Sort your life out

All too often we’re told “sort your lives out”; for it’s a favorite saying at regiment.  What is amazing is that while we are expected to be on time and prepared, very rarely does the regiment do us the same courtesy.  All too often the stigma of “hurry up and wait” comes into play as we are hurried from one place to the next only to spend most of our time standing around.  The nickname the guys and I have come up with for this is “Wait Training”, as that seems to be the most frequent regiment exercise – patience – all 3 years, 2 months and 2 weeks of it.

I’m sorry to those 75% of Bermudians who think conscription is a good idea for frankly I think it’s a waste of time for the majority of youth who are forced to be there.  The benefits for us lowly privates just aren’t there.  The only benefits are in favor of the country should it need to be entertained from a circus of trained animals and put on a show or act like slaves exploited to provide a cheap labor force for times of emergency.  It is unjust and frankly quite ridiculous and I don’t see how many in the community don’t see that, but ultimately there is nothing that my fellow conscripts or I can do about it, we’re stuck.  This is what the greater majority believes we should be doing and as a minority there simply isn’t much that we can do aside from wait it out or get unruly and riot.

Despite the belief that many youth fail to give back to the community, I’m desperately trying to figure out how to make a difference for the island to ensure there is a future for young Bermudians.  Regiment simply isn’t it, it isn’t going to provide affordable housing, it isn’t going to provide the education my generation has been robbed of and it isn’t going to help most of those soliders who don’t have jobs get jobs.  Are we nothing but clowns out to put on a show for the rest of the community?  Out to be laughed at as we’re prodded to do tricks like spin on command and walk in unison at the threat of imprisonment and extra years of conscription if we do not perform?  Our commanders might as well wield branding irons as you will be branded with a criminal record if you step too far out of line.

I’ve joined and contribute to so many organizations I can barely keep my head afloat.  Bermudians For Referendum, Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce and Youth on the Move are just examples, let alone trying to keep a regular commentary about how to improve Bermuda in blog form, work a full time job, somehow manage to find a reasonable place to live (which if you know of anything – I’m still looking), assist government, the UBP, ABC and whatever other organization I can convince to take on and embrace modern technology to encourage better communication going amongst Bermudians and somehow, on top of all this I have fantasies of trying to run for Parliament to make a difference.  I must be wasting my time as clearly Regiment does more then all of these things.

Those in Regiment may well be right; I do need to sort my life out.  I simply care too much about trying to make a difference and it is growing ever clearer that caring about Bermuda’s future is a pointless escapade that will only do me more harm then good.  Why can I not accept that 75% of Bermudians believe that my time is best spent simply doing regiment?  That is my forced commitment to the country and I should simply leave it at that.

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9 thoughts on “Sort your life out

  1. Denis, you make a few decent points, but they are often drowned in the hyperbole. Stop whining and think about why some problems are the way they are in the Regiment. Although there is ample blame to go around to everyone, here is one example: All soldiers must pass their APWT (make sure they can shoot straight) before going away to the overseas camp. The APWT is scheduled for a weekend camp, but only half the troops show up. Now, the unit is stuck trying to get the other half of the soldiers to shoot on the range on other drill nights, when the commanders and soldiers should be doing something else. Of course, we could find examples the other way.

  2. Denis, keep it up. It’s good to hear someone finally airing out the inefficiencies of that place. Bermuda needs to catch to 2007.

