Sunday, December 4, 2016

Beyond 911—Over the cliff


It has been 15 years since 911 and it’s time to dust off a previous post that was painful to write and perhaps painful to read. I wrote about the side of a veteran’s life that nobody wants to hear. We much prefer to bathe in the glory of war and avoid the aftermath. But as one who fought and has an aftermath, I thought it was important to paint the whole portrait.

In similar fashion awhile back I wrote a book (The Non-Identity Crisis) that has the following on the dedication page:

“This book is dedicated, not to a person, but rather to an idea: the eradication of war and the end of suffering. In particular what I have to say in this book is dedicated to all who have experienced anguish resulting from the tragedy of 911. I write as a fallen warrior with my own wounds inflicted during a previous conflict—The Vietnam War. True for all warriors of any and ever war, the scars never go away, even the ones that lay buried deep in your mind. We learn mostly from our own suffering and if we wish to not keep repeating it, the only ones who can chart a new course are us.”

In this book I write a lot about what war is really like when we scratch away the veneer of glory. We are living in the aftermath of 911, Osama Bin Laden is now dead, and our actions years later reflect this trauma. Bin Laden is now gone but his legacy is not. There is a message in this book that addresses both our responsive actions and moving beyond the trap. I’d like to share with you a perspective from the book that may not been immediately evident:

“When you kill another, sooner or later their surviving loved ones will come after you. War is the ultimate failure of the human family and if we ever hope to live in peace we are the only ones who can create the conditions for that to happen. What we are doing right now around the world is continuing the legacy of war and thereby guaranteeing future conflicts. What I have to say throughout this book is how to end it. Holding onto the desire for vengeance and justification for killing that emanated from 911 virtually insures our collective downfall. The mantra of ‘Never Forget’ is a banner for that downfall and only appropriate for those who never fought. For those of us who have fought, we must forget and forgive or go insane…What Bin Laden started but couldn’t finish on 911—to bring down our culture—we may do to ourselves due to our attachment to revenge at all cost. Did he anticipate our predictable response? It’s impossible to say but a fundamental rule of warfare is to know your enemy and goad him into a trap of his own making.”

If we are sincere in wishing to honor the sacrifices of our young men and women who so valiantly offer themselves to defend our way of life, the best way of doing that is to stop the insane path we are presently on, bring our warriors home and pay for their healing and restoring their lives.
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