Discover more from TullipR - Detrans Man
And Then We Charged
An allegory of the Culture War
Disenchanted and weary of the future, we eagerly accepted the pamphlets calling for new recruits. A group to belong to, a belief system to believe in, and an invitation to fight the oppression we knew all too well. It was a kind offer to the likes of us, those weary of injustice and experts in self-destruction. We were the ideal recruits. The first rallying cries we heard resonated deeply, cementing our commitment, and with a zealous fever, we signed up without question.
Most, but not all of our families were alarmed at how easily we had given ourselves over. Some of us even felt shocked when they rightly expressed disapproval. We thought we knew better than them; we knew ourselves, and this was real. It was going to make a change for the better, not just for our own future, but for everyone's. How could they not see it?
Arrogantly, I waved off their concerns and headed straight to boot camp. The officers, impressed by my presentation, were as keen as I was to progress through the radical training program. They assured me my parents' concerns were nothing more than ill-educated, uncultured protests, and we’re simply just unfaithful believers. And that, they too were marred by pain they couldn't understand, and for all intents and purposes, to silently ignore them. So I did.
Over time, the training began to pay off. I became refined at dominating every conversation, dismantling any would-be oppressors, and in turn, bringing in new recruits and even allies. I marched with precision, my words presented as bayonets, ready to strike at any opposing force that dared come within melee range. And when that failed, I turned to fervour, a skewed sense of over-entitlement, fuelled by the rallying war cries we had become well-versed in. No one had the energy to defeat such conviction, not at the expense required at least.
The transformation was sublime. Finally, I was not only complete, but I could now recruit others. And I did. Not just new members for the growing army whose power was being felt globally, but also powerful allies with deep influence.
Proudly, I looked at what I had built in my own corner of the world. My very own regiment, as at this point, I was venerated as an elite soldier. The medals on my chest, scars on my body were proof of long hard-fought battles, which rendered an authority even within the very regime I was fighting for.
By this time, the movement had roots in every facet of society. Like a vine consuming a tree, it had wrapped itself around everything. The rise to power was something we all participated in, some more than others. But for people like myself, I led an advanced force capable of setting up independently of wider operations, sabotaging and gaining a foothold in preparation for the wider advance.
Many attempted to resist. The opposition did not yet have total dominance, and a long-fought guerrilla war ensued. Small victories were gained, but ultimately, the resistance suffered significant losses over time. Their pleas were labelled as disinformation, even hatred, therefore were easily discarded, but they never surrendered. Those who attempted to remain neutral were either forced into submission or drawn into the arms of the resistance, whose voices and numbers also grew over time.
Some Bridges are Too Far
Highly decorated and respected, I had achieved what the pamphlets said I could, only to feel emptiness take hold instead of contentment. The battle scars, in the form of wounds, told a story of grief. Like many others deeply entrenched, it seemed I was too far invested, and all bridges had been burnt down in acts of self-sabotage.
Dampened from battle, I began to take stock of the regime, I had once believed in without question. The cracks that were always on display, yet ignored, could no longer be missed. Generations of recruits, many far younger than myself, had also been left scarred and maimed. Not only that, but when they dared protest their grief to others, all their dedication was instantly discounted. Those who continued to protest were dishonourably discharged and found themselves even more lost, rejected by all.
Even the most faithful soldiers still seemed unhappy, not yet realizing what I had only moments earlier: the pamphlets lied, and it was us who were left to pay the heaviest price. Many were caught in the crossfire of the culture war. Families were split, marriages destroyed, and politics poisoned every facet of once-undisrupted lives.
We were soldiers, and we were the most venerated, yet just like a Vietnam War veteran, when we became injured, we were quickly forgotten by the mighty leviathan that claimed to once stand for us all.
Our defection did not come out of a whim, for we were the most loyal of all, and we proved it by giving every part of ourselves, even our bodies. Uncomfortable silence would pass us by as we saw new recruits, drunk on the propaganda, believing the war cries with every fiber of their being, as we once did. Those who had been on the front lines dared not spoil the moment for the new wave of soldiers, who increasingly became younger.
The smell of burning, blood, and iron brings you right back to that moment. You’re transported in time and memory, back on the front lines. A surgeon is scrambling to stop the bleeding from the wound sustained in the culture war, but it was not inflicted by any enemy. As if I had stood on a landmine willingly, our injuries garnered no empathy from even our comrades in arms. You’re just another casualty, expendable.
Thoughts of going AWOL fill your mind, but there is no escape, and the sense of honour is too profound. After all this, you can’t turn back now, and even if you were to do so, what then? Surely, some will say you’ve done your time, more than anyone else would, but it’s not enough for you.
You feel off inside, something isn’t right. The chants and hymns your army sings no longer fill you with the pride they once did. The propaganda posters, the lies they tell, are all too obvious now, nor can the polarities be ignored.
Doubtful, you confide in a superior officer, but rather than console you, they report you to high command. The medals on your chest are now meaningless; your loyalty has been brought into question. Their counsel comes in harsh, but seemingly with care, and you back down from the battle and take the assured rest you have long deserved. After all, you have injuries to attend to; you’ve been in this for some years now.
