#WAR: WHOM TO BLAME

Articles, Essays, Non-Fiction

By: Steven Underwood

In Columbus, there is a military stand at every College fair, at every job fair. Across the street, you hear about a Miss, or Mister whom has their homes and bills paid for by a noble son or daughter in the military. Advisors make suggestions to the middling student on how to afford college; athletes without the intellect to propel themselves academically into the D1 get a brochure for adventure.

Nothing talks about the pain and anguish that will be inflicted by them onto people whom look just like them.

The military is a billion-dollar enterprise and puppet of American greed. They swoop into foreign nations and flush them with violence and anguish until there is little to nothing that can save them from the monsters they eventually become after the are forced into the uniform and after they are forced out.

Image result for Army Recruitment

This is not to say there is no choice, but when the questionnaire is: A. You avoid the military and watch your family become swallowed by the persisting hopelessness of the city; B. Become consumed in the drug enterprise that is glamourized despite its entire market hinging on the poisoning of black and brown people (much like what they would be doing in the military) and risking the prison system; or C. Conforming to an organization that turns you into a weapon of people who are your enemy and promising a Hero’s journey in service of the government that has never protected them, you see that there is no choice at all. Any free will, makes you culpable in the downward spiral of your entire generation.

Recently, many leftist digital personalities have taken to bashing and wishing the extreme misfortunes of death, depravity and karma upon the poor. Some people are justifiably upset, victimized by the enterprises that have a stranglehold on the poor and exploits their economic disadvantages to harm everyone they’ve ever known. Others simply talk from a pedestal too high for them to see their own culpability in these military transgressions: how they’re upper-middle class suburban lives have swallowed programs, advantages and aid that the communities adjacent to them have starved without. I’ve seen these people every year in high school: they cross from the other side of the tracks – often for drugs – and dabble with the dark side.

Whatever the case is, I never think it’s a solution to focus on the mutual destruction of the lower class. That’s not very socialist, and therefore, that is not to the benefit of a disadvantaged group here, or across the seas. I won’t get into the arguments on compliance and force. I won’t get into the rhetoric of blame and target. Instead, I will get into the rhetoric of fact.

Fact: the Government chooses to fund the military over education and social reform programs.

Fact: the Government chooses to strategically place these programs and organizations that place the military pipeline between high school and economic liberty and expect its vacuum not to suck in the gullible naivety of 18 year olds.

Fact: the Government targets locations high in poverty, high in resources and high in such profound cultural dichotomies and western media propaganda over the last two decades that these exploited children can barely recognize if they will be battling people, or terrorists.

Image result for Ta Nehisi Coates Obama

In all honesty, I can admit that I have some culpability in turning a blind eye to the actions of the government and the exploitation of the poor in the military (Much like Ta-nahesis Coates, I do harbor a bias to Barrack Obama the person, and distinguish him as separate from Obama, the President). And I do blame some of these children – the young who enter the military to become hometown heroes, or to champion the imperialistic powers of the West; the middling students who refused to even attempt the other way out that didn’t include the pain of another: the people who knew they would be hurting others for their own wealth. (I may have subscribed to the institutional scam of Accademia, but I never picked up a gun in the name of the West). However, what I always do is encourage that focusing of power at destroying the root of an evil.

The root I so clearly sense is a government that is still stuck in the exploitation of others to create this construct of power that is incapable of being shared, without the poisoning of its lower half and the halves it cannot directly influence without anguish.

In all, toy soldiers execute a plan that a larger hand positions them to perform. Microcosmic actions always begin at the macro, as per the human constructs we subscribed to.

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#LOOKS: STEVE, HEIR OF SLYTHERIN

Fashion

By: Steven Underwood

Crappy Camera quality and grimaces are all a part of College Life.

I guess it started with a comment. Sorted into Hufflepuff with the release of the Pottermore test, I’ve always expected to get the normal flack most people throw:

Ha ha, you’re in the useless house!

Aren’t you guys, like, the “special” case wizards? Like the high needs student organization on campus?

I never expected the sideway glance of everyone and the astonished confusion in a: “Huh, you should retake the test, you’re clearly a Slytherin 🐍”

I wanted to be insulted, but they’re right. From my attention to cunning, ambition, viciousness and abandon to collateral damage in my pursuit of Honesty, I do evoke the very visage of a Slytherin. Since then, I’ve noticed my clothing choices have swung away from a neutral Fall coordination and right into an provocative inclusion of sharper colors of agile and ferocity: of Emeralds and Teals. Specifically, my interview attire (seen below) is something that channels the cut throat calmness of a Lawyer: an energy that says murder isn’t something i like or dislike, just something I have to do on Tuesdays

Maybe I should retake that test, and just accept the tact my compassion might be dwindling as I age.

Thick Dad Bod, But Make It Fashion — Slytherin.

Featured Look: Thrift Store Find (Gap Vest); Amazon (Allegra K Men Long Turtle Neck – Black); ASOS Pork Pie in Forest Green

Backseat Driver

Art, Essays, Non-Fiction

By: Steven Underwood

Names have been censored to protect people, identities, and relationships

Some Men have these rides with one another that isn’t very fun, it’s always very hurtful, and it’s about doing your best to destroy the person closest to you, at the benefit of rising among a hierarchy that ultimately might not matter.

