The Aurelian Column "Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."

Sherman's Second March

William Tecumseh Sherman, the Union general who earned both fame and infamy during the American Civil War, decided early on that the coming catastrophe that would befall his nation was something he wanted to sit out.

Sherman was a schoolmaster in 1861. The superintendent of a southern military institute that would later become Louisiana State University. It was a job Sherman liked. And it probably broke his heart that many of the young men whose education he had been overseeing were gearing up for a horror the likes of which many of them could not imagine. But he could.

After the Southern states had begun to secede, the veteran soldier resigned his post, packed up his things, and moved to St. Louis to become the head of a street car company.

Sherman could have lived out the rest of life as an unassuming transit functionary, but it wasn’t to be. When the musket and cannon fire began, the grizzled veteran of wars in Florida and Mexico could not just sit at home and watch it all from the sidelines. If there was to be a fight, he was going to be in it. It was something in his bones — his DNA — that called to him. And he could remain a spectator no longer.

More than a century and a half later, many of us are finding ourselves in similar circumstances. We’re at a point in life where the unwelcome guest of wisdom has begun to settle in, but the conditions of our nation and our world won’t permit us to remain on the sidelines and relax in our respective gardens. History, it seems, is not giving my generation a break. Armies of both the physical and the all-more-destructive metaphorical, are on the march. Some of the soldiers of these legions are professionals, but most are just amateurs who have no idea what they are getting themselves into.

I now know how Sherman must have felt. There were dark clouds on the horizon, but few people were looking to the skies no matter how much he and his kind pointed out the coming storm. It must have seemed like nobody wanted to listen to reason, and that group insanity was becoming the latest fashion trend. Sherman probably wanted to collectively grab everybody he met by the shoulders and try desperately to shake some sense into them.

Unfortunately, for Sherman, and for us, there are times in history where reason is thrown out the window by those at the head of our affairs and enough of their followers to make their plans a reality. Sadly, we now seem to be entering such times again. And those of us who have been schooled in the ways of the world, and its history, are finding ourselves in the same predicament Sherman was in all those years ago. So we are starting to dust off our armor, sharpen our swords, and get ready for what we see in the storm clouds ahead.

I come from that rather strange generation that was in-between the Baby Boomers and Generation X. We were born during the Kennedy years, and our worldview was molded by childhood images of the heights of heaven and the depths of hell that was our world during the 1960s. It was an era where even the youngest were not spared the realities of current events. The turmoil of the times was the constant topic of conversation in our schools and at our dinner tables. There was no place for us to hide. No video games, or hundreds of channels of TV shows to choose from.

But we had books. And it was in those countless volumes many of my generation found the badly needed escape from the realities of our world. It was in the pages of the many tomes we read ourselves to sleep at night that we prepared for the unsure years that we instinctively knew were before us.

It was in this environment that the foundations were laid for me to leave my homeland at a young age; travel the world; become a news correspondent; an adventurer; an entrepreneur; a political strategist; and a student of the many spiritual and mystical traditions that humanity has carried with it during its ages-long sojourn.

I’ve experienced much, and have learned much more. There are many stories to tell. I had hoped to be able to take a breather during the later half of my years and take it all in. But, like Sherman, one is drawn back into the fray if circumstances demand. And today’s circumstances are certainly demanding.

Most of the contributors to the morass of information that now bombards us daily seem to be doing nothing more than rehashing problems and issues we all know exist. It’s just being offered up in different flavors of cynicism directed towards those who think differently or have different viewpoints. An Us-verses-Them of the mind and emotions that offer no way out of our circumstances, and no ideas as to what we should be doing next to head off catastrophe. What I hope to be able to contribute in both the written and spoken word, is a badly needed perspective that is both unique and, I like to think, constructively insightful.

Nobody has all the answers to any pressing issue or problem. Nobody. And if anyone claims that they do, they should either be ignored or locked up as a danger to the Human Race. To find the resolution to something that needs to be resolved, one needs to combine conversation, the exchange of ideas and, most of all, the sharing of observations and perspectives. These are the processes by which sane societies operate, and how great civilizations are both built and preserved.

So, here I am. Back into the fray to contribute that I can to a cause that is still being flushed out and defined. The only certainty is that there is a storm coming. One that has the potential to cause great harm and destruction. But, like all storms, there is a chance many of us will survive what is to come, or even avoid it all together. So long as we keep our heads, our wits and, just in case, our powder dry.

Let the conversation start, and the journey into (hopefully) better times begin.

© 2017 Thomas Michael Caldwell. All Rights Reserved. This written work is not to be copied or reproduced without the permission of the author. Links to this page from other websites is permitted and encouraged.