  3. Douglas – I’m not entirely sure if you’re of rank, or in any way, shape or form associated with the Regiment. But in all honesty – I really don’t care. It doesn’t mean squat outside of those gates, and the sooner everyone gets a firm grasp of that point, the better.
    The Regiment is a joke.
    You can tell Denis to stop whining, and you can attempt to justify the need for the Regiment, weapons training, overseas camps and Pte’s doing an APWT outside of the Cadre – but the reality is, it’s bull.
    In Jan, you take two-hundred and some people away from their friends and family, and stick them in a farce of an establishment to piss away two weeks of their lives. And for what? So we can become better aquainted with rifles we’ll never use?
    Can you honestly tell me that the use of lethal weapons will EVER be called upon? And if so – would you entrust that responsibility to PRIVATES? The founders of this little establishment of ours must have been on crack when this notion was conceived.
    But of course! Silly me. Teaching an overwhelming handful of the nation’s disgruntled and negleted youth – who are either pushing or using drugs, or have some ‘gang’ affiliation – to use rifles seems like a SWELL idea.
    Right.
    One of these days, some dick with a superiority complex (because he has ‘rank’) is going to piss off the wrong person on the range. And it’s all very well thinking you can abuse that power because you’ve got your cute little DPM’s on and some flashy stripes on your arm, but the reality is – you’re going to be outside of those gates at some point – and these days, our disgruntled youth has a great deal less to lose.
    You say ‘..think about why some problems are the way they are in the Regiment.’
    Hmm. Let’s ponder.
    ‘Well.. it’s worked for the last 40 years so..’
    Wait. No. That’s not it.
    OH YES! Because the people who eat, sleep and breathe the military life do jack all day. I don’t get it. They’re hardly doing anything of importance.
    If companies like XL and ACE – that operate on a global scale – can get things of importance from A->B within the day, read, and replied to.. then WHY THE HELL does it take the Regiment WEEKS to shuffle through the very little paperwork they have? We had Pte’s who were so screwed up they were unable to walk at Recruit Camp. And it took how long to get the paperwork sorted? And during that time that people were dicking about, what was the Pte in question made to do?
    Stay with his section.
    He can’t walk.. and yet he has to follow his secion around. Down to the car park. Up to the place behind the Sgt’s mess. Over to the refectory. Back down to the car park.
    Rinse and repeat until dying becomes preferable to taking another step.
    I’ll finish this later.

