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America's War Veterans: PTSD and its CureLetter to Editor By Zahir Ebrahim for Salem-News.com
If the suffering veterans of America can forge a movement to loudly say NO to the vile indignities being heaped upon us right here at home in the land of the free, they can make a difference to their own healing.
(LOS ANGELES) - The two American websites, Veterans Today and Salem News, run by two former US Military veterans, contain some of the most outstanding RealitySpeak writings by both civilians and America's war veterans, presumably, all mostly being eagerly ingested by other American war veterans. In full disclosure, these websites also reprint my two cents every now and then. The Editors in chief of both websites whom I have never met but communicate with occasionally, very generously invited me to become Staff Writer on their respective panels, and I politely declined in each case. I prefer my lonely voice to stay independent – for it allows me to explore my own confusions as no one else can.
So, exercising that independence of thought, if I may be permitted to ask the next logical question to great penmanship and reportage by recovering war veterans, does such RealitySpeak affect a change in status quo?
Does all this verbiage ameliorate the suffering of the bemedaled American war hero who brought my fellow Muslim men, women, and children of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, perhaps Iran next, the 'liberation' depicted in the images?
Do the oft maligned liberators of truth from the sharp jaws of deceit, ever impact the inflexion of hegemonic power with mere moral words and intellectual theses which unravel the never ending lies of the hectoring hegemons du jour?
For, if words alone could make appreciable difference to the calculus of hegemony, then, the Ten Commandments would have surely eased mankind's journey over the past hundred years of successive world wars and vile deprecation of humanity. As the noted essayist and novelist Aldous Huxley had once observed when responding to the question “What does one do?”:
'Well this is the real problem. Nothing is easier than to formulate high ideals, but few things are more difficult than to discover the means for by those ideals might be implemented, and the categorical imperatives which spring from them can be a pain. This is the real problem. I mean one has to dream, but one has to dream in a pragmatic way to consider how... Merely preaching to people doesn't have much effect, people have been preaching for an awefully long time and we are still pretty much where we were.' (Herman Harvey: Sum and Substance with Aldous Huxley, co-produced with University of S. California, KNXT Public Affairs. http://www.huxley.net/ah/huxley-interview.html )
The undeniable practical fact of the matter remains, that unless moral prescriptions and copious intelligent analyses appearing on these websites get translated into direct activism, into building organizations, into building movements, and into creating a powerful national chorus collectively saying NO to the murdersome hectoring hegemons now bringing vile indignities to the American people right here at home, elegant moral words on paper, wonderful prose bringing exposes to the intelligent, is only self-entertaining the armchair internet warriors.
In all honesty, haven't we, the narrators du jour, merely substituted the mind numbing television, America's favorite sedative, with a new type of cognitive programming for a minuscule sub-minority who indulges in study, but which remains as impotent in mobilizing the conscience to act in order to affect change, as the former medium was effective in amusing us to death? The “history's actors” in fact even brazenly noted that this is all we shall be able to do. The New York Times quoted a senior White House Advisor during the Bush Administration while explaining how fait accompli enacted by “history's actors” actually worked for “imperial mobilization”:
‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.’ — Senior Bush Advisor, The New York Times, October 17, 2004 (see Convince People of Absurdities and get them Acquiescing to Atrocities: The Enduring Power of Machiavellian Political Science )
I say, bullshit! Let's grasp the bull by the horns and turn the tables on its head for the criminals who, with cold chutzpah and flushed with hubris, openly proclaim themselves 'Hectoring Hegemons' working on ending national-sovereignty through successive hegelian mind-fcks!
But in order to do so, one must first have the courage to spell bullshit as B.U.L.L.S.H.I.T, without dropping any letters to pass our delicate sensibilities which can shatter the tabula rasa of civilian populations 20,000 miles from home, but can't handle seeing RealitySpeak in print. This, in case it isn't already obvious, is merely a metaphor for first being able to face reality without syntactic sugaring. What follows is plain RealitySpeak – no bullshit. While you don't have to agree with anything here, there is no Newspeak in it. For, only in straight plain talk without bowing to political correctness, is there a way out of being mere narrators of the murderous shit continually being left behind by 'history's actors'.
