Wednesday, April 23, 2014

'moral injuries'

This morning's local paper ran a page-one article about an upcoming gathering at which the "moral injury" suffered by veterans will be addressed.

Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day and some 33 active service members do the same every month. These are people who are clearly hurting in one way or another and combat is probably one of the contributing factors.

I read the article thinking perhaps I might attend, although stirring my stumps is not something I do well. But when I got down to the bottom of the article, I noticed that a bevvy of well-intentioned organizations were supporting the forum ... churches, academics and the like. Was this to be a meeting at which panelists burnished their own brand of morality, offering statements and then conferring on stage, one with the other, while all the time asserting their goodness of heart?

The idea made my teeth itch. Talking heads are a dime a dozen. But where there is blood on the sand, there is something unduly self-serving and feckless about it. From where I sit, death is no sort of reliable premise for horrified discussion: A (wo)man clearly has the right to commit suicide, whatever the commentary others might make.

And "morality" (or, as one Internet dictionary describes it, "a system of principles concerning right and wrong behavior that is accepted by a particular group of people") is largely a luxury item when it is confronted by the matter of individual survival. Principles are fine right up to the moment when principles don't work. Social agreement reaches only so far.

I am not for suicide or against morality, but when it comes to individual wounds -- some of them incredibly searing -- I prefer discussion that finds legitimacy everywhere, a realm in which all the doors are open, an arena in which "yes" and "no" are only as valid as the man or woman speaking such words. Isn't it only from such starting points that real wounds can be addressed?

Oh well ... I emailed the organizer of the panel to ask what the format would be. If I want talking heads, well-intentioned or otherwise, I can turn on the TV. Stirring my stumps takes more energy these days than I often have.

1 comment:

  1. In some worlds life is clearly cheap and killing is common, in others, not so much. Taking someone from one environment and thrusting them into the other will be a shock. We can either quit sending them to war or promote mayhem at home to prepare them. Or ignore the pain we cause them, that being the cheaper solution.