  4. Next on the list? Good ‘ol guns. Drop me at your earliest convenience.
    Prior to handing our sexy little metallic bundles of joy in at the end of camp, I do recall being instructed to clean mine. Because I’m a wee bit of a perfectionist, I saw to mine like I’m sure most Pte’s ‘saw’ to their significant other’s during those few hours we were dismissed mid camp.
    Yes. That would be thoroughly.
    It sparkled, like the twinkle in a pedophiles eye as he passes Woodrose Nursery during recess. Who cares if it’s a terrible analogy. The point is – I did it, and I did it right.
    It was spotless.
    Upon inspection, both my lCpl and my Sgt handed me their rifles to clean to the same standard.
    And I did.
    They were returned as instructed – handles out, chambers open.
    Fast forward.
    Can anyone recall what we did that first drill night? Because – and do correct me if I’m wrong for I might be a week out – I distinctly remember going to fetch my rifle, do to fuck all with it, only to then be instructed to clean it once more.
    I turned to my lCpl, and ask him if his rifle needed cleaning. He responded no. Given that I cleaned his rifle, and I spent twice as long cleaning mine as I did his, it would only be natural to assume that mine too would be clean.
    So I refused.
    I refused to strip down my rifle beside the dusty square and share a cleaning kit with the rest of my platoon.
    ‘Masters’
    ‘Yes, dear?’
    ‘Clean your fucking rifle.’
    ‘But it looks so happy the way it is.. just.. resting there against the wall. All clean and stuff. Doncha think?’
    ‘I’ll make you run round this square if you get smart with me.’
    ‘Wouldn’t that go against the medic’s orders?’
    ‘I’ll make you wheel sand from one end of the beach to the other.’
    ‘Can I build castles, too?’
    ‘You know what, Masters? Fuck, man. Get your Brasso and a cleaning cloth, and clean this fucking ammo box.’
    ‘Hoorah productiveness!’
    And I did exactly that, without so much as a word, and a huge grin spread across my face. To think I was getting $20 of the taxpayers money to rub a box down! If only the rest of life was that easy..
    The next time we required to get our rifles – to do that little shooting test in the dead of night – I noticed that my chamber had dirt in it. As did my barrel.
    Riddle me this: If I’m issued both a rifle and a number at the start of my service, would it be unreasonable to assume that I should be the only person using said rifle? Or is this like area cleaning? We’ve not been in camp for a week, yet we’re required to clean up after those above us who couldn’t be bothered to do it for themselves.
    Speaking of rank, is it too much to ask that we don’t have shit-for-brains superiors instructing us? And if they are indeed less intelligent than the average bear, could someone have the God damn decency to point this out to them?
    During our VCP lecture, we were informed that two men would run about 75 yds up the road with a caltrop, and hide in a conspicuous position.
    Stop the record. Let’s just break that last bit down for the hard of thinking:
    hide /haɪd/ verb, hid, hid•den or hid, hid•ing, noun
    –verb (used with object)
    1. to conceal from sight; prevent from being seen or discovered
    on•spic•u•ous /kənˈspɪkyuəs/
    –adjective
    1. easily seen or noticed; readily visible or observable
    You MUST be kidding me.
    It’s a good thing some of us have half a brain, no?
    I’d have let him off for failing to master his native tongue if he’d not later ‘reliterated’ his point.
    Forgive me – I can’t help but laugh.
    Next up? Instructional conflict.
    During our initial training, we were informed that the safety trigger was ALWAYS to be applied and released with your LEFT hand (or your right if you’re one of those odd people that insists on shooting backwards). In any case – NOT the trigger finger. That’s all very well and lovely, no? During my training in England we were told the same thing. Hell, ANYONE who’s EVER been told the correct safety and handling procedures will know this to be true.
    But during a drill session when we were on the range, a Sgt Maj told a Pte he was doing it wrong.
    Sure. That makes sense. The rest of the world just didn’t get the memo. Breakdown of communication – you know how it is.
    Pressing forward.
    Let’s talk psychology!
    1971. The Stanford Prison Experiment.
    I’m going to pretend you have no idea what I’m talking about, and give you the down low. That’s trendy talk there, right? Down low? 411?
    Listen up.
    The study was funded by the U.S. Navy to explain conflict in its prison system and the Marine Corps. Zimbardo and his team intended to test the hypothesis that prison guards and convicts were self-selecting, of a certain disposition that would naturally lead to poor conditions in that situation.
    Participants were recruited via a newspaper ad and offered $15 a day to participate in a two-week ‘prison simulation.’ Of the 75 respondents, Zimbardo and his team selected 24 whom they deemed to be the most psychologically stable and healthy. These participants were predominantly white, middle-class young males. All were college undergraduates.
    The group of twenty-four young men were divided in half at random into an equal group of ‘prisoners’ and ‘guards’. Interestingly, prisoners later said they thought the guards had been chosen for their larger physical size, but in reality they had been picked by a fair coin toss and there was no objective difference in stature between the two groups.
    The prison itself was run in the basement of the Stanford Psychology Department, which had been converted into a mock jail. An undergraduate research assistant was the ‘warden’ and Zimbardo the ‘superintendent’.
    Zimbardo set up a number of specific conditions on the participants which he hoped would promote disorientation, depersonalization and deindividuation.
    Guards were given wooden batons and a khaki, military-style uniform they had chosen themselves at a local military surplus store. They were also given mirrored sunglasses to prevent eye contact. Unlike the prisoners, the guards were to work in shifts and return home during off hours, though at times many would later volunteer for added duty without additional pay.
    Prisoners were to wear only intentionally ill-fitting muslin smocks without underwear and rubber thong sandals, which Zimbardo said would force them to adopt ‘unfamiliar body postures’ and discomfort in order to further their sense of disorientation. They were referred to by assigned numbers instead of by name. These numbers were sewn onto their uniforms, and the prisoners were required to wear tight-fitting nylon pantyhose caps to simulate shaven heads similar to those of military basic training. In addition, they wore a small chain around their ankles as a ‘constant reminder’ of their imprisonment and oppression.