I believe that the brave veterans of America's wars upon the 'untermensch' 20,000 miles away, the principal audience of both these websites I imagine, can actually play a leading role in helping to change that dismal state of affairs.
By rising to protect their own nation's peoples for a change, where, while they were busy bringing 'democracy' and 'liberation' to my 'barbarian' peoples in exotic faraway lands, their own land of the free was being turned into a police-state.
Instead of the increasing number of war veterans being perpetually trapped in PTSD and seeking palliatives to assuage their guilty conscience, 'VA says PTSD claims up 125%' Veterans Today, December 18, 2010, undertaking principled moral acts with discipline to safeguard the decent peoples in their own nation, may prove to be far more therapeutic than the Marijuana being pitched by experts like Dr. Phil Leveque, as in 'You Can't Go Back and You Can't Come Back', Salem News, December 13, 2010.
The 1980s Hollywood movie, The Deer Hunter, graphically brought home to civilians a vicarious touch of what soldiers of patriotism, fortune, and economic conscription, can experience in horrendous modern wars that are principally illegitimate, whose principal victims are civilians, cultures, and civilizations. Those creating the victims often end up with the guilt complex which modern soulless medicine, unable to comprehend the delicate connection between mind-body-spirit and the damage which wars cause to man's essence, calls its symptomatic display PTSD. The psycho-babble of the learned, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, in the case of wars, is primarily symptomatic of the injury to the conscience, to the soul, which perpetually remains un-amenable to brain surgery, to palliatives, to sedatives, to psycho-therapy, and to modern medicine. The Deer Hunter's main focus, if the reader will recall, was primarily to demonstrate the consequences of the horrendous dysfunctionalism of modern warfare causing maladjustment back into normalcy for both victims and victimizers, the latter becoming war's second victims. Therefore, for them to not astutely comprehend that modern warfare by superpowers moving pawns around on the Grand Chessboard is itself a monumental crime, a racket, and those participating in it as soldiers and technicians under waving flags and blaring trumpets, themselves commit crimes against humanity, is to miss the point of it all.
Call the suffering of the conscience from that backlash PTSD if you will, but being able to separate cause from effect, symptoms from disease, doesn't seem to be a forte of Veterans Hospitals. And while that symptom is captured most precisely, most elegantly, almost poetically, in the aforementioned article title by Phil Leveque, “You Can't Go Back and You Can't Come Back”, it does nothing to focus attention on the primary cause of it: the injury to the 'self', the essence of man, what, for the lack of a better terminology, we variously refer to as conscience, soul, superego, all elements which remain elusive to modern medicine. Ask any AMA approved medical doctor for any alternative to big-Pharma led prescriptions, and they will only give you the same standard response they have actually been taught to give in medical school in order to pass their AMA certification – I don't know anything about alternatives not recommended by the FDA.
But just as the Hollywood movie had left its audience hanging, had offered no real solutions for the returning veterans, nor for preventing the creation of future maladjusted veterans, neither does Phil Leveque with his prescriptive conclusion in bold: “WHY CAN‘T THE VA USE THE BEST DRUG – MARIJUANA?” When the illness is misdiagnosed, the cure can at best only be a placebo.
Please permit me to lend some Eastern Zen here – for, Western experts have sufficiently ruined this nation, and the world, to warrant any faith in their diagnosis and their prescriptions.
First, let's try to understand how the war veteran got to the stage of PTSD in the first place.
For the reader's orientation, please permit me to coldly state that I am that 'untermensch' upon whose civilizations the proud, the brave, the bold veterans of America and its Allies waged their boundless courage 20,000 miles away from their own home, in whose homes they slaughtered our children calling it collateral damage just as the CIA's hit team started arriving in Afghanistan courageously proclaiming: “We will export death and violence to the four corners of the earth in defense of our great nation.” (Bob Woodward in Bush at War).
