I am going to break a whole bunch of taboos and tell you the truth. In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is not king, as the saying goes, but rather the sight of the one eyed man is a threat to those whose understanding of the universe does not contain the sights they have seen, the colours they describe, the light so bright it burns, or the darkness whose reality they have no context for. PTSD is NOT A MENTAL ILLNESS, it is an injury that is aggravated by the a society that has a great deal invested in a shared delusion state that is not in fact based in reality. The blind are invested heavily the universe they know and understand, the universe the one eyed speak of is both incomprehensible and threatening. Those that speak of sights they have seen are not gifted, are not heeded, they are deemed freakish and flawed, and shunned for the fact they cannot.
Our society has worthy goals, the peace, prosperity, security and safety that are our stated goals, these are good and worthy goals. Our society prides itself on equality, and on justice. These are all good things. Our society has the firm belief, almost religious conviction that violence is not the answer. These are all good and worthy goals, this is not the reality that exists.
What do you tell the woman who has been raped, the child that has been abused? We tell them that they are paranoid and broken because they are unwilling to put themselves into the same situation in which they were attacked. We call them irrational because they look at crossing the campus at night in terms of risk, when those to whom ignorance of the risks is their only armour scoff at the danger that they have not themselves encountered….yet.
We tell our children that violence never solves anything, but the reality is that our police carry weapons that are designed to use force ranging from blindness, through unconsciousness, and yes indeed, death as a direct implementation of the Crown’s need to protect the public through the application of violence to stop the abuses of the law abiding citizens from the criminals who look upon them as nothing more than prey. Our jails are not filled with criminals because it is unthinkable for people to be victims of crime, they are filled with criminals because the risk of violence is real and present. We have laws against willful promotion of hatred in this country because……well basically a whole lot of people seem to want to stir up hatred. We cannot claim that hatred and violence are not real while we have expensive state agencies that exist, and suffer from chronic overburden, to deal with the results of the bad things we claim are not real concerns.
Then you have the soldiers. To be a soldier is to serve your country through the application of deadly force in pursuit of the policies of your elected officials. Soldiers do lots of other things as well, but make no mistake, peace is something that soldiers leave behind through the establishment of order through the application of controlled violence. When violence in the hands of those who have no urge to accept peace is your problem, the application of violence in the hands of those who desire an end state of peace is actually a big part of the solution. It is not the end stage, but convincing the enemy that he cannot win through force is required for the tool of negotiation to actually be of use.
Soldiers and those who work outside Canada’s borders in failed states, in long standing war zones, see humanity at its worst, stripped of all vestiges of innate civilization. There is a reality that we have the morality we can afford; the closer to the edge of survival a people stand, the closer to home the lines of who you look out for become, and the farther away the boundaries of what you will do tend to drift. The “great generation” who lived through the world wars remember this, and carry its scars to their grave, even in lands where the society did not break down.
The term inhuman gets tossed around a lot, almost as much as human rights. To be honest, the only human right is to die. Everything else is a privilege which is made possible through the collective efforts of a society whose ability to function is based on its collective wealth, its collective will to employ it towards the common good, and its ability to defend that common wealth from those who would take it. Society exists because we can afford it, we desire it, and we defend it. It is not a right, it is not a natural or real thing, it is an artificial construct that is kept alive by our continued investment in it. When that construct breaks down, humanity is a whole lot different than we are comfortable seeing it.
Soldiers do not live in the comfort zone, they live in the reality, with the skill set and discipline to walk into the chaos that is, and do their best to hammer it into a field expedient approximation of a society so that others can look at building the resources to afford, the will to sustain the society that soldiers can only ever provide the naked killing power to defend. We both kill and die to buy time for society to either get its collective crap together to build a self sustaining structure, or finish tearing themselves to pieces fighting over the scraps of what they once shared. We know what our tools can and can’t do, we are the surgeon’s knife, or the butcher’s cleaver, not the sutures or the dressing. We do the hard and necessary things, we get dirty in ways that extend way the hell beyond the physical dealing with the terrible things that our society really really doesn’t want to admit exist.
