Thomas Wictor

Why I’ve never had an agenda

Why I’ve never had an agenda

In my senior year of college in Portland, Oregon, a group of friends and I went to an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet at a Chinese restaurant every Sunday morning. It was there that a guy named Mike christened me a “convictionless amoeba” for not have an agenda.

I laughed for hours. That was exceptional use of the language.

My friend Mike wanted everyone to have stated positions on everything. I just couldn’t do it. To me, powerful convictions were almost always irrational and based on wish-casting. By the time I was ready to graduate from college, I’d discovered that almost everyone I knew had a hidden agenda that ended up controlling them as surely as someone sitting in a secret bunker, using a joystick.

Powerful convictions and agendas made people into untrustworthy robots. At least, that’s how I saw them. At some point—when discussing something with me—I could see them shut down, as though their power were cut. They were no longer listening. All they were doing was watching my lips move and waiting for them to stop so that the person could resume blatting his or her convictions at me again.

I’ll admit that my hatred of convictions and agendas left me directionless for…well, all of my life. Even today I don’t have a direction. All my plans fell through.

But in my fifty-three years, there was never a moment in which I slammed the doors because an idea threatened me so much that I couldn’t deal with the person expressing it. My father said that I was so open-minded that my brain fell out. Well, I actually still have my brain. Here it is.


You can see the totally flat top of my skull. I could balance a glass of water on top of my head and run a full city block without it falling off. When I scaled the MRI of my brain to match a photo of me, my gray matter looked far too small, more like that of chimp.


That was in August of 2013, when I shaved the top of my head for my mother, whose hair had begun to fall out from the chemotherapy. She died two months later.

Directionless as I am, I’ve developed the ability to see clearly. A man who works for the biggest Arabic-language media outlet in the world has been talking to me about the wars in Yemen and Syria.

“Does it bother you that literally nobody else on earth is saying the things you are?” he asked.

No. Not at all. I know I’m right.

All my life, I thought I was a failure, but my predictions always came true. Not having an agenda sharpened my perceptions. There’s no group to which I’m fiercely loyal. I enjoy being an American, and I think daily about all the men and women who’ve died protecting me. However, I never thought, “America: Love it or leave it.”

It’s possible to criticize us for our indestructible stupidity. I guess my view is a paraphrase of what Winston Churchill said about democracy.

“The US is the worst country in the world, except for all the others.”

Tonight I wanted to write a post about Russia’s intervention in Syria, but I lost steam. It was a photo that did it.

It’s so obviously fake. Look at the two boys marked with the red arrows. They’re smiling. Somebody superimposed dramatic, billowing flames. Who knows what the real image depicted?

Whenever I see supposedly intelligent, rational people spreading transparent lies, it pushes me further away from society. This photo made the rounds recently.

All the captions said that it shows the immediate aftermath of a Coalition air strike in Yemen in which up to thirteen civilians were killed.

Doesn’t anyone have eyes or the ability to analyze?

There’s no smoke. Therefore the bomb was inert, not explosive. No doubt it was a BDU-56 practice bomb, filled with concrete and fitted with a joint direction attack munition (JDAM) kit. The kit makes a dumb bomb into a precision-guided munition that uses GPS coordinates.

You can see in the photo from Yemen that there are no casualties, and everybody is standing around, completely at ease. That means that a warning was given before the munition was dropped, and after the strike, the onlookers had no fear of any more attacks.

The munition hit an underground facility that had a roof made of reinforced concrete. Note the bent steel rebar. Since there’s no evidence of secondary explosions, the target wasn’t an arms depot. My guess is a shelter or communications center. At any rate, the Coalition located and destroyed a military installation without causing civilian casualties.

The fact that I’m a convictionless amoeba has kept me from adhering to narratives. I think that’s an advantage. It makes it less likely that I’ll be fooled.

Name an institution, and it probably has a hidden agenda diametrically opposed to its stated positions. Most political leaders and organizations develop a vested interest in making sure that suffering continues. The reason American culture no longer praises improvement is that if we solve our problems, then half the country will be out of a job.

I don’t know what the answer is. My own approach is to continue being directionless. It’s meant a life of uncertainty, but on the other hand, I haven’t had to develop superhuman denial in order to shore up my utterly phantasmagorical belief system. I’ve seen people completely go to pieces when forced to accept reality that they desperately wanted to avoid.

That won’t ever happen to me. When I talk to my brother Tim, we marvel that we’re not dead or locked up. From William Butler Yeats’ “The Second Coming.”

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

I’m not the best, and I don’t lack all conviction. Still, I can see what Yeats feared: insane chaos. I fear it too, but the transformation of people into unreachable zombies is worse. Their secret agendas are like cancer, metastasizing until the original person is dead.

Until just a few days ago, I couldn’t have told you why I’ve always loved Winslow Homer’s painting The Gulf Stream (1899).

People were horrified by Homer’s work. I understood their viewpoint, but I never shared it. Then last Thursday, when looking at the painting, I finally realized why this image comforted me, despite the sailor’s seeming hopelessness.

His salvation is imminent. Strange that I didn’t see it before.

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