Saturation fills your life; it's colourless, and a grayscale melancholy takes hold. You remember the battles, the glory, and the losses, and a smile grows on your lips, but just like your service, it doesn’t last. Thoughts strike from the dark, inviting contemplations about the necessity of the injuries sustained, as well as how many others you led into battle blindly.
How many did you help maim? How many feel as you do now? Guilt, shame, and grief become more familiar than the four walls that you occupy. No amount of pacing will make the thoughts go away.
It was all for nothing, and not only that, but the realization that you had been fighting on the wrong side from the beginning also washes over you.
What have you done to yourself and to others? And for what purpose?
Viva La Résistance
Still in uniform, you begin to seek out the resistance, all too aware that they will approach you with caution, after all, you are in deep.
You wouldn't be the first infiltrator the resistance had encountered. Some were given away easily by their loyalty to the cause. My own paranoia acted as a barrier, tactfully sniping any hints at my identity while carefully ensuring I left no trace of identifiable information.
Simultaneously, I was not only attending drills but leading them. The polarity was eating me up from within, and I could no longer say with intent, the chants and war cries of the movement. At first, I suggested my retirement was due to the injuries long sustained. Understandably, no one dared question, for I had given a lot to the cause. Already disconnected, those around you begin to see your loyalty waiver and distance themselves over time.
The resistance, made up primarily of the wounded, describe exactly what you feel. The realization that not only was this for nothing, but we gave everything to the wrong people, and most of all, the self-blame overshadowed all else. The grief is profound, the pointlessness of the loss, it cannot be undone.
There must be others, and I know there are those with similar aims. Hiding behind the symbol of a flower, I appeal to the world to see if anyone can hear me. From the shadows, a vast network revealed itself. Parents, women, men, agents you previously thought hostile are reaching in an all-too-kind offering, an armistice. With nothing to lose, you gladly hear what they have to say. Stories are recounted of their own children being recruited into the regime and lost, unreachable with love or reason.
Unhindered by the constraints of propaganda, I began to see that the small resistance was actually far larger, far more organized and successful than the recruiters had led us to believe. Once again, the feeling of disbelief took hold, how could I be so stupid? Just a few days of allowing myself to be exposed to commentary and criticisms I previously wouldn't have, effortlessly unravelled the years of training.
Allow yourself to let go of a mere fraction of self-blame, and then you'll realize that you didn't do it alone. You were primed and ready for the regime, you just didn't know it until it was too late.
But it's not over. With no recruiter to sign you up, no messages of propaganda to recite, you decide to launch your own operation.
You're going to be part of a force that's going to do what others have tried, only now, the time is right, and you're not alone.
The regime held firm for years, possessing formidable fortifications and reasons to be confident. Anyone who dared resist was crushed, their life destroyed as an example for any would-be challengers.
Their weapons of choice were not sophisticated but highly effective. They gaslighted with poisonous ideas, which no mask could withstand. They spread propaganda and misinformation that would make Edward Bernays proud, all reinforced by questionable research financed by pharmaceutical giants, backed by media enterprises.
The opposition should not be underestimated.
Threats in the form of bullets whistled by as we pressed forward, facing blockades and chaos. Our shouts and screams could not be heard, and explosions of outrage left us deafened and shell-shocked. We were divided from the more rational voices urging us to take cover from the line of fire. Some of us withdrew, waiting for the hail of vitriol to pause, if not for a moment.
Others stood out and caught the attention of the opposition's iron sights and were quickly taken down without prejudice. Pinned and taking fire from both the formidable defences of the regime we were attempting to bring down, but also facing an indiscriminate bombardment of friendly fire.
Those who reached this point were worn down but not defeated, daring not to look at the destruction behind us, only facing forward. Despite the losses, we possessed something the regime didn't: raw truth, hard-earned from battles long fought, and here we were fighting once again.
Disbelief caught our enemies' faces as we got within visual range. Some held onto their anonymity, but I didn't. I wanted them to see my face, to know it was me.
An airstrike of news articles and interviews overwhelmed the fortifications, which appeared to be built strong but were all based on sand. They crumbled with ease. Resistance fighters, some who had felt worn from the long fight, rallied with us. In the form of lightning strikes, big names that could not be ignored weighed in too.
Realizing the power of truth, the ragtag group of misfits all took position. Some stationed themselves in bird's nests, ready to deliver deadly precision blows. Word of the battle had long reached many others who now also took up arms.
What seemed impossible only a year ago was now not only achievable but likely: victory. But at what cost?
Our success armed those we wouldn't normally align with, and with a weakened enemy, they too pressed the attack, gaining significant ground from another front. Surrounded, the regime was in its dying throes, but it would not go quietly.
We could not underestimate the fervour of belief, the zealotry of catastrophic thinking, nor could we discount that though nearing its end, the regime remained powerful even today. Not everyone could resist, and not all want to. They would go down fighting, even if that meant dying.
Yet, despite this, we pressed forward, unrelenting once again. Armed not with belief in an idea but faith in ourselves, we were the most formidable fighters. We had inside information, we knew how they worked, how they operated and were feared amongst all others.
All efforts of the regime now fixed their gaze on us, who we aligned with, the manner in which we fought, in any and all attempts to disarm us. But they could not stop us, nor could they stop the truth.
We’ve been to hell and back, and then we charged.