    The day before the experiment, guards attended a brief orientation meeting, but were given no formal guidelines other than that no physical violence was permitted. They were told it was their responsibility to run the prison, which they could do in any way they wished.
    Zimbardo provided the following statements to the ‘guards’ in the briefing:
    ‘You can create in the prisoners feelings of boredom, a sense of fear to some degree, you can create a notion of arbitrariness that their life is totally controlled by us, by the system, you, me, and they’ll have no privacy.. We’re going to take away their individuality in various ways. In general what all this leads to is a sense of powerlessness. That is, in this situation we’ll have all the power and they’ll have none.’
    The participants who had been chosen to play the part of prisoners were told simply to wait in their homes to be ‘called on’ on the day the experiment began. Without any other warning, they were ‘charged’ with armed robbery and arrested by the actual Palo Alto police department, who cooperated in this part of the experiment.
    The prisoners were put through a full booking procedure by the police, including fingerprinting and having their mug shots taken, and were informed of their Miranda rights. They were transported to the mock prison where they were strip-searched, ‘deloused’ and given their new identities.
    The experiment very quickly got out of hand. Prisoners suffered — and accepted — sadistic and humiliating treatment at the hands of the guards, and by the end many showed severe emotional disturbance.
    After a relatively uneventful first day, a riot broke out on day two. Guards volunteered extra hours and worked together to break up the revolt, attacking the prisoners with fire extinguishers without supervision from the research staff. After this point, the guards tried to divide the prisoners and pit them against each other by setting up a ‘good’ cell block and a ‘bad’ cell block. This was supposed to make the prisoners think that there were ‘informers’ amidst their ranks. The efforts were largely effective, and there were no further large-scale rebellions. According to Zimbardo’s former convict consultants, the tactic was similar to those used successfully in real U.S. prisons.
    Prisoner ‘counts’, which had initially been devised to help prisoners get acquainted with their identity numbers, devolved into hour-long ordeals, in which guards tormented the prisoners and imposed physical punishments including long bouts of forced exercise.
    The prison quickly became unsanitary and inhospitable. Bathroom rights became privileges, which could be, and frequently were, denied. Some prisoners were made to clean toilets using their bare hands. Mattresses were removed from the ‘bad’ cell, and prisoners were forced to sleep on the concrete floor without clothing. Food was also frequently denied as a means of punishment. Prisoners endured forced nudity and even acts of sexual humiliation.
    Zimbardo himself has cited his own increasing absorption in the experiment, which he actively participated in and guided. On the fourth day, he and the guards reacted to a rumor of an escape plot by attempting to move the entire experiment to a real, unused cell block at the local police department because it was more ‘secure’. The police department refused him, citing insurance concerns, and Zimbardo recalls being angry and disgusted at the lack of cooperation between his and the police’s correctional facilities.
    As the experiment proceeded, several of the guards became progressively more sadistic — particularly at night, when they thought the cameras were off. Experimenters said approximately one-third of the guards exhibited ‘genuine’ sadistic tendencies. Most of the guards were upset when the experiment was cut off early.
    One point that Zimbardo used to argue that the participants internalized their roles, was that when offered ‘parole’ in exchange for forfeiture of all of their pay, most prisoners accepted the deal. Then, when their parole was nonetheless ‘rejected’, none left the experiment. Zimbardo argues that there was no reason for them to continue participating if they would have given up the material compensation in order to leave.
    Prisoners began to show acute emotional disturbances. One prisoner developed a psychosomatic rash all over his body upon finding out that his ‘parole’ had been turned down (Zimbardo turned him down because he thought he was merely trying to ‘con’ his way out of the prison by faking illness). Uncontrollable crying and disorganized thinking were common among the prisoners. Two of the prisoners suffered such severe trauma that they were removed from the experiment early and replaced.
    One of the replacement prisoners, Prisoner #416, was horrified at the guards’ treatment and went on a hunger strike in protest. He was forced into solitary confinement in a small closet for three hours. During this time, the guards made him hold the sausages he had refused to eat. The other prisoners saw him as a troublemaker. To exploit this feeling, the guards offered the other prisoners a choice: Either the prisoners could give up their blankets, or #416 would be kept in solitary confinement overnight. The other prisoners chose to keep their blankets. Later Zimbardo intervened and had #416 returned to his cell.
    Zimbardo decided to terminate the experiment early when Christina Maslach, a graduate student Zimbardo was dating at the time (later his wife) and previously unfamiliar with the experiment, objected to the appalling conditions of the ‘prison’ after she was brought in to conduct interviews. Zimbardo has noted that of the over fifty outsiders who had seen the prison, she was the only one who ever questioned its morality. After only six days of the planned two weeks, the experiment was shut down.
    The Stanford experiment ended on August 20, 1971. The experiment’s result has been argued to demonstrate the impressionability and obedience of people when provided with a legitimizing ideology and social and institutional support. It is also used to illustrate cognitive dissonance theory and the power of authority.
    In psychology, the results of the experiment are said to support situational attributions of behavior rather than dispositional attribution. In other words, it seemed to entail that the situation caused the participants’ behavior rather than anything inherent in their individual personalities. In this way, it is compatible with the results of the also-famous Milgram experiment, in which ordinary people fulfilled orders to administer what appeared to be damaging electric shocks to a confederate of the experimenter.

