An Open Letter To Manning.
Bradley E. Manning
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
The life of the people is incompatible with the life of the politicians.
The lives of the people are part of humanity; a machinery that performs without political commandment.
But with every machinery, there are influences that wish to seize control over us, the machinists.
Those influences are political. This is the fact and it is undisputed.
The machinery, in society today, gives us a degree of control, enables us to self-awareness, makes us conscious about the paths of life we walk, but mostly, provides us with choices and possibilities — frequently labeled freedom or liberty.
But, political influences also enable us to have control, and simultaneously minimize our ability to know which path to take. These influences blind our right for self-awareness. They deafen us to the sounds we need to hear.
And most importantly, they silence us and prevent us from aggressively speaking up.
We are the people and we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow. Martin Luther King said that in his I Have a Dream speech as you know, on August 28, 1963. Though they came from another perspective, regarding the free rights and equality of Afro-Americans, his words still apply 51 years later.
Leaders of his establishment only exist now in our minds, in our past, but they do so with the necessary enforcement. Not everyone feels, nor shares that same belief.
There are those, including a greater majority, as it is required, within the harsh realms of Washington and The Hague that pursue the conservative way of thinking that truth is not something of the people.
Therein lies the grave violation of political actions.
The people have a right to know. And we exercise that right to knowledge when fragments of the truth see the light via journalism or by protagonists of progressive voluntarism. In our present time these protagonists are now titled whistleblowers.
These whistleblowers are becoming a necessity to expose and to mark the injustices that are being practiced by executives of political nature.
Whistleblower, by all means, is an untruthfully gained title. It is not even gained. It is given.
It is a way for politicians to mark a danger that may afflict the machinery. With that mark, they ridicule the existence of the machinery; they mock humanity’s intelligence. With that mark, they underestimate the power of the people. We will not be subdued by them.
Chelsea, you have set the bar like others have done before you. For appearing a possible threat that could have harmed national security, they have sentenced and consequently imprisoned you.
In your case it is called Fort Leavenworth, to another it was called Robben Island (South Africa), to another Ekibastuz and Kok-Terek (former Soviet prison camps in Kazakhstan), or Yerwada jail (India) or Birmingham City Jail and Victoria Prison (Hong Kong).
Those others before you lived in a time when there were no whistleblowers. They believed in a purpose, an achievement, a truth, a philosophy, all with a purpose to unmask the world from its blindfold.
To let people see with their own eyes; the vision of the people is a tool of testifying for themselves to see the world in which they are living. The people must not live in darkness, though some may prefer to choose to live in such a way. People in the darkness feel safe and hidden.
Hiding from the light makes them feel secure from governmental accusations, unlawful confrontations or other things that people who live in the light are forced to face.
It is especially important to those of us who choose to live in the light, that the light itself prevails in order to gain accessibility to knowledge. This knowledge is something we can never get by ourselves; it is gained by the work of people who deliver them the light.
For us to achieve a greater majority we need those people in the darkness. But as contradictory as it is, psychoanalysis also proves that people in the light are hesitant to confront the injustice brought about by politicians and individuals in high-ranking places who supersede them and their thoughts.
Bound by orders, even those in the light do as they are told. They are bound by a hierarchy, filled with authorities that un-authorize any exposure of classified means or intelligence. You are just a human being. You are trying to live in this world. You are trying to survive.
You are trying to cope with the current conditions of the barracks, with the restrictions they brought upon you.
I have no sense or idea whatsoever what those restrictions are. How they reflect on you. How you deal with them. In what feeling you wake up. In what state of mind you are when you go to sleep. Not even the purest form of empathy allows me to comprehend what it must be like.
For Washington, it was very easy to lock you up, while for you it was very difficult.
News, both national and international, along with Social Media, is showing whatever the world gets to see. The benefit of Social Media is that people can expose whatever they feel they want to expose. We can share our opinions and, by doing so, exercise our right of free speech.
I myself do not support journalists or reporters individually, but I do support the ideals and importance of journalism, specifically investigative journalism. I trust in the virtuous journalist to righteously take the truth to the man and hurt politics where it needs hurting.
As you know, sometimes, some things need bleeding to heal again. You, intentionally or unintentionally, made Washington bleed where it should bleed and I hope they are learning from the pain.
Politicians tend to patch things up quickly, as you know, to cover up what has been done to them and continue their daily doctrine: restoring their version of the truth.
Air that slips through cracks tends to let people breathe, whereas usually, they are led elsewhere to breathe.
They are led to believe whatever chokes them is for their own good.
I assume that a Whistleblower-incident of the Manning-proportion is bound to happen here in The Netherlands. I, myself, have no faith in this government and all the governments that have preceded this one. When elections come, then they come. Not the people, but the politicians.
Wolves in sheep’s clothing, there is nothing more true that can be said about Dutch politicians.
