Few People are aware of it, but while I was in the military and stationed at Bethesda Naval Hospital, I was court-martialed and found guilty on several counts of sales and use of illegal drugs, and on top of those charges they added participation in antiwar activities, such as marching in the Washington Peace march and associating with and supporting un-American groups, like those who tried to send a ship load of medical supplies to North Vietnam or those who chose to desert the military rather than serve in the war. I was to receive 20 years in prison with a dishonorable discharge.
I never had to serve the time, still… I was prepared to do so, because there was no doubt that I was guilty. Everything they charged me with came straight out of my handwritten confession, which they had tricked me into writing by the way… but regardless of that, it was all true. My guilt however came not from those petty charges they brought against me at the hearing but for crimes that were much more serious… crimes that I will have to live with for the rest of my life.
I have always been a good person, for as long as I can remember; even though I was raised in a Christian Reformed environment that taught me that I was a sinner by nature and, were it not for the Grace of God and the precious blood of Jesus, was worthy only of Hell. I never quite understood that, because, up until I went to Vietnam, there was not one thing I could think of, that I had done wrong in my life, that would make me worthy of eternal damnation. Of course Vietnam changed all of that.
To betray your country is a serious crime, I am fully aware of that. However, to betray yourself for the sake of your country is an even greater crime and that is what I had done. I had participated in activities that led to the destruction of homes and villages in South Vietnam and as a result, innocent women and children died. I have been making atonement for those crimes ever since… but have never regretted the life I have chosen, for I enjoy doing good.
Awhile back, I don’t remember just when it was; I stopped believing in a god and in the need for salvation. I did so because I had come to the realization that I was not someone bad but was by nature a good person. There were no ulterior motives for my actions. What I did, I did because I wanted to and not out of fear of some unseen creator god. That knowledge was, and still is, something that gives me a great feeling of freedom and accomplishment… rather like that time long ago when you looked back and realized that daddy wasn’t holding on to the bicycle anymore and you were actually riding it on your own.
I am not alive because of Life; I am Alive because I am Life.
I am not good because of God; I am good because I am God.
Learning to live without a personal god can be difficult in the beginning, but once you realize that you are the doer of all that you have done and ever will do, it becomes much easier and the rewards far greater… for he who finds himself, finds God.