Thursday, April 18, 2013 journey into unknown waters.

I sit now in the silence of my mind contemplating what today may mean to me in about 9 months from now. Kate and I today return to our fertility doctor  to take the final step in our IVF treatment, the implantation of the fertilized embryos into Kate's uterus. I now find myself dumbfounded at the possibility of being a father at a later stage of my life.

Likely I am one of the last of my high school classmates to have had children. Having to face infertility has challenged me on many levels, I have been largely able to handle it by focusing upon my wife and not looking too deeply into myself. Yet now less than 12 hours away from this dream potentially becoming a reality, I cannot run any longer from myself. There are days when I feel like I am a study in failures of every size and scope.

This is despite what many of my closest friends say is the opposite of the supremely confident man they know. Many things that lurk within the darkest parts of my psyche bubble to the surface of my mind's eye at moments such as this. I have to admit that I am terrified of the idea that I would be permitted to be a father.

When that thought finally hit me I began to list all of my faults and failings as a human being.  I cry tears of sorrow and joy equally mixed for various reasons. One of the first is that my father will never get to see or hold his grandchildren from myself and Kate. Next is the question do I deserve to be a father after serving in combat and helping to kill other human beings?

Forgive my maudlin ramblings but I cannot help myself but to think about what my life has been to this point. I am an itinerant writer, philosopher, and lackadaisical student of the human condition. What business do I have in creating life and then being responsible for that human being's education, welfare, and upbringing? While I am not the first man to have these thoughts mine are well uniquely of my own creation.

Kate is so much stronger than I and it is for her that I keep my voice silent of the doubts and questions. I could not ask for a better friend, lover, and most importantly stunningly beautiful woman to share my life with. I have to wonder now how my father felt when he and my mother found out that I was growing in her womb?

On a slightly humorous note, my parents were hoping for a girl rather than a boy as I would have been, if born female, the eldest granddaughter on both sides of my family. I was told this as a young boy, talk about things that come back to mind when you are least expecting them.  That rates right up there with your mother and father telling you that your sister was conceived to the song "Paradise by the dashboard light" by Meatloaf. Yeah I still threaten to send my mother the therapy bill for that little bit of too much information.

But what scares me most in spite of this potential miracle so much hangs upon something that is amazingly fragile. I have had nightmares about being back in combat again and rather than being told I have lost my father, that I lost my child and my wife. That very image within my mind horrifies me and makes me wake in a cold sweat praying to my gods that its only my fears that plague my unwanted dreams.

There is nothing I would not sacrifice or suffer to provide for my family, I would break my body and soul a million times over to see them cared for. Now I sit contemplating what it will mean to me if this dream comes to pass?  I have to admit as well that this journey for me has been harder than just about anything I have ever experienced.

Watching my wife endure countless injections and vaginal ultrasounds in our drive to become pregnant. I know that she considers me to be far more than a sperm donor yet my daemons plague me with doubts. I at times feel so utterly useless and undeserving of such a magnificent woman in my life. Kate has endured so much and I am often left feeling lost and in the way of progress?

Again I don't have an answer to why I feel this way and I understand why this is so difficult for couples. Being under fire in combat wasn't as scary as realizing that you cant' conceive normally. It also makes me boil with a silent and cold fury at those whom seem to have children and then treat that gift as  though it were an inconvenient and unwanted nuisance.

Also given my wife's strong feminist identity I have to understand that ultimately it is she not I whom must undergo the trials and tribulations of pregnancy. Having grown up in a post Roe vs. Wade United States and coming to the realization that if she so desired to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. I have no real authority or recourse and it makes this prospect more frightening than it was before.

I find myself at odds with the idea that I am basically as far as the law goes really nothing at all other than a contributing bystander. Yet I am strangely accepting of this as I understand because of this what it is that women face in this even today still dangerous process of conception and ultimately giving birth. It is women whom bear the greatest risks and potential losses in the perpetuation of our species.

