Moral Health #3

Conscience After War – Moral Reintegration

  •  Moral injury and pain are communal afflictions, not merely individual.
    • Don’t make vets casualties of war by letting them become trapped by the experience thereof. Silence is not an option; it is a betrayal.
      • Communities must transfer the moral weight from “me” to “us”
      • Affirm the experience (if they approve or disapprove) as must the vet: “I had this experience, and I accept it.” (Tick, p.255)
    • Communities must acknowledge their complicity, shared with those in whose name they acted
    • Moral isolation is the enemy; it robs the war experience of constructive value and meaning (or violation of meaning). Nihilism leads to suicide, not guilt (“It don’t mean nothing”)
      • Vets must be listened to actively. Social Media is a no-go: vet must be able to observe bodily and/or verbal response
  • Veterans must be able to distinguish the good they did from the temporary evil in which they partook.
    • Healing must include an acknowledgement of sin. Idea of “the good war” belies the experience of many vets, it leaves zero space for mourning and penance
    • Reconsider “Thanking” vets; we asked them to perform some level of evil in order to restrain or overcome a greater evil. We must mourn our resort to the “necessary evil” of war and allow them to as well
    • God has not abandoned them any more than he did Christ on the cross. With God’s help you can take them back from hell
  • Mahedy:   Avoidance techniques are mastered in war, now they must be unlearned. You can prevent memories from dominating the minds of those who suffer; “you learn to live with the ghosts of war”
    • Remember, Recount, Confront, & Reinterpret (p.106). NOT re-live
  • Tick: ‘What was once a wound becomes instead a story.’ (p.198) Stories can heal, inform, and rebuild. Wounds can fester and infect. Rituals must reshape identity in a way that affirms the tragedy alongside the beauty (p.273)
    • All rituals need to be: Safe, Communal, & Sacred
    • Tick suggests the following paradigm;
      • Purification & Cleansing (penance?): ch.12
      • Story Telling (confession?) ch.13
      • Restitution to the Family: ch.14
      • Initiation as a Warrior: ch.15 (like Marlantes’ ‘The Club’)
  • Marlantes: “The war has to be integrated, the horror absorbed, the psyche stretched, to accommodate the trauma.” (p,205)
    • Require counseling, maybe it’ll remove the stigma
    • Ceremonies of significance;
      • Ritualize discharge as much as we do enlistment
      • Parades are ok, but must be solemn, not celebratory (i.e. rifles faced down, the sword symbolically returned to its sheath)
    • “Grief itself is a healthy response.” (p.47) What we do with guilt can be unhealthy: Absolution? Or alcohol? Guilt provokes us to act, nihilism suggests that the chaos of war is the inescapable chaos of life itself.
  • Biblical models
    • Job – post-trauma spiritual quest w/in a community (Mahedy, p.165)
      • friends tried to negate Job’s interpretation, could not tolerate responding to God (and society) with indignation. Friends must not attempt to overwrite vets’ diagnosis, even their cynicism. Sit shiva, listen, suffer with vets (“compassion”)
    • Jubilee (Lev. 25; Heb. deror, Gr. aphesis – “salvation”) model for release from vows/oaths made. Vets must release themselves, & communities must foster this release. Let go and move on with life. Another world waits for them, and Church waits within that world
      • Three functions of Jubilee: release from debt, freeing of slaves, return to homeland
      • Religious establishment feared the implementation of Jubilee, as it would disrupt the entire system. Today, the civil-religious establishment fears what might happen for vets to be released from their own kind of slavery, to return home, to “obey God rather than [the officers appointed above them]” (Acts 5:29)

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