My Aching Heart
My heart is aching. My heart is aching for men and women all over the world who have ever been asked to kill for their country or their god.
On every medium I chance upon these days, there is some message urging support of our troops. Or support of our veterans. Or telling me of the horrible things veterans endured for my freedom. Or urging me to send money, letters, packages to active duty soldiers.
I watch television (I know, that might just be my first mistake, right?), and I see war, and violence and the glorification of dying for a “cause”. Every time I do, I see painfully accurate portrayals of what I have seen in my life. I see “that look” in the eyes of a man who has had to kill and who must bury what he really felt in order to survive. I see stories similar to when a friend of mine, after being home from Vietnam for a number of years, could not contain his secret within himself any longer…he had to unburden having videoed himself, as a gunner on a helicopter, shooting the “enemy”. I see television shows and movies putting on little “morality” plays over and over, laying out before us the real damage done by asking a person to harm another…most recently in the show “Homeland”, where a main character is actually relieved to be released from the torture in his mind from the things his country asked him to commit, and this relief shows on his face as he is hung in a public square. They show us these things over and over, but all that seems to stick is that it is good to die for your country, or your cause…the personal results are yours, as an individual, to deal with.
Then I look around and I see the literally wounded in my community. I see the statistics of the number of soldiers of recent conflicts suffering from a myriad of mental and physical diseases. I see stories of ex military snapping. I see the statistics of homeless veterans. I hear from a man who recruits for the Houston Police Department that they rarely recruit military any more because they are too damaged and too violent. I witnessed, as a juror in traffic court, a young man so traumatized by his tours in Afghanistan that even watching the video of being ticketed by a police officer caused him to tremble and fight back his tears…and this while on antidepressant and anti anxiety medication!
Fast forward from other times, from past conflicts, and I see aging veterans with military bumper stickers identifying the branch of the military they served in, and wearing baseball hats emblazoned with the war they served in whilst in military service. They join lodges, they have reunions of those with similar experiences…and, of course, they have to do this, because how else can they “speak” of the things that torture them, except by not having to speak at all, because all surrounding them know exactly what they know. It is also who they identify themselves as being, as powerfully as they identify themselves as being father, husband, son or daughter.
The United States (indeed, the world!) has done a good job of indoctrination. They have created a “brotherhood” (and now sisterhood), that lasts a lifetime. This brotherhood, in our current world, with relationships of all kind being ripped asunder…parents from children, husband from wife, teachers not trusted any longer…having one thing, one brotherhood, they can count on, is immensely appealing. I get that. The military teaches so many things, like discipline, selflessness, loyalty, patriotism, duty,…and that most illusive of all things, how to keep your room clean! I get that it seems to be necessary these days, but why? How is it that this mystique has been built up so successfully around killing and death? How has it become honorable to kill and die for your country?
What have we done?! What have we done to the young that one of the main bonding arenas in this world is found in institutions that promote these things? Why are we willing to sacrifice our young for patriotism? or money? or land? or God?
Further, why would I even consider asking someone to die for my freedom to be against killing…if I am not willing to stand, unarmed, passively, and die for what I believe. In other words, how can I ask someone to defend what I believe, by doing that in which I do not believe?
Because we believe it is what God does. Because we believe it is what God asks of us. “Onward Christian Soldiers” and jihad, might makes right, and all of the similar things that have been placed into our consciousness from the time we were little.
These soldiers are not monsters! They do what they do because they sincerely and completely believe they are doing the honorable thing. In fact, they ARE honorable…but are they being honorably informed and motivated? I do not believe so.
I think that we can certainly find evidence of new forms of information available to us, guiding us to our inner knowing of killing one another for “honor” of any kind is not our true nature, but we all tend to gravitate to what we know…after we have been told what we believe. Which means, to me, that we must inform the informers that their information is, as CWG says, incomplete.
Support and love the veteran now that he/she has given their gift to you…but give them a gift in return. Go to your places of worship and question out loud how a merciful, all loving, God would ever ask anyone to die for It. Ask yourself, consciously, how harming your child in any way, could ever be what God would ask of you, or direct you to do. Go to your schools and question the history books. Become involved in Spiritual Politics, requiring your elected representatives to have a broad understanding of Oneness. Suggest to elected officials that soldiers can be of “service” in many more ways than those requiring killing…natural disaster relief comes to mind.
Why? How is this your gift for their service? It is your gift, because you will refuse to ask their children to die.
I read an article recently about a pilot who, many years after his plane was shot down, met the man who shot him down. He ends the story of this reunion with this:
“There’s so much misunderstanding in the world resulting in unnecessary sorrow. Having…—a positive, joyful family—in my life has altered my perspective. It may sound trite, but if only there were a way for all the religious, cultural, and ethnic groups of the world to meet and get to know one another in a meaningful way—the way (he) and I have—how could we ever go to war again?”
Good question…how could we? Why do we? When will we give men and women something better to identify with for a lifetime?
(Therese Wilson is a published poet, and is the administrator of, and Spiritual Helper at, the global website at www.cwghelpingoutreach.com She may be contacted at: Therese@TheGlobalConversation.com.)