I personally view all life as sacred and deserving of protection from anything that would endanger that life. Yet I do not believe that life as far as sentient life begins at the moment of conception. I have very strong feelings about abortion as well as the landmark case that made it the law of the land via the Constitution. I am however sensitive to the fact that it is not a trivial topic despite its treatment in the realm of the 6 second sound bite media that we know today.

Perhaps it is that I accept the fact that life is complicated enough without passing judgement on the most intimate of human activities, giving birth to a child. I have come to accept that life as I know it is full of contradictions and conflicting desires, beliefs, and ultimately needs. I do not condemn any woman whom makes her choice for ultimately it is they whom must bear the costs of that choice for the rest of their lives.

In fact I find it reprehensible that both sides treat the women whom face that choice as little more than a football to be kicked around for points. Now having to face the prospect of becoming a father it further forces me to look at what life does really mean. I respect the right of my fellow citizens to voice their beliefs and views, in fact I went to war to defend those rights and to see those rights were extended to a subjugated Iraqi people.

I don't expect my thoughts on this night to make sense to anyone even myself. I hope and pray to my gods, my ancestors, and the great mother whom we all depend that I am granted the sacred charge of being a father. Again forgive my ramblings and musings as I am a jumble of thoughts, hopes, fears, and dreams of holding my a baby or potentially babies in my arms.

I hope that I am both worthy and up to such a monumental task. I will not let my fears rob me of the joy that bubbles up from my soul at the idea of being called "daddy". I know when that day finally arrives I will weep unashamed of the public display of raw emotion of becoming a father. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share this with you, I have bared my soul to let these words flow from my fingers to this medium. May all of you be blessed for the support and friendship you have shared with me and Kate.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Op-Ed Boston and the human face of triumph borne from tragedy

April 15, 2013 is yet another date that is etched deeply in to my soul and it seems that my generation has had many of these already.

That day for me started with another night of no sleep as I have became accustomed to my nocturnal nature these days. That morning saw my beloved wife and I taking the next step in our struggle to conceive children as we underwent the next step of the in-vitro fertilization treatment.  With that process being done and returning safely home we went about our daily lives with our customary quiet dignity.

Yet when I awoke after finally convincing my body it needed sleep, my wife informed me of the events that occurred at the Boston marathon. My mind immediately pictured my beloved sister-in-law Thia and her lovely soon to be wife hurt or harmed by someone's desire to use violence to make a political statement. Gratefully I was informed that both of them were safe and well.

Yet I have spent the past few days mulling over what this event and its aftermath means to me. It has been this stream of conscious thought that prompts me to write about this tragedy.  Some have compared the shock of this bombing to the terrible day of Sept 11, 2001 and that is I believe an apt comparison for many reasons that I will discuss in depth. What followed that immediate tragedy is what makes my eyes tear up with humble pride at the resilience and strength of my fellow citizens of our great nation.

Within minutes and hours we began to hear news of the sheer capability of our nation to come together as one in the face of such things as terrorism upon our shores.  To paraphrase our President Barack Obama, "On days such as this we are not republicans, democrats, conservative, or liberal. We are Americans one and all."  I disagree with many of the policies and ideas of our sitting President yet I echo those same sentiments.

We are a free people and we all know deep within ourselves that that freedom demands a price of each and every one of us. We do not always get along and our disputes can be vitriolic and savage in their intensity of the give and take of the free market place of human thinking. Like any family we do have our dysfunctions and yet when something tragic strikes we line up to give selflessly to our fellows in a time of need. This strength is what makes my heart swell to bursting with pride and bow low with humility at the speed with which we act when the need is great.

No force upon this earth will ever deny our people the inalienable rights of "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." We have fought amongst ourselves and even others outside our borders in defense of that ideal that epitomizes our central belief of both the divinity of humanity and that freedom of humanity is paramount above all else. As our country begins yet another search in the murky world of terrorism in its hunt for the perpetrators of the Boston marathon bombing, please read my words and take heart.