You, dear veteran, could have shown a different kind of courage too at that time and avoided the injury to your soul altogether. Instead of signing up to bravely rain Daisy Cutters and cruise missiles upon barefooted children, upon cities, upon civilian infrastructures, upon wedding parties, upon defenseless men, women, and children, and continually be fearing that hypothetical day when a future Nuremberg might administer you the same victor's justice as your nation routinely administers to the vanquished, you could have signed up to say NO to immoral conquests of your ruling elite. You could have signed up to say NO to economic conscription and found other ways to fund your college education, other ways to earn your livelihood. And you could have used the tiny gray matter to see through the facade of false patriotism, of inculcated false beliefs, of false flag operations, of false enemies, of falsely identified culprits, of “imperial mobilization” disguised as “war on terror”.
Just like one among you had done, not too long ago, sparing himself the moral scar tissue you find yourselves saddled with today as its new victims. This is what this courageous fellow had found the nerve to state then:
'Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.' (Redemption Song: Muhammad Ali and the Spirit of the Sixties (1999) by Mike Marqusee, quoted from Wikipedia page on Muhammad Ali)
You could have done the same thing, no?
Yet, you didn't.
You took that uncourageous path of accepting to shoot at my 'untermensch' peoples because your leaders ordered you to do so. Your blind deeds borne of “I was just following orders” have made you your own victims. Don't think that only you know in the privacy of your anguish how horrendous some of these crimes were. The victims know too, both the dead ones for whom the war and misery has ended, and the living for whom it is never ending. You think your suffering from PTSD is painful? Ask those whose tabula rasa you have shattered while “following orders”. And though silently and apathetically spectating, the world spectators aren't blind either. The veterans suffers only in a glass cage that appears opaque to them in the hell of their private shame. But it is only a one-way mirror, entirely transparent from the other side.
Unless you can squarely face up to that grotesque fact without self-delusions and false justifications, that you have monumentally wronged the 'lesser peoples' while slumbering under your patriotic zeal and implanted false beliefs, the redemption will remain illusive.
But that private suffering, I believe, is also a mercy upon man – for within it also lies the only seed of positive redemption. This aspect is very important to comprehend fully. It is not theological gibberish of religious salvation which I expound here (I leave that to the priests), but empirical psych-physiology of what makes us a human being. In its clarity, lies the practicable solution-space. Both for suffering veterans of today, and for preventing future suffering veterans of tomorrow.
So please permit me to explain at length, for indeed, no leader glibly sending America's kids off to perpetual wars, no MD serving in empire's own imperial institutions under AMA and FDA guidelines to stick to their officially mandated medical protocols or lose the license to practice medicine, and no priest carrying empire's renewed white man's burden to bring us 'untermenschen' their 'Jesus' (watch video http://youtube.com/watch?v=hVGmbzDLq5c ) will explain the following commonsense.
Only if man has a conscience, a soul, that he naturally suffers when he indulges in horrendous crimes, what modern soulless medicine calls PTSD. Just think, if we had no conscience, there would be no mental anguish, and thus no psychological traumas!
The proof of this straightforward observation is to simply ask the empirical question: do we ever observe the mighty generals and noble presidents, who, under orders from their own task-masters, destroy entire nations and civilizations before being awarded Nobel Peace Prizes for their peace-making, suffering from PTSD? No. They are never known to walk the night lamenting: “All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand”, and die rather “holily in their beds.” (MacBeth). That is because they have no conscience, they have no 'soul'. This pathology, more aptly termed pathocracy, is not just Zen-babble or Shakespearean theater. It is now even clinically coming to the surface. See the book Political Ponerology: A Science on The Nature of Evil adjusted for Political Purposes by Andrew M. Lobaczewski ( http://ponerology.com ).