I participated in this while still in high school, and to this day I can’t imagine why. We were driving in the car up Demorest Road, a long street that connects you to the most important places in Columbus, Ohio. I’m in the back seat – neither my choice, nor the first time this weekend. See, this place – the back seat– is the most toxic environment in my circle. It’s where you’re forgotten and ignored and relatively useless to the overall direction of the evening. It’s where it’s whispered: “You should honestly just be happy we invited you, several of us didn’t want to.”

It’s a place I really should not have been, because the person driving the car was my best friend, B.

There is an unspoken truth to it: every man might have a circle, but every man also has a right hand. The dynamic between the two isn’t always equal – hell, the strongest side at the moment might even realize this, and will take advantage: hoping to keep the power on their side, lest they lose something important to their character. Yet, there is an agreement between the two: you will take care of your right hand, and your right hand will take care of you.

And still, I was in the back seat, and not by any insignificant act. I knew I was put there. I knew I had done something wrong in the eyes of the highest order of the hierarchy, and this was a punishment. Maybe in some group chat they were laughing at me; I already knew that in some conversations they were: I knew because I was told about it every time, and if I got upset, It would probably happen again, this time around someone I liked, next time maybe around people who could potentially like me. This was the rule of the hierarchy, because to them I didn’t bring anything to the table and I had no point to me outside of my relative loyalty.

B and I, lock eyes in his rear-view mirror. It’s for a moment, but I still see him smirk as he accelerates up the road. I try to figure out what I did wrong exactly, but I’m clueless. The car keeps moving, and I’m interrupted by a ringtone.

It’s another friend, a good friend. Someone more loyal than we deserve, and stronger than most of us gave credit too.

B quickly takes him off speaker for the conversation. I want to tell him to get off the phone. I don’t: we don’t die this time.

Our friend’s voice is stronger than the silence in the car without the music or the radio. “What are yall doing tonight?”

It’s very obvious: we’re going to eat, and going to a movie, likely to see our other friends – a crowd of girls who either have dated, will date or thought of dating every member of our circle.

B does that thing he does before he lies, before he convinces himself he is lying for everyone else’s benefit – that he is being selfless, instead of selfish. He smiles. Not a true, full smile, no, he shows his teeth and cocks the ends of his grin, like he is caught in a hesitant laugh. “Nothing. We just staying at my house tonight, for real, for real. Nah, it’s gonna be boring and my folks don’t want anybody else here. Talk to you, later.”

He hangs up the phone.

Noone laughs at M, but there is an energy of humor between all of them. I don’t feel it. I’m not in on the joke, because I’m observing and analyzing, and I feel more outside of the group, more outcast than the times I was the one on the otherside of the phone, hearing them lie to me and convincing myself I actually did not just get ditched, during a time I really needed the people who accepted the mantle of friend.

The Truth, like the sun, can never stay in the dark for too long before it rises. It elevated off my tongue and between my lips before I realize I had been with child my own ruin.

“Why did you just lie to him?”

The energy of humor dissipates, and suddenly I realize there are worse things to being outside of the joke. It’s being outside of the circle. They turn on me, quickly.

“I ain’t got the room in my car for him, Steven.”

It was odd to hear my whole name coming from him. I’ve long since learned to measure familiarity with how people use my name. When I’m good, useful and loved, I’m Steve. When I’m boring, broodish and antagonistic, I’m Steven. Coming from a friend, it shatters. After all, there’s so much difference in a letter when it’s said by someone you love.

I remain quiet the entire ride.

The next weekend, after a long week of classes and lunch room laughter, I find myself at home again. I call my friends, and conveniently, they’re all over our mutual friend, S’s house. They’re not doing anything tonight, and hang up the phone.

I open my phone and check the social media trifecta: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. On all three, I see the streetlights and stop signs behind a window. Someone else is in the backseat.

And despite the clear excuses your consciousness plucks from the river denial, you find yourself so sad you’re drowning in self-doubt and contempt.

There’s thoughts swirling about you that are dangerous to think and you’re stranded, alone. “Have I ever meant something to someone? Or has ever moment of care just been another rush to get me out of their hair?”

Men have this way of ostracizing each other worse than any other toxic environment because we often root ourselves in the domination of other creatures. For this reason, they build hierarchies. We compete with one another to rise in them. No one can be equal, and there’s always someone to be beaten or left out.

If you’re a B, you’re at the top because you learned to make yourself the top: by choosing people who live to love and love to nurture, and bleeding out the compassion from them until you’re floating in it.

We claim a bond between brothers is the purest form of love to exist next to that between a mother and child. That’s a lie. It’s maybe the most vindictive of relationships. The few times I’ve seen my friends cry, they followed up their behavior with decisions that derives on cruelty. Often, we know the things we do to each other, as men, are horrible, because we know we love each other; we know that if we lost the other person, it’d be a pain we couldn’t speak on; we know that romantic love isn’t sometimes the strongest love we can feel, because going forever without a girlfriend is reasonable, but going forever without the person who loved you despite never having to need you for anything is unrealistic.

And yet, men put each other, and our love for one another, into the backseat.