A confluence of topics dealing with mental health, substance abuse, health, public health, Social Work, education, politics, the humanities, and spirituality at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. In short, this blog is devoted to the improvment of the quality of life of human beings in the universe.
I work with adolescents as part of my general practice and in the last couple of months I have had 3 or 4 young people say that they are thinking about joining the military. As a therapist I am ethically bound not to let my personal values interfere with my client's right to self determination, but I want to tell them about the high rates of PTSD, substance abuse, rape, and suicide among the military.
The military trains people to kill often civilian populations which goes against our human instinct to preserve life. The United States government has been involved in my lifetime in immoral wars that the Popes and other religious leaders have declared immoral. The moral and ethical conflicts which participating in the military places young people in can be soul damaging.
I wish young people were better informed. I wish they were not so naive and innocent. I wish they were not so gullible and susceptible to recruiting propaganda. In my professional role it is not appropriate for me to do counter recruiting, but in my private life I share my thought and values where appropriate.
Is it mentally healthy for 17, 18, 19 year old kids to sign up for the military to be trained to kill? I have my doubts. That's why so many of our soldiers are on anti-depressants and wind up with life long psychiatric disabilities. I watched my generation go through this and now a whole new generation in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
This article is the first in a series of articles I will be posting on this blog categorized as "militarism".
Army of None, Counter Recruitment, Olympia Washington. Video lasts 4:29
It was on this day, August 6th, �in 1945 that the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The United States is the only nation in the world that has ever used an atomic bomb in combat against an enemy. It is debatable whether the use of the Atomic bomb saved lives and accelerated the end of World War II. It certainly brought a new level of awareness of what human beings are capable of.
As a young person in the 50s we went through the exercise of "duck and cover" hiding under our desks in drills as if this would save us from death by an atomic bomb. Looking back now, the fact that adults instilled such fear in young people for no good reason almost seems abusive. We have a long way as a species to mature into the creatures that God created us to be.
Here is a video which lasts 3:56 about the naivete of the times. I wonder if "duck and cover" would have saved our fellow human beings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
While the corporate evening news broadcasts about the latest antics of Brittany, and Angelina and Brad's new twins, our country is going down the tube. It is interesting that you have to go to YouTube to have some of the dots connected. The Sludge Report lasts 4:42 and worth watching.
This is an essay I have wanted to write for some time, but have never felt confident that I had the words to accurately express my thoughts and feelings. I have looked for other authors who could state the ideas more clearly and succinctly than I can, but having found none, I have decided to take the risk and try to express the idea myself.
On this memorial day, I have a great deal of difficulty honoring and paying tribute to people who have engaged in immoral, unethical, and perhaps even criminal behavior. I am talking about soldiers who willingly and readily engaged in the killing in the immoral wars in Viet Nam and Iraq. Participating in the immoral wars of empire is not an honorable or moral activity. The defense that the soldier is “only doing their job”, and “just following orders” is the same as the German soldiers who transported the Jewish people and manned the crematoriums during the Holocaust. This defense was judged to be inadequate in the Nuremberg trials after World War II and it is not adequate for our soldiers immoral activity in a war of imperial conquest now.
There are courageous and heroic people who objected to the criminal activity and said “Hell no, I won’t go!”, and who rejected further service. I call these soldiers, “Soldiers of conscience” because they have reflected on the activities they were being ordered to participate in and judged them immoral and objectionable and at great personal sacrifice said so and refused to participate. They're people of conscience I admire, honor, and respect and yet the majority of Americans seem embarrassed by them because they force us as a nation to examine our nation’s policies and activities and we are conflicted and ashamed. It is another example of the classic case of the little boy saying to his mother, “The king has no clothes on!” and she tells her son to “Hush up!” because she fears the reprisal and retribution for his honesty.
As a therapist, I hypothesize that a great deal of what gets diagnosed as PTSD is a case of overwhelmingly guilty consciences at what was done, or what was seen done, and what was participated in, and yet there is no socially acceptable mechanism for individual soldiers and us, as a nation, to confess our sins, acknowledge our guilt, ask for forgiveness, and repent. This spiritually cleansing strategy has been labeled by the current Republicans and conservative pundits as “cut and run”. And yet it is much more psychological and spiritually healthy to call a spade a spade, take the bull by the horns, determine the nature and degree of harm done, and attempt to rectify and repair the harm.
Our current political climate and culture is too imbued with hubris to admit mistakes, take responsibility for immoral and illegal behavior, admit wrongs done, and apologize and make amends. So the iconic images and ideas of Abu Ghraib and Guantanomo, of extraordinary rendition, of deceit in justifying a pursuit to war, makes us as a nation hide our shame by sporting yellow “support the troops” magnetic ribbons on our cars and pretend that memorial day is a day to celebrate the heroic sacrifices of the activities of soldiers who have engaged in immoral, illegal, and unethical acts in our name.
We do no service to ourselves and to them when we lie and deceive ourselves and others about the horror we have inflicted on Iraq, Viet Nam, and other people’s around the world.
As Nuremberg trials concluded, at the end of the day, the individual conscience is supreme and to excuse one’s moral choices saying “ I was serving my country” or “I was following the orders of the Commander in Chief” is no defense.
When we look at the indicators of mental health among our soldiers: the rates of PTSD and other psychiatric problems, the suicide rates, the dysfunction among military families, I have to ask myself on Memorial Day, who is kidding who? If this activity is so grand and noble why the terrible psychic sequelae?