We are a free people whom will when it matters most put aside our differences and live up to the Latin phrase of "E Pluribus Unum" or translated "One out of many". Do not let your hearts be darkened by fear of the unknown faces that seek to remove our freedom to replace it with fear and terror. Instead celebrate that we will not ever bow to any such pressures. In those acts of human kindness and unity in the face of fear and terror find strength to resist those whom seek to harm our belief in the goodness of humanity and the unity found in our bonds of brotherhood.

We the people of the United States of American stand in defiance of those whom would use violence and terror to subjugate humanity in an endless darkness. Our people are united yet again because you fail to understand what freedom does to the human soul once its light shines brightly upon it. We WILL NOT give up nor will we GIVE IN to fear and terror. As we have so many times before we rise to your challenge and overcome it with poise and dignity.  So in closing to my fellow citizens whom directly suffered this terror, you are not alone for we stand united with you now and in perpetuity.

Jared Royka

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Call to Arms...Attack the culture of violence itself not the tools.

Distinguished Readers,

To walk through the world in which we live our daily lives, it is amazing that we get out of bed at all. If one simply turns on the television, internet, print media, or radio; one is overwhelmed by the sheer amount of violence and horror in our lives. After the recent spate of extremely sensationalized mass shootings of recent memory all of them are horrific and tragic to the extreme. 

Yet again the talking heads and pundits of various interests ranging from the anti-gun crowd and their opposites namely the National Rifle Association war with each other. I hope to offer you a rational post of my thoughts upon this subject and to elicit a response in you the reader. 

The response I am hoping to elicit within you is to have you take the time to fully research this issues and what is really going on.  Let me first begin saying that I personally own several handguns and rifles as I enjoy the discipline required of a marksman. I also have a concealed carry weapons permit and intend to always have one as I am very committed to the exercise of my freedoms as a law abiding citizen of the United States of America.

Both points of view upon this issue have made it quite clear that neither side of this issue will accept anything less than total victory of their goals.  We have had gun control in the United States since the passage of the National Firearms Act in 1934 during the Franklin D.Roosevelt administration. This legislation prohibited the possession of fully automatic weapons, silencers, sawed-off shotguns, ect by private citizens. 

The National Firearms Act was followed in 1938 by the Federal Firearms Act which required those whom sold firearms; specifically interstate or international sales to purchase a Federal Firearms License. So we can see that we have had some form of gun control since the depression in the United States. Also one can specifically find instances of earlier restrictions upon the carry, possession, and use of firearms throughout our nations history. An accurate example is the Tombstone, Arizona law requiring those entering the town to leave their  firearms at the Tombstone Marshall's  office circa 1870s boom-town era.

Yet we continue to see a raging debate upon the 2nd amendment of the bill of rights because of the tragic shootings of past and recent memory.  Are further restrictions upon firearms ownership and other firearms related items required? One statement that I have heard often is  that we should "enforce those laws on the books" rather than passing further legislation. Furthermore those whom resist further restrictions upon firearms see any reforms of existing laws as a evidence of intention to take away their rights to bear arms.  And this concern is often ridiculed  and those whom utter it are often labeled derisively as "gun-nuts".

The advocates of stricter gun laws and regulations often state that private ownership of firearms creates more potential harm to society at large. Often called "anti-gun" or worse by those whom support the more liberal interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. Another area that often is cited as a reason for further regulation  and restriction of firearms is the prevalence of firearms found in criminal activities. Gun violence is in their views all too common and tragic could be easily prevented by the aforementioned  reform of gun control legislation.
The concerns about gun violence are not entirely unfounded or without merit.

Yet  I offer you this what is really at stake here within the gun control/2nd amendment debate? Do we no longer require the 2nd amendment? Should we have unrestricted access to firearms and to use those firearms for any purpose that does not harm others? At the heart  of the gun control/2nd amendment debate is a a deeper question that does not get address at all by either side in  my humble opinion, the culture of violence itself. What is the culture of violence you ask?

