UFC fight for the troops
The UFC had a special night this past week where we put on a fight card for the soldiers of Ft. Bragg. The entire night was to highlight traumatic brain injuries and to raise money for the intrepid fallen heroes fund. They’re trying to raise enough money to build a state of the art treatment center for all of these soldiers that are coming back with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Apparently, because technology has improved and they’ve created better armor, more soldiers are surviving, but they’re coming home alive but with severe brain injuries. How many? Well that’s where it just gets fucking crazy, according to a recent Rand Corporation report 19% of returning service members report that they experienced a possible traumatic brain injury while 20% of them report having major depression or post traumatic stress disorder.
Those are some fucking incredible numbers. 20% is something like 300,000 people, and that’s on top of the thousands that have died. The size of the tragedy is almost unimaginable.
The UFC put on the fights so that the only tickets available were given out only to military personal, and they had over 10,000 people wearing camouflage UFC shirts packed into the arena for the event.
We’ve done two of these shows for military bases now, and the crowds are on a whole different level. The level of appreciation is through the fucking roof, and the sense of unity in the crowd is insane. You can feel it. It’s like we we’re putting on a UFC for a giant 10,000-member family. When they played the national anthem, I got fucking goose bumps all the way up to the back of my neck.
When the dude was singing, the level of respect was so thick in the room that I had to film it to try to capture something of the moment. The crowd responded to it with an unmistakable and unique passion. A passion that comes from a true modern day war tribe that has lost members of its family.
They’ve had friends and lovers ripped forever from this existence, all volunteers, poorly compensated, all under the premise to defend a thing called “Freedom” and defeat a thing called “Terror” in a battle so confusing that the media isn’t even allowed to take photos of the flag draped coffins.
I could feel the sense of loss, the pride, the camaraderie, the confusion, the conviction – it was all together, alive in the air.
I could feel that I was truly in the presence of an army in the middle of a long, drawn out war singing their battle cry.
The feeling in the air – I could have just as easily been in a large hall full of soldiers from the middle ages, singing their songs by a fire before they set out in the morning to fight off the hoards of barbarians.
The true, unmistakable pride of an army.
When that dude hit, “In the land of the freeeeee… and the home, of the… Braaaaaaaaaaave!” I could feel my fucking skin tingle.
It was for me the most moving experience of hearing the national anthem by far.
During the Spike TV broadcast they showed profiles of victims of traumatic brain injuries. They were these heart wrenching pieces on these soldiers that came back injured and will never be the same ever again. They showed guys that had giant hunks blown out of their heads.
They showed their families, they showed them struggle to talk and think – it was incredibly heart breaking. Someone’s son, someone’s baby boy – and they’ll never be the same again. I cried during two of them. I just couldn’t help it.
Seeing the pain and the anguish in the faces of the families was just unimaginably sad. I just couldn’t even conceive of what they’re going through.
When you stop and think how fucked up it is that they have to put up a website and do a show to get public donations to set up a center to treat people like this while the government is bailing out financial institutions left and right it just boggles the mind. I mean, shouldn’t that be one of the first things we as a society are taking care of?
I mean, if we’re really operating under the premise that these young soldiers are over there protecting us, shouldn’t we be taking the best care of them possible?
Every day in the news we’re talking about the economy, which is certainly a huge fucking problem in this country, but goddamn, isn’t 300,000 fucked up young people just as big, if not a bigger issue?
And it’s an issue doesn’t get nearly the same amount of attention.
It’s really hard to believe how fucked up our priorities are when it comes to how we take care of the wounded soldiers.
This war wasn’t my idea, and it wasn’t yours, and right now I’m not even focusing on whether it’s justified or not, just the fact that someone thought it was the thing to do. That choice was made, and if that choice was made whoever made it should be responsible for the consequences, and a huge part of that is taking care of the wounded.
They’re trying to raise 60 million for this center, meanwhile the war costs 200 million every fucking day of the week. All they would have to do is pretend the war wasn’t going on for one day it would all get paid for, but I guess that’s just too convenient and logical.
These are gigantic tragedies. These are our brothers and our sisters, and there are thousands of them, and they’ll never be the same again.
We shouldn’t be in a situation where we have to take donations from the public to support a center for these people; it should be something that’s a top priority.
I got to meet a bunch of soldiers on the base, and the first thing that hit me was that most of them were just kids. They were the same guys I would see sign up for their first day of jiu jitsu class. The same guys I see in the crowd at a UFC. The same guys I could have hung out with when I was in college. Young, over running with energy and possibilities, just needing guidance and a direction, and they were all dressed for war.
Some of them told me stories about being over there. Stories of destruction and death, and they’re all coming from the mouth of a kid who seems like in a sane world would be talking about video games.
But he’s not talking about that. He’s talking about having killed people that he’d never even met in a city he can barely pronounce, halfway around the world… and he’s 19.
All the while these guys were talking we could hear artillery rounds in the background.
