Tuesday, September 11, 2018

We've Come A Mighty Long Way: An Open Letter To Julian Assange

To a fellow truth seeker and soul friend,

You've been on my mind a lot the last few months. Not long after your communications were cut off at the Embassy in London, you appeared in a dream that still lingers in my consciousness. There are only certain people in my life that I choose to discuss or analyze dreams with, but this dream -- like so many waking ones -- have whittled certain people out of my life.

That's alright. The few I can name are the best I could hope to call friends in this lifetime. I've come to appreciate quality over quantity.

I tell people that I am a recovering media analyst in the bearing witness protection program. I admit to myself that I've fallen off that wagon -- if I was ever on it. I've become increasingly reflective about this lately because I know you did not have a choice in the matter. People can choose to be silent for many reasons, but even the silent would not choose to lose their voice.

Those who cannot speak, the most vulnerable -- need us to speak now more than ever.

I think you'd agree that the ability to make our own choices is the very nature of freedom. To choose a path, a belief, a career -- even a book, or a newspaper -- the smallest choices we make in a moment may not be seen as good or bad until consequences, if any, arrive. I understand fully the consequences of your choices and I thank you for making the right ones in spite of them.

Choices I have made are much different, somewhat parallel but nonetheless isolating. It can be challenging to find our courage in an ocean of conformity. I've always respected your journalistic integrity, tenacity, and commitment to exposing the truth. I especially admire your uncompromising stance on protection of sources. I'm frankly appalled at treatment by others claiming to be anywhere near the same arena, who've never raised the bar as high and are now content to lower it.

I've learned this is a thankless position and audiences can be fickle...as mounting partisan evidence suggests. But there is something greater in taking a principled stance that keeps us going. A purpose or calling to something larger than ourselves.

Maybe it is because of my mercurial Gemini nature, but I've always been a sponge for information. I soaked up a lot in the last eight years and a lot of it was entirely too heavy to bear. Researching the BP oil disaster led me to the work of my late mentor and friend, Michael C. Ruppert, whose work continues to be prescient on many levels. I still find things he wrote that amaze me as I work on updating his source archives for posterity.

Mike's personal insights taught me more valuable lessons about denial and certain hard truths. The hardest one for me was learning the people I considered close, didn't much care about truth, like the way some people just don't care for music. As if truth and art were poor choices on a fast-food menu. I can't decide if it is ennui or nihilism but I find it tragic for any person, let alone a country that claims to be a vibrant, functioning democracy to have this attitude about the world.

Yet Mike knew as well as you and I do that this isn't solely the fault of the people. Yes, there is personal responsibility to be taken in a democratic society but propaganda media is to blame for much of the mess inherited. During Occupy, we dared to speak against it. We dared to share alternative views. You dared greater still, knowing the risks. Mike did, too. Like the time he confronted CIA Director John Deutch about the CIA and LAPD running drugs in south central LA.

That was epic. But I don't think people realize how great the risks have been for many others before now.  I do feel a shift happening and I believe it is because of your good work. It is both powerful and palpable.

I didn't realize how far this country could fall after 9/11, even after Hunter S. Thompson's interview a month after the attacks. Listening to it now is eerily foreboding. Perhaps that was my own failure of imagination...a step too close to a deep rabbit hole. We were all afraid after that day, and for years after we couldn't really name what we feared. I recognized the decay slowly happening over time; how civics began to be less important to people compared to identity, or compared to success at all costs; compared to consumption and comfort at all costs. Hello debt slavery. Never mind those rights.

Making people uncomfortable has become more dangerous, too, as if words had become sticks and stones. We desperately need another wave of punk rock to shake up the consumer culture. The Buddha warned about making comfort a permanent guest. As a consequence, the truth will shock many right out of their easy chairs...not unlike the way Mike's work shoved me down a rabbit hole I'd avoided. The Buddha also said that what we resist, persists. The truth is certainly persistent.

I was reading Mike's book when I first learned of Wikileaks. Recognizing how important its work would be from the start, my then roommate and I downloaded as much of Chelsea's leaked material on Iraq as we could. We burned it to discs. We gave them away. We even hid them in random books in our local library. There was no turning away after those revelations. I could hardly wait to see future publications.

"Thank you" seems utterly anemic. Brother, it's been a hell of a ride. It certainly shows no signs stopping, so I do hope everyone is buckled up for the next go-round.

