How the BLEEP did that happen?! - Episode 1

I find myself in a position I would never have imagined. And all I can think is… how the BLEEP did that happen?! Some backstory.

In 1980, while attending High School in Johannesburg, South Africa -  all of us boys in my class were handed a form to fill in. It was to register for mandatory conscription to the army. I remember mindlessly filling it in because I was told I had no choice. Later I asked some questions and realized what I had done. 

The following year, when doing a speech in front of my class, I decided to compare the South African government to very repressive Communist Regimes. When I was done, my teacher advised me to never talk about that kind of thing again. It was not safe for me. I would likely get arrested.

Fast Forward. I left High School and went straight into College. Drama and Film. My military service was deferred. At the end of College I had an option. Do my Masters, thus further deferring my military service (bear in mind there was an active war going on and it would involve me killing people I had never met over some war I did not believe in) or leave college. I made the decision to leave college and start my career. On the appointed date I was to show up for military service, I did NOT go. 

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The result was I was labelled a criminal. From now on I would need to watch over my shoulder for the military police, who would happily throw me in prison. Evading them involved using every trick in the book. Luckily my Father worked in Intelligence so I had learned a thing or two. On multiple occasions the Military Police came for me but due to my training and the help of my friends, I was able to narrowly escape. This went on for SEVEN years. 

When Nelson Mandela came into power, we were all pardoned. I was no longer a ‘criminal’.

Fast Forward again. The last twenty odd years of my life have been divided between film-making and my personal growth.  This involved aligning myself with various organizations purporting to ‘make the world a better place’. At certain intervals I felt I had outgrown those organizations and their philosophies. Leaving those organizations was sometimes traumatic, involving death threats, derision or blacklisting. I know you’re probably asking - why the hell were you there in the first place? Good question. I’ll answer that in another posting.

It’s now 2017. I have left another organization. After I made some horrific discoveries, the difference between my values and theirs became glaringly obvious and heart-wrenchingly vast. I saw some things that were deep moral injustices and potentially illegal. Most importantly, they were injurious to my soul. By then, I knew the consequences of leaving would be grave and potentially life-threatening. I knew things were about to get bad. And they are.

There are various attempts being made by their agents to label me and my wife as ‘criminals’ and have us thrown in prison. 

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My ‘crime’? Having deep concerns about the way women are being abused. But my greatest ‘crime'?  LEAVING. Leaving it seems is a SIN. I am now being cast as a DEVIL of sorts. My friends on the inside may no longer talk to me and they are forbidden to listen to anything I say, post or share. (Except for their legal team and agents who may intend me harm, who are reading this). The loss of hundreds of friends has been staggering to me. I have been labeled the equivalent of a ‘SUPPRESSIVE’.

In some ways I am experiencing the echoes of apartheid-era South Africa again. A conscientious defector facing fanaticism. In that zealous framework I am cast as a ‘criminal’ for my beliefs. It's strange. I was so sure I was involved in something good. To have them turn on me, has made me re-evaluate SO many things.  I had no idea my life would come full circle like this. How the BLEEP did that happen?!

Good question.

To be continued...

Mark Vicente ©2017