While the rest of us may suffer from the “banality of evil” whose only known cure is moral courage and moral redemption, the psychopath is observed to be suffering from some yet to be precisely identified structural abnormality which makes him and her completely impervious to feeling empathy. He and she is evidently either born without a conscience (or, some how had it killed off in unrecoverable ways in rituals and rites peculiar to the elite who send ordinary men and women to the slaughter without batting an eye). This creature appears as normal person to us, lives and moves among us as a normal person, but inevitably always seems to rather uncannily end up in ranking leadership positions where it easily makes immoral decisions for narrow interests without compunction and remorse. He and she experiences no more cognitive dissonance ordering an atomic bomb dropped, than ordering a rendition flight, or sentencing a frail Aafia Siddiqui to 86 years in jail. Whereas, the evil normal people face, both you and I, was aptly captured by Hannah Arendt by that term “Banality of Evil” when trying to comprehend how the Good German was created in Nazi Germany.
Hannah Arendt arrived at the conclusion that it was a combination of lack of moral courage, easily succumbing to authority figures by one's nature, through sustained indoctrinations to obey authority, and due to the blind allegiance to discharging one's duties without reflecting upon the consequences of those duties. The 'banality', ordinariness of individual evils, added up suddenly becomes extraordinary in its proportion and consequences. This is the exact same description of how the Good American has been created today for which, you are now paying the price of PTSD due to all that red blood of my peoples upon your hands.
No? Yes! Read it here to see it from the eyes of one upon whose Muslim civilizations, your patriotic munificence was so courageously unleashed by the cumulative “banality of evil”.
We, the ordinary peoples, who often become canon fodder for pathocrats, have a conscience, we are not psychopaths. We may however become so if we continue to suffer and continue to inflict suffering upon others to the point that physiological changes in our bodies irreversibly kill off those brain structures where empathy springs from, where conscience resides, where, in Freudian terms, the superego keeps our id and ego in check. But short of becoming a psychopath, there is a moral path of redemption available to all of us which isn't available to the pathocrats who send us to our death smiling. Who never suffer from PTSD.
So, what is the cure for this tortuous scarring of the moral psyche of normal persons which modern medicine calls PTSD? What is the path of redemption? Permit me to share our Eastern wisdom, our ancient medicine, our redemptive therapy, something that adventurers coming to bomb and rob us somehow conveniently fail to carry back with them to their own civilization along with their plunder and their mental scars. The cure is not in physical therapy, it is not in confessionals in priest boxes, and it is not on a psychiatrist's couch, nor in going back into childhood to find and kill-off old demons, real and imagined. The damage caused to the spiritual essence of man for enduring horrendous moral crimes, only the spiritual resurgence can cure. That is what modern medicine cannot give you because there is no profit in it for big-Pharma. Nor is it in the interest of the war-mongers to have their VA hospitals advocate spiritual resurgence – the kind I describe below – for they must have a continuous supply of new recruits of patriotic and economic conscriptions as canon fodder to fight their perpetual wars.
Moral or spiritual redemption is only possible in undertaking moral acts, not in mere words, but in courageous endeavors which go beyond the normal existence, just as the cataclysms which created PTSD went beyond the normal existence. Acts which border on heroism, and which permit us to rise to our better-selves primarily in the service of those whom we have injured by both commissions, and omissions. Only such redemptive acts can assuage our guilt sufficiently to enable atoning for our earlier moral lapses. In certain societies, perhaps still today, judges would sometimes award the guilty a punishment of such a type, to go humbly serve the family of those whom they have injured, whose bread-winners they killed. When implemented properly, it helped heal both the victim, and most interestingly, also the victimizer. Not too profound when one thinks about it, is it?
Those who have undertaken such strivings, ask them their experiences. I imagine that asking Ken O'Keefe for instance, the man who is off in Gaza braving bullets whizzing by his head, bullets which he once himself inflicted upon the 'untermensch' in whose defense he now braves it with empty hands, might be an interesting exercise for America's veterans.