    I’ll be nice. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and give you the chance to parallel this experiment to the Regimental system. How it strips us of our freedom and individuality, and we’re placed in a situation whereby the only choice we have is to conform to the roles in which we’ve been placed.
    We are, effectively, prisoners.
    And you? You people with ‘the power’? You, too, conform to the disposition that is expected of you. You stand less than a foot away and scream at us, and expect us to scream back. You strip us of our bathroom privileges and force us to piss in plastic bags after lights out. You deprive us of sleep. You make us shave our heads. You make us stand outside in the pissing rain, drenched from head to toe, ‘guarding’ a ‘key point’ – with no magazines and BFAs.
    DO YOU PEOPLE REALLY EXPECT TO BE TAKEN FUCKING SERIOUSLY?!
    And when we refuse? We get locked up.
    Yeah. REAL EFFECTIVE.
    So here’s what the problem is, incase you missed it the first time:
    THE REGIMENT IS A FUCKING FARCE.
    You know it. I know it. The people who run it know it. And what do you do about it? FUCK ALL. You ALL have the ability to change it. But you don’t.
    You’re too fucking lazy.
    So believe all you want that it’s for a good cause. Throw bullshit lectures our way on a weekly basis. Teach us all about the history of the Regiment, and what it’s job is. It’s job on this island where not a God damn person takes it seriously.
    You know why there are crowds of people outside Recruit Camp on day one? Because they’re sadistic little cunts. They’re not there for the people they love – they watch us walk into this bullshit institution, all geared up for fuck knows what. And those who were marginally late? Dragged by RPs to I’m not entirely sure where. But some fell.
    And the crowd cheered.
    Long live community spirit, eh?
    You ALL need to realize that the Regiment stands for nothing but a long standing tradition of disorganization, and pissing away the tax payers money. You treat us like shit, you fuck us about, you pay us next to nothing, you’re under the DISILLUSION that you’re better than us because you have a stripe on your arm.
    I’m sorry – how did you get that again? You.. turned up on a Monday?
    Well I’ll be damned 😐
    Here’s a suggestion: SORT YOUR OWN FUCKING LIVES OUT.
    Just because you didn’t have the best experience as a Pte doesn’t give you the right to treat the Regiment as a punishment to others. If you like that mentality, then hell – why don’t we bring segregation back into the social system? Our politicians were all about white empowerment back in the day. And now it’s black empowerment.
    We all know what the next step in the system SHOULD be.
    But it doesn’t mean it has to.
    In closing, I’d like to state that I accept whatever consequences these comments may bring upon me. Whether it results in the termination of my transfer to Support Coy, or whatever disciplinary bullshit is in store.
    Bring it on.
    Because I’m just looking for another excuse to stand out in the rain with a smile on my face as the condition of my heel rapidly deteriorates.
    $20 says my medical bills and the impending lawsuit thereafter will exceed the Regiment’s annual budget. Or maybe not? I don’t know – whats the payout these days for negligence on a Doctors part and the inability to walk? Or blatant ignorance on the Regiment’s part?
    You need me? Prove it. Stop dicking me about and wasting my time. If whatever skills I have may be an asset to you then use them – but being a damn well foot soldier is sure as hell not one of them.
    Put me somewhere useful. Or get me the fuck out.
    It’s really simple.
    Oh, and keep me out of the fucking rain. Here’s what happened last time: CLICK.
    Is that easy enough for everyone to digest?
    I thought so.