The culture of violence is in my own words; the cultural acceptance and inculcation of the usage of violence to achieve one's desired ends or to defend one's self from the violence of others. To clarify I am addressing the root cause of gun violence, which is the act of committing violence rather than the method that is used to commit the violent act itself.  Among the feminist community there is a concept  called "rape culture"; feminists state "rape  culture" is the cultural elements that trivialize rape, protects the perpetrators of rape, and ignores the victims of rape. I believe that our society has made the same cultural mistake with violence within our culture.

We glorify violence and encourage our young children to embrace it as a legitimate way to get what they want from others. Violence comes in many forms and flavors whether its against women, children, minorities, or simply for the sake of violence itself. This inculcation of violent behavior is ingrained by everything from sports to music. Yet sadly we see those areas blamed as the root cause or at least part of the problem of violence rather than ultimately laying blame where it truly belongs  ourselves.

It is we whom permit the use of violence as a socially acceptable method to get what one desires, not guns, video games, movies, music, or any other medium consumed by us. I also wish to clarify that violence per my definition also includes aggression as that is the act that often proceeds violent action. We have the duty and responsibility to educate ourselves and others; when violence is permitted and even necessary such as the defense of those whom cannot defend themselves.  I do not say that violence itself the evil that must be fought but that it is the ignorance we permit in regards to understanding the culture of violence.

I hope these words reach you and cause you to ponder a moment upon what really is wrong within our culture. I firmly believe that violence is a tool but that it should never be employed lightly or without the understanding of its consequences.  To long have we pointed fingers at everything but ourselves in attempting to deal with this issue. Please read, research, and critically assess the nature of the problem and educate yourself upon the culture of violence. We all must learn when, where, what, and how violence is necessary as well as when it is clearly not justified in its application.

Very Respectfully,

Jared M. Royka

Money Talks & It's Not Going Away Any Time Soon...

Distinguished readers,

Yet again we find ourselves at the same place yet again, its time to argue and wrangle over the federal budget. Regardless of what side of the isle you stand or don't, this is a important issue. We are once again deluged with messages of fear-mongering by both political parties. This is when we must be critical thinkers and be able do our own research and make decisions based upon those rational facts we find.

I am by far not the most politically active within my circle of friends yet I understand all too well its impact upon our daily lives. Both sides of the congressional isles wants to cut spending on the other party's constituent programs or simply items as defense spending or social security depending upon orientation of view. Yet there is a 3rd group those whom are fed up with the partisan bickering and brazen behavior that our lawmakers demonstrate all to well by acting with the maturity of toddlers in a sand box.

I know of people whom without some form of governmental assistance would be homeless and starving. Yet we all know from our experiences in the real world that we cannot spend excessively without consequences. Screaming about how the poor are over paid in this country or that the rich get too many breaks is frankly tiresome and detracts from the real issues. Will there have to be a spending reduction of some sort or fashion likely so but that doesn't mean we throw anyone to the wolves just yet.

So yet again I implore you all, to read as much information on these proposals. DO NOT buy into the fear-mongering of interest groups or political parties. Be vocal, call, write, email all your congressional representation. But remember in the end we must find a middle path and balance within ourselves. Our first words in our constitution is "WE THE PEOPLE" not corporations, political interest groups, and for god's sake certainly not money are the arbiters of our own government.

Yet we mostly remain content to be sheep waiting to be led to the next patch of grass. This cannot be permitted any longer, our Federal Republican form of government requires an educated, informed, and active citizenry. YOU get the leadership you DON'T demand and hold ACCOUNTABLE.

Yet we are a people that believes that while the majority rules, we will never permit the persecution or harm of a minority either through legal or illegal actions leveled at that minority. To permit that is to accept tyranny and that is not who we are as a free people. I hope that my words spur you to some action to research both sides of these issues. To find the facts and even if they contradict your personal views make a decision upon those facts.

We are one out of many and in that is our greatest strength. No force on earth can touch that strength. Let us set about shaping the rebirth and new growth of freedom; with malice towards none and charity for all (Lincon, 1863, Gettysburg address)


Jared Royka