In a sea of ingrates, I am grateful. I am sorry you are experiencing such discomfort. It seems to be an unintended consequence for those who seek and share hard truths. It's an unmasking of not just what we call 'shadow government' but forces us to also acknowledge our own shadow. This is a very painful thing for people whose comfortable bubbles burst. It's been all too easy for the western mind to fall prey to plastic gurus, quick-fix pharma, techno-narcissism and navel-gazing. In all our self-searching, people have forgotten a basic lesson: the ability to imagine walking in another person's shoes. The horrible things happening in this world could be viewed as a collective failure of imagination. Without that we become distracted from real compassion, empathy, and faith in humankind to do the right thing in the midst of so much suffering. Even when many are doing the right thing, collective failure of imagination causes people to turn away, causing more harm.

I've just described the wheel of Samsara. [Or Uncle Samsara, as the case may be.]

Photo: "So You Say Her Name Was Alice?" | Gio McClusky
In the spirit of imagination, I'd like to tell you about my dream. It was Carl Jung who spent much of his life studying the importance of the psyche's unconscious messages. They can be incredibly revealing, especially during times of great upheaval. I'd say this moment certainly qualifies.

It began with me climbing the side of a building in a dark alleyway. I didn't know what city I was in, only that it was dark, damp and unforgiving. A light from a window above shone brightly out of the darkness and I was climbing up a lattice on the wall to get to it. It felt imperative to get there.

It seemed to take forever to reach top of the ledge where a small patio appeared. The large window just above the railing had white curtains, barely containing the light shining inside. Without a thought for decorum, I grabbed hold of the window's edge and slid it open. One of the curtains caught on a breeze, spilling it into the room like a loose sail. I climbed into the room.

There were people sitting in chairs to my right but my eyes were still adjusting to the brightness. My gaze was drawn first to the open door of an adjacent room. The interior was dark. I could not see who was there but I could hear them. Faceless people nervously whispering to one another in the shadows, both in mocking and lamenting tones about the room full of light. I turned back to see who was in the bright room. It dawned on me that I hadn't been stopped for entering through the window.

As my eyes adjusted, I saw there were people of many colors, from many places. All were smiling, shaking hands and talking jovially as if waiting for some event to begin. The room's interior was filled from light that came from above but it was too bright to look into directly. It filled the room with a healthy, natural glow of a sunrise or sunset. The cheerful people looked familiar but also nebulous; the way some faces in a dream tend to change fluidly. There were teachers, scientists, politicians and others were faith leaders. I saw a woman wearing striking colors, who I thought was Vandana Shiva. I approached with hopes of speaking with her.

She couldn't see me. I realized that I could see everyone in this room but no one in this room could see me. I was a mere observer and not a participant.

Slightly defeated, I was unsure where to go or what to do next. Feeling as one might when standing at a crossroads, I turned to look at the shadowy room full of judgmental whispers and back again toward the open window into the unforgiving dark. That's when I saw you.

A man with silver hair seated in a chair next to the bellowing curtains was watching the entire scene. I recognized your bearded face when you turned my way. You could see me. With a warm smile, you gestured to an empty seat next to you and winked knowingly. 

That's when I woke up.

Perhaps this dream was an invitation to sit quietly and observe. I don't know. I do know that I can no longer trust most of what I used to call journalism. I'm not alone in that. Those who trust their gut understand that this country has to wake up soon. I sincerely hope your sacrifice in exposing hard truths will bring about that much needed awakening of imagination. It will not be as pretty as the room in my dream, but it is past time to throw open the windows and shed light into dark places.

The dream also reminded me that in the darkest times, we must often supply our own light.

Thank you, my friend, for showing this country that we have choices other than the false ones we've been handed: 'it's the cards you're dealt' or 'that's just how things are'. I've never believed any of that nonsense. It leaves out unexplored possibilities. The kinds of possibilities that the powerful and corrupt would never allow. I've always held dear the words Mike used in his book, "Miracles can happen without our permission." I imagine miracles are human beings...who believe in possibilities.

I pray the right choices are made for your healthy, safe return to beloveds and the place you call home. Every day I try to raise awareness in hope that others are moved to demand nothing less than your safe passage to freedom.

Hunter Thompson said, "Freedom is something that dies unless it is used." You've sacrificed much to remind us that we ultimately have a choice and a stake in this pivotal moment of our shared history. Freedom of speech is not something I view as a choice, but rather a keystone to human rights. There is a reason it is the First Amendment. Take away the keystone and how does one define a demand? What is a petition? A plea? A redress of grievance? We must all use our free speech or lose it to the dark, whispering cowards that mock and fear collective enlightenment.

Here's to your health, to your freedom, and to history books that will record the end of dark days when freedom and imagination were taken for granted. May we never see those failures repeated. There's a mighty long way to go but I have faith in possibilities. We can get there with the friends who were always on the right side of history and always in our corner, saving us a seat.

Love and light to you, Julian.
[And the other cat in the smart tie]
Your friend ~ Gabrielle
Keep fighting ;) 


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