They called him el chiquito que amaba el mundo: the little boy who loved the world. The native Panamanians of Escobal and Cuipo saw not the wretched direction Dan's life would take, but only the open-heartedness of a little boy who would one day conquer his depravity.
Dan Rojas's childhood was unstable, having been admitted to seven mental hospitals before puberty. This is largely due to the pharmaceutical industry's diagnosing fetish fueled by its profit margins. By the age of nine, Dan was diagnosed with oppositional defiance disorder (ODD), bipolar disorder, and depression. These were all incorrect diagnoses for disorders Dan did not have and was heavily medicated for each. His parents attempted to intervene but social services' implicit threats to take more than just him, but his three siblings as well, barred them from taking action. For the majority of his childhood, Dan was forced to take pills at dosages equivalent to a lobotomy. Dan's resentment of the system responsible for his chemically imprisoned upbringing is justified.
In adolescence, Dan was given a corrected diagnosis of attention deficit disorder (ADD). This enabled him to break free form the false labels nailed to him by the penny per prescription model of current psychiatric practice, in which a dog can be prescribed Xanax. For the first time in a long time Dan could feel his soul breathe, he was living again, but not without a price, the demons of his childhood came to collect. With crippled empathy and a growing inferiority complex, juvenile delinquency was the perfect avenue for his vindictive outrage. Ignorantly, Dan took to drugs and drinking by 16 to soothe his crumbling frame of mind. The first pattern of alcoholism bloomed. Dan saw a bleak future, a wasted life he couldn't turn from, and pursued the Army in hopes of escape.
To enlist, the Army entry standards required Dan be off any ADD medication for two years before enlistment. During his Junior and Senior year, without the help of his ADD medication and his prideful refusal to utilize his individual education plan (IEP), Dan's grades suffered. Despite the threat of not graduating he refused to "give in" to the system and did not apply himself. To him, high school was a direct extension of his childhood's chemical prison and he foolishly rejected everything it had to offer. Although barely, Dan managed to graduate. To him this was a success - he beat the odds and, as planned, he enlisted.
Dan opted for an airborne infantry contract. A few months prior to the ship-date, Dan blacked out at a party and awoke the morning after with a concussion, shattered bones, a complete fracture to his right mandible, and other minor traumas. His airborne infantry contract expired in the six months he took to recover after the facial reconstruction surgery. Dan signed a new contract with the Army as a healthcare specialist.
Dan graduated basic training and advanced individual training (AIT) with distinction, but the remainder of his short military career was served in distaste to both him and his superiors. His arrogance, drinking, and characterless dishonesty are what define his military "service." He was discharged for failure to rehabilitate, and all too late, Dan realized he was an alcoholic.
The following three years, Dan struggled with sobriety as he attempted to form a new life back home with his mother and younger brother. Although relapsing many times, Dan strove for growth. The path was barbed and riddled with missteps; he hurt and betrayed many during this period of life. But hope was not lost. Dan's life for the better began with a book, The Ego and the Id.
Dan was indignant that a book, written nearly a century prior, understood him better than the lot of his childhood psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers. But Dan felt the social injustices of his life were just side effects of something deeper - but of what? In his search to answer this question, Dan became convinced of the United States Education System's corruption, and its push to create, an uneducated, impoverished, slave wage working class. Disillusioned, Dan saw America critically for the first time. He needed more knowledge and dove headfirst into Freud and his contemporaries. With a foundation in theoretical psychodynamics, Dan preferred the Neo-Freudian humanist outlook and continued exploring other theoretical fields for truth and clarity. Dan's research opened his mind and, slowly, his heart followed.
From this pursuit, Dan read three works that radically changed his life: Eric Fromm's Art of Loving, Paul Tillich's Dynamics of Faith, and Martin Buber's I and Thou (Kaufmann translation). These works helped Dan look at his past, present, and future in a deeply critical manner and helped Dan concretized his first major moral summit since his pitfall with alcoholism. It is because of these works that Dan's faith in humanity and in himself was restored. At long last, hard fought and hard won, Dan had reclaimed his will to meaning.
Dan is a survivor of a morally fraudulent system and a survivor of one overdose and five suicide attempts. Of these life threatening events, two would have been fatal if not for the rapid interventions of his sister. Yet, for all that has happened, Dan was, and is, more than a helpless victim. He could have made the best of what he had, but Dan chose bitterness, anger, and blame over love - video meliora proboque deteriora sequor: I see and approve of the better but choose the worse.
Without morals, ethics, or principles, Dan Rojas committed acts of cruelty and hatred. He introduced drugs to people that helped ruin their lives. He took love and used it against those whom he loved. Dan betrayed best friends and sold out family. Dan was a misogynist and a xenophobe. Dan judged people for immutable characteristics and was cruel to them. He embodied all these things before his 25th birthday, and will remain, for the rest of his life a battling alcoholic.
This is Dan's greatest shame: this vile history is him at his worst and he owns it. Dan is confident in his re-humanization and he shares these low truths so that others, who may not know their way through the fog, can see a beacon home: the home of accepting the wretched imminence of one's past and stepping out from the shadows back into the light. This is his confession, his apology, and his penance.
Dan writes to show change is possible, even for monsters, and redemption is how the ignoble, nobly live.