For the rest of the calendar year, I’ll be writing posts that are aimed at looking at the future within our collective Spirituality that we call “Paganism.” All of these posts will be my own personal perspective, but is aimed towards creating a conversation looking towards the future. Mine is only one of so many different perspectives. No matter who you are – some Big Name Pagan, a simply blog writer, an author, a member of some coven or grove, a solo Practitioner…your voice is just as much a part of our future as anyone else’s and carries equal weight – no matter what we may individually think. This…is just mine…and the start of my voice in that much wider conversation. You don’t even have to join in with what you think, but I do ask that you take some time to turn the idea over for yourself and examine it.
It’s a cold morning. Winter is making another push into Tejas. I’m hoping that it’s a push for the colder weather to stay. After all, it never feels Winter when its nearly 70F, no matter if the calendar says “December” or “February”. ::smile:: My hard drive of music, with the help of MusicBee, has me starting my day with Cross Canadian Ragweed. Its just my massive music collection set to “AutoDJ”. 😊
As is my usual option, I spend my morning with headphones on, reading what little news I care to, blogs, and other things. I ran across an odd story that piqued my interest though. The headline blurted out: “’15 Minutes to Save the World: A Terrifying VR Journey Into the Nuclear Bunker.” Apparently, according to the article’s author, this is a Virtual Simulator to showcase the terrible responsibility of the President of the United States during a showdown against the Russians, who have utilized a “first-strike” option. The entire perspective, which is the author’s attempt at working the simulation, is an attempt by the simulator’s creator to instill some fear into the VR operator over the pressure that one chooses. The simulation provides three options, along with the estimations of associated losses. Or, if you want to, you can choose to utilize some options to achieve a different goal (which is not explained in any detail). You can even choose to do nothing. The author describes his feelings and emotional state at having to make what is certainly a Gods-awful choice, no matter what choice is made.
I never had the awesome responsibility of having to make such a choice when I served. I was a lower-level Non-Commissioned Officer (enlisted) at the height of my eight years in the Air Force. I was; however, part of the Command-and-Control Communications group. I was in charge of (sometimes) getting such commands as nuclear launch and strike out to the military units that held the keys to those weapons. Desert Shield/Storm, I was part of a team that was responsible for getting air strike missions, weather conditions, tanker aircraft location missions for planes to refuel, and many other pieces of information to the fighter squadrons tasked with a multitude of missions. I was easily nothing more important than a single cog in the mechanics of a well-trained and rehearsed war machine.
The realities and emotional fear were no different than what the author describes. We had training scenarios that put our unit on a war footing very quickly. We rehearsed our part of the mission – getting orders identified, quantified, authenticated by our upper command, and delivered down the chain of authority for nuclear mission launch and other related activities – just like it was the real thing. Many times, we were never informed that our training scenario was just an exercise. That was done to make us work exactly like we should during a “real-world” scenario. We trained on scenarios of what to do if our unit’s chain-of-command was compromised by issues such as hospitalizations, untimely absences of key personnel, and one time we even dealt with a scenario of the bunker being directly attacked and breached. The point of these exercise was to make sure that our actions for the appropriate movement of information was consistent with security protocols that we needed to maintain. We were also trained to think on our feet to deal with equipment failure, including commercial services that some of our equipment relied on. We trained so that dealing with things was rote memory. We could do our jobs without having our fears and emotions overwhelm our capability to do what has always been an unthinkable and wholly unwanted scenario.
Its been a super long time since I was in the Air Force. I’m sure a lot of the things that I remember have changed. I know the equipment has been upgraded and updated. Technology continues to change regardless of what else happens. That envelope of cutting-edge technology continues to progress. Information technology equipment that I used in the field is long outdated and useless in today’s digital environment. My equipment was the last-stand for analog technology in an approaching digital world for the 1990s.
Great back story to the VR simulator and all that, right? But this is a Pagan blog. Aimed at Pagan concepts within personal spirituality. What does all this have to do with all of that? Well, not much – really. But it does showcase one point that even I don’t pay much attention to. Progression of belief systems.