We are the one eyed men and women in the land of the blind. We look down the same roads that you do and we see the signs that indicate the roadbed has been tampered with, and our bodies and minds react because that is all the warning of an IED you generally get. We look at the movement of people and vehicles around us and are always calculating threats, cover, exit lanes. This isn’t paranoia, this is preparation. While the people around us stumble along in the dark, oblivious to the dangers around them, and frequently victims to them, we who are sighted see the dangers, and heed the Havamal.
1. Within the gates | ere a man shall go,
(Full warily let him watch,)
Full long let him look about him;
For little he knows | where a foe may lurk,
And sit in the seats within.
Odin, the one eyed god, the Victory Father, is the inspiration of the Havamal and the first words in it tell us to be aware of the dangers of this world, and look well before you move through it. This awareness of danger as a reality of our world has been lost as our society has mistaken its goals for its reality, its destination for its position. In this land of the blind, those who are aware of the dangers, because they have encountered them, are deemed to be mentally ill, when the reality is they are simply one eyed men and women in the land of the blind. Damned and doomed to be seen as flawed because they can see, deemed to be irrational because the reality they have lived through, the life they have lived, does not fit in the shared delusional state of the nation of the blind that refuses to accept that there are sights they in their eyeless state, cannot see.
Those who suffer from PTSD have survived the sorts of trauma, not always single events, but often the accumulated stresses of pressures beyond what the mind can simply resist without bending or breaking, and they have survived. They have lived through experiences that do not fit in the comfortable world that our society strives to build, through shared intention and investment. The fact that these are either the people this society has failed to protect, or those who have paid the price for serving under arms to protect the place in which such a dream of peace and security could exist, just makes it so much less excusable for the treatment of those who bear the scars of the things society cannot accept.
The majority is not actually naturally right. What you have lived through is real, and trumps what others believe ought to be possible. I get very tired at the degree of aggression shown by the mental health professionals to those whose reality really does extend to places they cannot even contemplate, and therefore simply refuse to accept are real. I get very tired at the stigmatizing of the one eyed men and women in our society, for the crime of having seen what the blind have not.
In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is judged to be insane, but he is still right. Blind is still blind, no matter the numbers who agree there is no sun, no stars, no moon, you simply cannot pretend not to have seen what you have seen, to know what you paid the hard ugly coin to learn. Nor should you.
I am done losing people to satisfy the delusions of the blind. I honestly don’t care that the good people of our society don’t like to think about bad things, or have illusions about reality that other, frankly better, people have already paid a terrible price so that you have the freedom to be wilfully blind. Play time is over, it is time to grow up. The world is a complicated place, there are some things in it that you won’t understand, some terrible things that must be done, and you probably won’t understand why. There are people who have been part of the same society that you are whose lives have contained events you absolutely cannot understand and really ought to stop pretending you can. Stop trying to make the blind pretend they have not seen, stop stigmatizing knowledge and sanctifying ignorance.
We lose people to PTSD because in the land of the blind, the one eyed men and women feel they have no place. We lose people every gods damned day because they make you uncomfortable and you make that abundantly clear. I am done pandering to your delusions. I am done protecting your comfort. The men and women who come back are not ill, they are carrying a burden for you. You don’t have to understand it, in fact most wouldn’t wish that on their worst enemy. One thing, and one thing alone is required of you, make them welcome, let them come all the way home. In the land of the blind, let the one eyed man have a place.
Odin is the one eyed god, the god of the price paid, the Victory Father. That is the face I wish our returning soldiers to know. He is also the Feeder of Ravens, the Hanged God, the Gallows Lord, who feeds his wolves and ravens from the dead warriors. This is the face that more and more of our soldiers are finding, not on the fields they returned from, but in the home they could not fully return to. Be part of the solution. Let the fallen of our wars be measured on the day the guns fell silent upon the field, not when the last veteran falls in the silence of his solitude.