Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sharing War's Burden


We need modern rituals to heal our wounded warriors

From the page: "Our troops do not enlist because they want to destroy or kill. No matter the political climate, most troops seek to serve traditional warrior values: to protect the country they love, its ideals, and especially their families, communities, and each other. In my work counseling veterans of several wars, I've seen that PTSD is, in part, the tortured conscience of good people who did their best under conditions that would dehumanize anyone."


A comment from Dave:

" Brothers and sisters,

I relate to this article and the perspective it illuminates; very strongly
and so I beg your indulgence as I offer a personal observation.

A few years ago I was at a classical music festival. One evening is
reserved for music other than that of "old, dead white guys" (unfair, I
know) and is held outdoors in a beautiful setting in NE Oklahoma. That year
a
performance by a group of men from several of the local First Nations was
featured. They
performed a series of traditional songs from their various traditions:
Delaware, Cherokee, Choctaw among them. Then the sing leader called for all
veterans in the audience to come forward.

Slowly, very slowly, men stood and walked down to the performance area. We
were invited to join the circle, standing behind the performers. They then
performed a song in tribute to the warrior; the drum beat close to a 70 per
minute pulse rate.

Among strangers I felt, for the first time since returning from Viet Nam in
1970, a sincere "welcome home" - made real by obvious understanding. They
were no longer strangers to me,
though I never learned the names of but a couple of the singers. Writing
these words and remembering the experience brings tears and a feeling hard
to describe, but one I cherish among my most precious.

The book, "Ceremony" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leslie_Marmon_Silko)
explores this theme through the experiences of a survivor of the Bataan
Death March. The man was Dine, from the Four Corners region and he overcame
his PTSD and estrangement from the world by finding his healing path, or
way. For those interested in this topic, I urge you to read this
extraordinary book.

James Bradley explores the corruption of a traditional warrior society and
the
catastrophic results in "Flyboy". In my review of that book in The Veteran,
I touched on that aspect of this surprising book
(http://www.vvaw.org/veteran/article/?id=733&hilite=flyboys).

I have come to believe the erosion of the traditional warrior role in
society was a prerequisite for industrialized warfare and all that has meant
in the last 200 years.

Honor the warrior, not the war.

Dave Collins
Texas Hill Country contact

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