggest shock of my life is the day I realize I’m heading into a divorce. Like a train barreling straight toward me, the words tumble out of her mouth: “We need to talk…” I know where the conversation is headed and stumble out of the house in a daze. Big losses always come in threes for my family, so naturally the loss of my job and house follow. Though I don’t know it at the time, my gut-wrenching decent into hell has only begun.

A bad marriage can keep you from experiencing a lot of new, exciting things, and at the start of my new-found single life there is an amazing sense of independence. All the decisions are mine to make, and I relish every second of making them. Naturally, I realize I can date again and promptly jump into a no-strings relationship with a married woman. This makes me feel more animated than I have in years and brings to light what it feels like to be in a truly passionate relationship. I put forth my best efforts to deny any emotional connection as the strings fall away, but as the emotional scars from my past marriage are torn open I realize I was foolish in thinking you cannot break a heart that’s already broken. I find myself even more lost, but have to move forward into a world I’m just starting to discover.

Christmas Eve is a very lonely time for many people, and this year I am in that group. The loss and confusion of a recent relationship is weighing heavily on my thoughts making it hard to see any hope in the world. Feeling abandoned and alone I decide to wander off into a bad neighborhood, in a bad town, to paint where no one should. I trek through the snow alone in the blistering cold, suffering from a bronchial infection that makes every breath of the frigid night air feel like small, razor sharp crystals shredding my already fragile lungs. The physical pain seems dull in comparison to the internal pain, so I push on through the snow and ice undaunted. As I near my destination distant yells cut through the wind. Then I hear the patter of running footsteps through the slushy streets. I whirl around expecting law enforcement and a trip to a warm cell for the night only to find angry fists flying. Breathing becomes even more strained as I fight my assailant off and sprint to my car. “What the hell was that?” I ask myself, trying to make sense of the seemingly random attack. Shaken and frozen to the core I manage to slow my breathing and stop coughing long enough to get myself home.

Drinking becomes paramount, and days begin to blur together like an abstract mural. States away, during a lonely night of chemically enhanced intoxication, I find myself passenger to a less than savvy, at the time, driver. The high-pitched whine of two cars scraping together rings in my ears as we slow to a stop. More yelling and sounds of running feet against pavement find my ears. My driver is quick to escape, and we tear down the road in a panic-induced burst of speed. A few more miles swerved down the endless highways finds us face to face again with our angry assailant.  No footsteps pounding against the pavement this time, but cars blocking our path of escape. Confused by his sudden appearance I try to reason with the man, but he’s not in a forgiving mood. “I hope you have a lot of cash on you!” threatens the furious man. The world seems to jump as if moved by an earthquake, and as quickly as the angry man appeared he is nowhere to be found. The world blurs into an unrecognizable collage of light and colors as we rocket over a curb and blast yet again, running street signals as we go, into the night. I relax into my seat when we are safely hidden, and the world drifts away.

My need for external gratification grows. I awaken the next night to thrust myself into a world of fantasy and unknown joy. Lights dance and refract, as if putting on a show exclusively for my eyes. Kanye West booms on the radio, “Flash, lights lights lights…”  Bars, clubs, video games and exotic dancers blur together like a benign teenage dream. Is this heaven? Nothing seems real anymore, but everything feels so right. Waking the next day, I am engulfed in a headache that seems just punishment for the nights before. I struggle to remember the events of the prior night but find only distant memories of a fantastic dream that tempt me to live or die another night.

Back home, not back to reality, news of my grandmother’s death rocks the family. Though consumed by depression and anger, I agree to provide the funeral service with a slide show. The images flood back in like a tidal wave filling my mind with memories of past times. As I re-live memories of better times, my mind begins to fill with dark clouds. Rain breaks as I hear of my grandfather’s failing health. As he lies in a hospital bed, states away, awaiting death, my ex-wife begins to weave her web of deception. Using our son as a tool in her plot for some unknown gain, she prevents me from flying to my grandfather’s side. She hasn’t been living in a hole since our separation, and she too has experienced new things and learned new tricks. As I sit in bed alone, devastated, and ease the pain the only way I know how, I finally understand why we should never be friends.

Years seem to pass in minutes, and my need for external gratification grows day by day. My closest friends seem to be the only people around to hear me, but like me, they’re no picture of mental health. We cling to each other like a family group in a hurricane looking to each other for support and help. Our small family group is devastated when my close friend of ten years decides his only way out is to end it all. Not knowing where else to turn, we admit him to a mental health facility for help. Everything rushes at me like a nightmare as I leave him under the watchful eyes and care of the nurses. My new-found grief compels me to slip into a series of hallucinogenic dreams. Days seem to pass as I slip in and out of reality. Visions of Jesus, the Devil and unknown demons invade my waking dreams, as I search for answers to the problems at hand. Through this I form an unbreakable bond and plan of action with friends. I think to myself that everything will be better when I wake up.

My eyes open, and slowly, reality comes flooding back in. Hopelessness sets in, as I realize the bonds and plans of the night before have faded away. The pieces don’t seem to fit together in my mind, but I have to keep trying. My senses are numb and my mind is a chaotic war zone, but everything becomes secondary as I enter the mental hospital for visitation time. Cold, sterile and calculated, the hospital feels like a place people get put and forgotten. Friends and I sit drinking orange juice, eating something that tastes like cardboard and view the fish tank that I can only guess keeps the crazies calm. We make small talk and joke as if nothing is wrong, though I can see the terror in everyone’s eyes. Could this be the end of our friendship? Doctors usher us into what feels like the last-chance room: a small room full of chairs that feels colder still. Attempting to forget this awful place, I drink more orange juice. We are overwhelmed with opinions, options, advice and tools for successfully bringing my best friend back to Earth. As I listen to the flood of information I think about the night before and wonder if I’m the one who should be in here. The doctor concludes and we leave the last-chance room; it feels like there’s some hope for the future.

The days and nights keep rolling by, filled with every type of fake happiness I can find. My un-ending drinking binge is interrupted only by the endless search for company. I date different women every night, but they all seem so boring and incompatible. Rejection and boredom begins to pile up, so I soon give up my search for company and decide I’m destined to walk this path alone.

As I drown in whiskey and beer, the world begins to get foggy. All that matters is how fast I can get back to a happy place when I wake up each day. Friends begin to drop out of existence in my world as I go deeper into my waking fantasies and hallucinogenic dreams. Nothing much matters anymore other than my constant search for happiness.

Most structures can stand against a barrage of forces as long as the foundation remains intact. I am one such structure and survived a long barrage until one of my best friends decided I was beyond hope.  She has had enough of my ways, enough of my lifestyle and is tired of being dragged down by my search for gratification. This is not punishment for me, but the push I need. She was a part of my foundation and without her I had no choice but to rebuild from the ground up.

As if waking up from a coma, I start to see where I have been and what I have done. My mind slows back to normal. I realize it has only been two months since those fateful words, “We need to talk…” Since that day I’ve done dangerous things, illegal things and hurt most of the people I care about, yet none of it made me feel any better. I have truly been to hell and back. As I think back on where I started and where my quest for external happiness has taken me, I understand the only truth in the world. Happiness comes from within. You cannot manufacture it, or find it, you have to look inside yourself and believe it.