Here’s an experiment you might find interesting dear reader. Ask a friend or family member who’s been in the military: “Have you ever been in the gas chamber?”

Not all military personnel have experienced this event. It’s been mostly geared toward advanced infantry field training to get troops accustomed to life under combat conditions.

It takes place in a one room wooden shack where infantry trainees are herded in. All are wearing gas masks. 

The instructor lights up a smoking device which quickly produces tear gas. You see the vapour spread and swirl all around burning your skin. But you can breathe okay being you are wearing your protective gas mask. 

I found myself in that position at a point in time - 1964, Camp Le June, North Carolina.

That was when our instructor ordered all of us grunts: “Now take off your masks and sing the Marine Corps hymn before you’re allowed out of this building”.

I had young healthy lungs at that time. I was strong and brave and I had a plan. I was able to hold my breath for two full minutes while underwater. Therefore, I foolishly assumed, I’ll just hold my breath till I get out of here. Then I’ll be fine.

Well that was what I thought but that was not to be. I didn’t have to breathe in the fumes. They found their way right into my nasal passages, throat, eyes and down into my lungs instantly as I removed my gas mask. 

The toxic gas stung and it burned and it felt like death had a tight grip on my lungs and was fully intent on ripping them out.

I found out something unusual about that experience. The brightest, boldest and most accomplished of us recruits, after our eleven weeks of boot camp training; they just lost it. They choked. They coughed. They cried like babies.. They clawed at the wooden walls and they called for their mamas. 

This moment stands out for me as a very dramatic experience. It’s one of those times when things seem to be going along relatively well until suddenly the reality of the cold cruel universe creeps up on you from behind and kicks you in the butt.

Sudden and out of the blue, violent and traumatic events will do that to you. 

Afterwards you always think: Why did I put myself in that position?

I guess that’s why people buy insurance. We know car crashes and horrendous accidents do happen. Hurricanes, earthquakes and floods seem to strike when least expected. 

Still, we ourselves have positioned our bodies to be at that particular point in time to be struck and affected by this shock. 

It’s so easy to place blame on others, unforeseen circumstances, fate, the alignment of your stars in the heavens, etc. 

But you’re the driver of your vehicle. Even if you don’t believe it, when it all comes down, you direct and decide your own fate.

This, for me, brings to mind the fate and destiny of our society. 

We stumble along and are guided and directed by outside sources and influences just as individuals are.

There are the occasional ups and downs but no major upheavals are foreseen until they creep up behind us, and wham!

Hard times, depressions, combat conditions and social upheaval; these things are real. They lurk out there waiting like hungry buzzards.

After so many years of affluence and a relatively, easy life, complacency sets in. We figure we will manage and get along this time as we have done so many times in the past.

But when you look around you see ongoing riots, violence and rioting in so many major inner cities. Tens of millions of workers are unemployed. Rents have been postponed and delayed by so many people struggling to get by. And the debt burden grows larger each day. 

Our powers that be have all but demolished small business and free enterprise. Our middle class is crumbling and rapidly losing ground. Schools and churches have been closed for months. And our constitutional rights have been short circuited.

Central banks, the Fed and Treasury create trillions of new dollars trying desperately to keep all the balls in the air and continue just a little longer.

November elections are rapidly approaching. Emotions, animosity and anger are mounting to a boiling point with both sides sharpening their knives.

Each side (red and blue) appears totally opposed to being ruled over by their opponents if they come out on the losing side in this election.

Other nations have faced similar problems in past years. 

Some lucky ones have managed to turn things around through the application of responsibility and common sense. Others, sadly, have self-destructed and gone over the cliff.

Examples are numerous — Germany, Russia, Japan, Cambodia, etc.  

Let’s hope we are one of the lucky nations to escape the horrid consequences of our neglect and self- destructive actions.

Now seems to be an opportune time to load up on insurance, strap on your lifejacket and gas mask and attempt to remove yourself from harm’s way.

Time grows short and the cliff is ever so close.

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