Not only can the veterans help heal themselves with such courageous efforts undertaken with direct moral acts in their own nation, but they can even help prevent future veterans from coming into existence by leading conscientious objector movements across their nation, teaching and warning the youngsters often enlisting as victims of economic conscription and state propaganda, the very words and analyses available on these stellar websites.
If each suffering veteran of America can prevent just one new future suffering veteran from being created, the healing efficacy of their moral strivings will be nothing short of miraculous! Just imagine when they can prevent ten?
If the suffering veterans of America can forge a movement to loudly say NO to the vile indignities being heaped upon us right here at home in the land of the free, they can make a difference to their own healing.
Here is the most recent grotesque example of what we all face: Boy Asks TSA ‘Why Pat Down Mom And Not Me?’, TSA Replies “You Don’t Have Boobs”.
Saying NO to invasive body scans at airports, and saying NO to humiliating patdowns as well, and drawing media and public attention to those bold NOs can even galvanize the public to do the same, and to join forces with you to reclaim your nation from the rapidly closing jaws of a police-state. If servicemen remain unaware of the real agenda behind these vile physical gropings of America's men, women, and children, as is amply evidenced by the blind compliance of the active duty American soldier going through an American airport in uniform carrying an automatic weapon – a narrative which appeared in Veterans Today and which drove me up the wall that someone can so courageously shoot at barefooted people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, but can't say NO to absurdities in his own country – see my article 'Body-scan Alert - Not Suffering Indignities at Airports'. Will that soldier also only acquire his moralsense under PTSD once he is a veteran? Isn't there something grotesquely wrong with that picture?
A single dose of resonating moral NOs across the land of the free will prove to be far more therapeutic to the veterans of America than a 1000 psychedelic joints of Dr. Phil Leveque's prescription which he simultaneously avers: “My subject matter is that whatever the degree of PTSD/TBI the condition is almost permanent.” And thus, by his own admission, asserts all ingestive medicines being ineffective.
Can you, the veterans of America who have finally woken up, kindly give an active think to this prescription?
How can you, the equally discarded victims of America's wars of hegemony, elevate your metanoia, your new found awareness of how you were sent off to fight for the narrow interests of an elite hell-bent on destroying your own nation – all amply demonstrated by the stellar writings and beautiful words appearing on Veterans Today and Salem News – into principled coordinated moral acts which can reverse the grotesque police-state transpiring in your own nation right now? And by so doing, help avert a global catastrophe, a planned Armageddon upon the remaining 'untermenschen'! That is an unparalleled healing path, unmatched by modern medicine as well as natural sedatives.
If I, a mere civilian mouse, a foreigner in the United States pursuing his 'American Dream' like everyone else, can say NO to state tyranny – read it here – and I scare just as easily as any other mouse, have a family, have aspirations, have passions, have no history of maladjustment except by choice since 911 when I consciously chose to become a malcontent (in H. G. Wells' words) and maladjusted (in Martin Luther King Jr.'s words) because there was simply no other choice (read it here and here); if this disabled wheelchair bound young man protesting state tyranny in the streets of London can say NO – watch it at http://youtube.com/watch?v=ZL4eL0sLzKU – and he is suffering from cerebral palsy; is there some very good reason why the hurly-burly American veterans of wars' brutalities should continue to comply with tyrannical absurdities which are destroying their own nation-state? I believe this is where the certificate of everlasting virtue from the Veterans Administration comes in handy. But, if the war veteran, you, boldly rise beyond such certificates, if you rise beyond the mere psychedelic words you read on paper which always look good in print and in speeches, if you instead stand alongside the very 'untermensch' whom you once oppressed, serve the victim families from Afghanistan to Iraq whose bread-winners you once destroyed with a humility you were never acquainted with as a US marine, stand-up for your own nation's peoples suffering under the jackboots of the same tyrants who caused you to suffer PTSD in immoral imperial mobilizations deceptively sold to you as preemptive war on terror in defense of your nation, your yesterday becomes a mere prologue, the rest of your life, finally your own.
Zahir Ebrahim | Project Humanbeingsfirst.org
California, United States
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