I can tell you right now, spiritual beliefs have changed a lot since the mid -1980s. Rituals have changed a lot since that time. Perspectives of what spiritual beliefs encompass have changed greatly as well. Many of the concepts and tenants that I remember have changed. For instance, attitudes concerning trans-gendered folks have entered into the spiritual environments that we have. This wasn’t something that had even been approached back in the 1980s. In fact, during the 1980s, the biggest fight seemed to be centered on Mens v. Womens Spirituality. Was it right to mix the genders? Was it right to separate them? What should be done out about those that identified beyond being straight? Back then, those seemed to be the driving questions of the day concerning spirituality. Now, everything is more complicated, more difficult to determine, and crosses into other areas of territory. What about skin color? What about the genetic line of the individual versus the conceptualized perception of the Spiritual path in question? Much like Technology has changed, so has our Spirituality.
Personally, I could give a flying fuck about any of that. If a person wants to be a part of a Spiritual path, my opinion is that they should be allowed to explore it. I certain don’t hold the Gods to be crusty, old, unbending Beings that would deny someone the chance to explore a Spiritual perspective based on some societal norm from the 1300s. The again, I’d be trying to feed you a shit sandwich if I didn’t add that I also don’t know the minds of the Gods. This is all speculation on my part. But it is the direction that I would take, and prefer to believe the Gods to be open to change, just as we are all open to the changes that come down in Technology, whether we completely agree with those changes or even like them.
The creator of the Virtual Reality simulation is trying to open the minds of folks as to the awesome responsibility of a nuclear launch and the emotional aspects tied to it. Yet, one thing is not taking into account: each individual that steps into the simulation has a different perspective on how to handle the moment. As the article denotes, many people made different choices. Some chose actions that made things worse. Some choose actions that didn’t. Some decided to not act. There’s no denotation of other critical aspects, such as the emotional state of the individual at the time before the simulation begins. Trust me, while the President does go through exercises to handle the responsibility, he/she/they is not provided the training of pushing emotions aside to do their jobs, like the military personnel who will carry out that choice have been. It’s a difficult job, certainly.
What about us folks dealing with choices in our Spirituality? As I noted, our issues are wider, far more diverse, and equally divisive within our wider Community. I know my feelings and perspectives when it comes to exclusion of individuals based on their biological perspectives at birth versus where they are today. I have no barriers for people based on stuff like that. Born as a male but now identify somewhere else? What you feel to be now is what you are. I know that doesn’t always wash in terms of Mens mysteries versus Womens mysteries, but I’m not one to split the “sexes” either. All of that is difficult terrain to cover because we are all individuals. We all have our own perspectives to cover. We can disagree on issues like this. We can even go into exclusionary Spirituality. But unlike the VR Simulation, we’re not given the information of what such choices will cause. The only way we know the aftermath is to select a choice and move forward. And often, we human beings make choices hastily. We worry about the consequences when we arrive. Because we don’t have a virtual reality simulation to show us the potential consequences of what those choices will cause.
One last thought. The Virtual Reality Simulator that the author crows about in the article. It certainly does show you the causes of your choices. It provides you with estimations of the deaths caused. But a simulator is a programmed set of instructions. I’ve enough programming under my belt to know that a simulation is a set of instructions that show a suggested outcome chosen by the individual programming the machine. An individual with their own set of biases and opinions on how things will happen. Your opponent in the Simulation is a set of ones and zeroes designed to follow a flow-chart of decisions based on a small set of perspectives. Biased perspectives…of the programmer. For the Spirituality outline that I am drawing parallels from, there are many biased and perspectives. None of them a set of choices and outcomes. All of them based on individuals that may be reacting from an environment of personal crisis of their moment. Their choices today might be different yesterday or tomorrow base don the day they are having. It might even be different from hour to hour, minute to minute. How much an effect each of those differences will have – cannot be measured by anyone other than the individual. I learned that from so many nuclear release drills that I was exposed to. Every individual reacts differently from moment to moment. It’s the sole reason that I don’t place too much faith in any programmed simulation or even in the results of any practiced drill. I can only place faith in the moment, with its own programmed flaws.