Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Moral injuries, our vets' latest open wounds

     I understand that, in times of war, soldiers might sometimes get their legs blown off -- but did you know that soldiers can sometimes get their souls blown to bits as well?  And that sometimes it can hurt as badly as any open wound to the body?  Yes, this is actually true.  http://jpstillwater.blogspot.com/2016/06/home-soldier.html

     Recently I attended a talk by Marine chaplain Fred Tittle.  His subject was "Moral Injury" and apparently he now sees a lot of that kind of suffering at the VA clinic where he works.

     Here's what Google says about it:  "Moral injury is now being recognized as a signature wound of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but with roots as old as war itself.  Veterans who have participated in or witnessed intense human suffering and violence may experience moral injury which extends beyond psychological effects to a veteran’s spiritual, emotional, and social belief system.  This has a major impact on veterans’ mental health and their interactions with loved ones, community, and service providers."

     Apparently places like Mai Lai, Abu Graib, Haditha and Bagram are as bad for the souls of our soldiers as IEDs are for their bodies.  Power may corrupt -- but fighting in an immoral "war" corrupts one's soul absolutely.  http://ericmargolis.com/2016/07/send-our-war-criminals-to-the-hague-court/

     When Bush lied through his teeth in order to destroy Iraq and Afghanistan, he forced a moral injury down the throats of America's soldiers as well.  When Obama lied through his teeth in order to destroy Ukraine, Libya and Syria, he too forced moral injuries down the throats of America's soldiers.  And now those same soldiers, having now returned home as vets, are suffering deeply for these leaders' gross abuse of their powers.  

    What to do about it?  How about saying, "Never again!" and finally putting an end to gross and immoral "wars".  That's a start.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/war/just/what.shtml

PS:  Let's also consider moral injuries on a larger scale.  Did Eichmann suffer a moral injury when he ran his Nazi concentration camps?  Does Netanyahu suffer a moral injury when he sends young Israelis to kill women and children in Occupied Palestine?  Did Clinton suffer a moral injury when she came, she saw, he died?  And did that Roman soldier suffer a moral injury when he stabbed Jesus with his spear?  And what about  the corporations who pollute our air -- because they are legally "persons" too -- will they suffer moral injuries as well?

    If you are a cold-hearted bastard and do evil deeds, are you committing a moral injury to yourself?  Or is it only a moral injury to those under you, the ones who are forced to carry out all this evil?  And is "I was only following orders" really a valid excuse for landing a mortal blow to your soul?

      And when the entire human race is extinct due to "war" and pollution caused by "war," will it be too late for anyone to suffer a moral injury?

PPS:  Veterans for Peace is holding its national convention in Berkeley, CA this year.  Oliver Stone and Helen Caldicott will be speaking.  Be there or be square?  Be there -- and be in the ranks of some of the most moral people in the world.  http://www.vfpnationalconvention.org/