We have allowed ourselves as a nation to follow a delusional administration, and a dysfunctional congress into engaging in a pre-emptive, immoral, and illegal war. As Michael Moore pointed out on Larry King live over 100 million Americans, about 1/3 of the voting public knew the war was wrong. Millions more around the world knew the war was wrong. The United States essentially declared war alone with many more nations being unwilling than the touted few who were willing. The Pope and other major religious leaders around the world declared the war immoral. How can this be the occasion for honor and tribute? It will only make us crazier. It is better to call sin what it is – sin, and then go from there.
I honor the prophets, like the little boy who saw that the emperor had no clothes on, and thank them for their enlightened witnessing when those in power and the “moral majority” who support them have lost their way.
This Memorial Day should be a day of reflection and repentance. Let’s stop glorifying and honoring what is morally ugly. Let’s provide opportunities for truth and reconciliation instead of military jingoism and chauvanism. What many of our soldiers need is moral cleansing, along with our leaders, and then maybe it wouldn’t be necessary for them to kill themselves and go nuts.
Here is video with Darrell Anderson who is one veteran whom I admire and honor very much. The video lasts a little over 4 minutes and is worth every second.
935 lies by Bush Administration lead U.S. to war according to the Center for Public Integrity. Is this evidence of war crimes and a basis for impeachment because of high crimes and misdemeanors? It is this kind of mystification that makes a whole nation crazy. When government is in bed with the corporate media and the military/industrial complex, fascism is real and present, and any sense that we live in a democracy becomes self delusional. Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow give an overview. Video lasts 6 minutes and every American should watch it.
Taxi To The Dark Side won the 2008 Oscar for best documentary. It is the story of Dilawar, the Afghani taxi driver, who was tortured and killed by U.S. soldiers. The film traces the history of the torture policy, illegal, and against the Geneva Conventions framed by Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General, John Yoo, Defense Department Attorney, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and George Bush.
It makes me ashamed to be an American. This current administration has committed terrrible sins and crimes against humanity in our name. As a nation we need to repent, ask for forgiveness, and make amends for our crimes and sins.
Every American should watch this film. It will help you understand why the terrorism threat has gotten worse not better in the last 8 years. I highly recommend it.
This video clip shows American soldiers killing a wounded Iraqi man. It lasts about 30 seconds.
Another video of American soldiers killing unarmed, wounded, Iraqis. No wonder PTSD and mental health problems are so high when soldiers return to "normal life." These soldiers are acting in our name. We should all be ashamed of ourselves.
American "Air Support" kills people indiscriminately.
US Army Specialist Darrell Anderson explains Army policy in Iraq: "Anderson describes the escalation of violence against unarmed civilians: "In April, they told us, "In a crowded area, if one person shoots at you, kill everybody." Anderson explains the rationale from the officers: "They [members of the crowd of people] are letting them [the person or persons firing at the U.S. military] attack you. They're no longer innocent if they're there at the time of the crime..."
Military recruiters target people of color and people from low social economic groups promising them college money, job training, excitement, adventure, and honor by serving their country. Little do the propects know that they will be trained to kill and support those who kill and may well be deployed as a mercenary force to advance the imperial, immoral, and illegal projects of their over-reaching government. They, in fact, will be asked to do things and risk things that those very government officials would not want their own children doing.
Of course, if you watch the news and have half a brain you realize that there is a high risk of being killed, wounded, or psychologically maimed for life. You will be asked to do things which every other responsible adult in our society has told you it is wrong to do - to kill under orders from a superordinate to whom you have sworn allegiance.
Do these vulnerable kids know what they are getting into? Do the recruiters tell them the whole truth or do they glamorize and sugar coat things?
There is an interesting video, produced by the University of California, on counter - recruitment - that is making sure that young people, targeted by military recruiters, have all the information to make an informed decision about the future of their lives. It lasts 27 minutes and is well worth watching. Any young person considering joining the military should watch this video.
The United States can use its power for good or for evil. With leaders like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez, and Rice, and a stupid electorate, propagandized by the corporate media, is it any wonder that there is such grief in the world?
Our government fights wars of imperial conquest with a mercenary army both in uniform and under the guise of civilian contractors which suck people into behaviors which cause tremendous mental heatlh problems and suicides at epidemic rates. Why do the conquerors kill themselves? Because of the terrible evil that they see and participate in.
As Peter Gabriel sings, "I Grieve". It is all terribly tragic and sorrowful. And we have done it to ourselves and to our world. It is time to repent, and seek forgiveness. Until we do this, the evil will continue under the guise of doing good by bringing freedom and democracy by force when we have alienated the hearts and minds of the people we profess to serve. Of course, like all evil, it is a lie.
From March 13 through March 16, 2008 hundreds of U.S. veterans of the two wars were in Silver Springs, Maryland outside of Washington, D.C. to testify in the "Winter Soldiers" hearings about what they really did while they were serving their country in Iraq. The hearings were ignored by the Corporate media which is huge disservice to our troops and to us as Americans. It is crucial if our democracy is to continue, and Americans are to be truly free, for Americans to hear what our soldiers are doing in our name and how they feel about it. I will be putting a series of these testimonies on this blog. They are what I call soldiers of conscience.
As we listen, it is more understandable why our soldiers suffer mental health problems and have suffered more suicides than soldiers in previous wars. The Bush administration and people who have supported this immoral and illegal war need to repent their evil and sins against our brothers and sisters around the world and in our own country.
This first clip of Camilo Mejia lasts about 11 minutes.
Part two clip lasts about 11 minutes. Mike Totten testifies.
Part three clip lasts about 11 minutes and features Joyce and Kevin Lucey, mother and father of Jeff Lucey who killed himself aftercoming home from Iraq.