At first I thought the sounds were sonic booms from really fast jets, so I asked.
Proudly, one of them said, “Nah, that’s artillery, dog!”
Then he went into great depth about what that round can do to the building we’re standing right next to.
And then we hear it again, low and unmistakable in the distance – boom.
The fights that night, almost appropriately, were particularly brutal.
It was probably one of the most brutal UFC’s we’ve ever had.
There were several brutal knockouts, a vicious knees to the head beat down, a leg broken in half, and a dude that wouldn’t tap to an arm bar so he got his elbow dislocated and bent backwards – it seemed like one fight after the next was more and more brutal.
It just felt like something more than a coincidence that this was all happening for a crowd that has seen more brutality than practically anyone.
Almost like the energy of the universe was responding to the thoughts in the room.
I know that sounds like crazy, new age hippy shit, but I’m not entirely sure it’s not actually the case.
I was watching this documentary once on chimps and how they have these boundary lines for their territory, and how they’ll occasionally cross these lines on purpose to go fuck up the enemy chimps. I was watching it, and when it was over I shut off the DVD and the first thing I saw on regular TV was this crazy high tech video game-looking commercial for the US Marines. I was watching dudes doing obstacle courses with crazy explosive graphics, busting out Karate moves, staring at the camera down the blade of their polished sword – I mean it just looked fucking awesome. It was so badass that for about 1,000,000th of a second I was actually thinking about joining the Marines.
Then as the flow of synchronicity guided me I clicked on to CNN and they had this expert on talking about the war and how the enemy has figured out a better way to shoot helicopters from the sky. They were saying how they couldn’t drive because they’ve got land mines set up in the roads, and they can’t fly helicopters because the “insurgents” are shooting them out of the sky.
It’s just a more complicated version of the chimps in the jungle.
Only now we’re many steps removed from that weird aspect of nature. We keep our hands clean and send out the young people that enjoyed the commercial.
We applaud our hired killers because we want them to know that we’re really happy you decided to go do the unthinkable so that we can enjoy peace.
I try to pay attention as much as possible and read as much as possible about our government and our politics, but the system we operate under just seems like an impossible tangle of bullshit and corruption.
Almost every day there’s something new – a governor goes down for corruption, or a Senator gets caught taking bribes, or a new story comes out about missing billions in the funding of the war – and it just rolls on, and on, and on with no end in sight. One fucked up story piling on top of the next to the point where you just can’t keep track of them all. Did you forget about Gary Condit?
Yeah, I did too. I just thought of him now while I was writing this.
How about Jeff Gannon, the guy that was the ultra right wing white house reporter who was running a gay male escort service on the side? Forgot about him, didn’t you? Me too.
Remember the Jessica Lynch propaganda clusterfuck?
Mark Foley? I forgot about him too. I wonder how many kids he’s fucked since he got fired?
There’s just too many to remember them all. And they keep coming. New evidence to erode your trust and confidence being delivered to your awareness every single day, all you have to do is pay attention.
We’re being lead by people that are nothing like us.
They’re not cool, they don’t seem particularly nice, and I firmly believe – no tinfoil hat necessary – that they’re at the beck and call of gigantic corporations first, and then the will of the people second.
And it’s probably a pretty distant second.
They don’t smoke weed, they’re never funny on purpose, and they don’t mind if people die in order for them to make money.
They’re not like us, but they’re running us, and the decisions that they’re making supposedly on our behalf are fucking horrible.
That’s the situation that we’re in right now, and I think most people are just starting to realize how fucked we really are.
I keep wondering – is this how we’ll always be, or will there come a time some day when we’ve evolved past this state? Will there ever come a time when humans have evolved to the point where we no longer have this transparent shell game of leaders that are in charge of gigantic groups of people, vowing to protect them from other gigantic groups of people being wielded by other leaders? Will we ever evolve into a one-world society of people looking out for each other? Is that happening right now?
I don’t know if that’s what’s coming, but something is happening to us. Something big.
Our world is going through a change, and it’s not just the war and the financial crisis.
We’re entering some deep period of change that seems to be connected to how much information is readily available to us now because of the internet.
We’re entering into a new era of awareness and forced honesty, and some people are clawing on to the past, kicking and screaming trying to avoid that change. And right now, those are the people that have their hand on the button.
WAR IS JUST A RACKET
The following is an excerpt of a speech, delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, former Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.
“War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.
I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and in nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we’ll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns six percent over here, then it bets restless And goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.
I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to defend some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things that we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its “finger men” to point out enemies, its “muscle men” to destroy enemies, its “brain men” to plan war preparations, and a “Big Boss” – Supernationalistic Capitalism.
It may seem odd for me, a military than to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of our country’s most agile military force – the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from a Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscleman for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I suspected I was just a part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all members of the military profession, I never had an original thought until I left the service. My mental facilities remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
I helped make Mexico – especially Tampico – safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.
During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. I was rewarded with honors, medals, and promotions. Looking back on it, I feel that I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”