  5. Don’t give up the fight Alex and Denis! Speaking out against an organisation which has absolute power over you takes strength. Just because the flock of sheep want to call you whining wimps doesn’t make it so. I suppose they think that if you kept quiet or fell into line and joined forces with the rank to make your lives easier it would somehow demonstrate greater personal strength. Maybe they just think its “Your turn”. Pity them.
    If 75% support conscription, clearly we need more people like you to tell them what really goes on up there. I did my three years and the situation was exactly the same. Your stories are 100% spot on, no bullshit or exaggeration necessary.
    If we are going to keep that festering shit-hole in Warwick going as the public seems to wish, the very least we owe the conscripts is a massive overhaul of the institution! Stop imprisoning, injuring and abusing our young men in the name of public service Bermuda!

  6. I had to go in front of the RSM to explain why I wanted to be a non-combatant and found myself in a dialogue that was farcical to the level of being from Catch-22.
    Not only am I standing there answering an illogical stream of circular arguments, but I have to stand to attention the whole time like a complete ass hole.
    “Why don’t you want to shoot?”
    “Because I don’t like power, and war and chains of authority” I’m a pretty commited pacifist all around, and raised by two equally pacifist parents,
    “But you must have a job and report to somebody”
    “Yes, but that is a consensual and contractual relationship” Nothing in the Regiment is contractual, even if you do what you are told, they still find ways to find flaws and assign punishment.
    “You being here is consensual, you had a choice not to show up.” I was dying to say, ‘either you know you’re lying or that is the stupidest thing I ever heard.’
    Instead I settled for “I was under coercion to come, as the alternative was being pulled from my home and arrested” as was repeatedly informed to us as the imminent fate of the Bermudians against conscription.
    “The regiment didn’t force you to come, the law did. I can’t do anything about that”
    Is that a fucking joke;
    “I’m finding it hard to distinguish between the two in my position right now”
    “So why don’t you want to shoot?’
    “Because I don’t like guns, I don’t like violence, the thought of killing people and everything that rifle in your hands represents”
    “But you’re not killing anybody; you’re shooting at a target”
    “What’s on the target?”
    “A German, now don’t tell me you’re German”
    I’m not, and this is the umpteenth time I’ve heard this line of logic and I’m still uncomfortable. Just because I’m not loading a shell into somebody’s chest doesn’t mean that it is therefore non-violent. If I burned a cross could use the same logic; it’s just two sticks crossed. Burn a bible; it’s not the word of god, its paper and ink. Holding and firing a rifle is violent and I simply am incredibly uncomfortable with it. I’m uncomfortable with war in a way that I don’t think most of the Regiment brass is. I’ve seen the effects of war and I’ve seen a soldier dying from gun shot wounds. To them it’s almost a boys club up there in Warwick.
    The worst part is that other than not wanting to shoot, I’m not a bad soldier. I show up every week. I shave. My boots are so shiny they’d fit in with an S&M outfit. My clothes are ironed, and I coasted through all the fitness tests (beating the PTI in the run) and the one rifle test in January. None of this seems to buy me any credibility.
    I’ll post again on the status of my non-combatant application.

  7. Denis, regarding your comment [you really do need to curb the cursing – it comes off as an attack and people stop registering your arguemnt] on MSN –
    It should be obvious by now that the Regiment is unable to communicate with people without the use of foul language. I’m not sure if this is strictly down to their distinct lack of intellect, but by any means – if we’re going to want to be *understood* by them, then we’re going to have to regress to a more primitive means of getting our point across.
    Now can someone PLEASE explain to me why we had a MASS during recruit camp? I find that not only hypocritical (as the Regiment is collectively the largest group of unchristian men I’ve ever witnessed) but downright insulting to my own beliefs. Rifles? Fine. Wait training? Fine. Doing other people’s shit for them? Fine.
    But listening to some fool talk about a BHAG? And HYMNS?
    WHAT THE FUCK ARE THESE PEOPLE THINKING?!
    My BHAG – make these next three years worthwhile.
    And the only way I can EVER see that happening is if I’m discharged, because it sure as hell isn’t going to be the Regiments doing.
    Solution? Get someone who actually has a fucking clue to run the place. Who’s willing to take responsibility for their own ill preparation and disorginisation, and ensure that those in charge see that the Ptes who will ultimately be ‘defending’ this country, feel as though they should.
    Like they have a reason to.
    Because the state this place is in now? Hell. We should have given it to the Germans (would they even care?) if we wanted to see it in this state.
    Maybe we should overthrow the government and seize control of the country like they do everywhere else in the world 😐 At least we’d actually have a racially diverse party, and I’m fairly confident that less than 5% of us want to fuck our fellow cabinet members.
    Shame the same can’t be said about the PLP 🙁

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