One day there will come a rise, as there will come in every country. One day the people of the world will stand up and demand answers that free them from political confinement in a free world. The feeling of a free world is a decaying feeling. But then we have anarchy.
Instead of fighting other nations, we should fight the politicians. In a way that suits us: the humanitarian way, the right way, without bloodshed. All those wars fought, all those men and women who have died in combat…
Practicing politics should have the purpose of delivering solutions to the problems that politicians caused in the first place. War is not a solution, it is a means to an end. We should learn from the past, not fall into repetition.
The reason why I write you this letter, is because I am making a film titled We, Bradley Manning. It carries the tagline: there is a Bradley Manning in all of us.
Understand that the film is inspired from your story, but it is primarily based upon the people of the world.
It is me telling the world, that we should be more aware of what politicians are doing to us. And we should act on it when necessary. With urgency. Without hesitation. In a furious but reasonable way. In a democratic way. In a diplomatic way.
We, the people, reflecting to politicians the injustice that victimizes us.
The film is not propaganda, nor does it hurt us. It hurts only them. You have to understand, I am by heart and nature a pacifist. I have no desire for bloodshed or war. I hate fighting. But politicians make me, mostly a filmmaker, feel provoked.
That is why I make We, Bradley Manning, my second film. It is an all American film, shot on smartphones, and paid for out of my own pocket. It is set to be released in the Spring of 2015.
Regarding the gender-transformation, I respect you fully in that process. Politicians in The Netherlands excel non-conservatively in terms of this social domain. Gay marriage, for example, has been long ago accepted and now people can also choose another gender.
This transformation has to be approved by a professional therapist, afterwards they can do it. It is part of the freedom of choice.
As it should be. The title of the film was created, before you publicly chose to become Chelsea. I hope you don’t mind that I use your previous name. The film is an honorary, a tribute to your actions.
It took a very long time, but Frederic Chopin is very famous. The world cannot do without his music. It took the world a very long time, but they will always remember him. His music sets the tone, defines emotions, refines remembrances, and gives the world a score that shivers.
It makes the listener go back in time and also keeps their place here and now, and preserves thoughts for places in the future. Like Chopin, the same can be said for impressionists and authors and sculptors.
A lot of artists unconsciously fight the political system and have fought to get out of the constrained environment they lived in. A lot of them have gone, or been called insane. Others were thrown in jail.
Many have died silently, but their works are being preserved by conservators of today, so that their art is taken from the darkness and brought back into the light.
Similarly, they have locked you up, but they cannot silence you.
After 100 years, when we are no longer here anymore, your story will be told again. Be proud of that. You did something very brave. You did something very heroic. You are paying for it now; they make you stand in a corner and you are illegally forced to stand there for 35 years.
As for Chopin, I hope that his spirit is witnessing the beauty of his sound and how it still flourishes.
I also hope that those of Rembrandt and Mozart and Michelangelo do the same, as their work continues to illuminate the un-elaborated minds, the youthful minds, the adult minds, and, perhaps, a small portion of the political minds of our day.
They will remember you, Chelsea Manning, like they do Chopin. First they will remember Bradley Manning, but then, they will honor you as Chelsea Manning. Especially when the revolutions begin. There is definitely no question of that.
The revolutions will come. And the people will rise. And we are going to need the art.
And we are going to need the legacy you left us, that all people like you leave for us.
And you know, the funny thing of it all is this…
The world could be worse, especially if you look back on how it was 70-80 years ago. We do not live in medieval times anymore.
Somehow the politicians are grasping the meaning of accountability, sensibility and responsibility, but they lack the overall ability to actually say that they know what they are doing.
What they did to Leon Trotsky, or Walter Raleigh, they are now doing to you. Unlawful imprisonment.
I leave you with the words of Malcolm X, from May 5, 1962. Though it applied differently then than it does today, it certainly still applies now.
He said, “I think that you and I should continue to shock him by seeing and working together in unity, despite religious, political, economic, educational or social differences.”
And now, in 2014, you and I remain just that: We.
And the him is the politician.
It is ‘We, Bradley Manning’, that remain, to bring light to those that still live in the darkness.
With very best regards,
Let Freedom Ring
“To sin by silence, when we should protest, makes cowards of men.” ~ a quote by Ella Wheeler Wilcox used in Oliver Stone’s Platoon. It was that film that led Dennis Lamers into the world of art in his early twenties. Subsequently, but unconsciously, Wheeler Wilcox’s quote encapsulated him in the course of a decade in which the importance of people’s freedom ranked as his highest priority. He discovered, after attending a short time studying photography at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, that cinema to him personally would serve that importance. Dennis’ first film ‘In Search for Srebrenica’, and especially now in the making of his current film ‘We, Bradley Manning’, prove that filmmaking is his way to protest. You can learn more about Dennis’ films at his website and connect with him on Facebook.