“Well sir, with all respect: do you really want to know about War?”
“If I say yes, veteran, then what?”
Talk about a couple of questions that can turn an average day into one anything but so. For the answer to the latter comes not from the veteran, but from Life itself.
“Then, Doctor,” says Life, “your story might begin.”
Remember: any well-made story starts with a problem and ends with the Hero’s somehow resolving (or not) that problem, after having faced the problem head-on. Ideally, by solving the problem, the Hero makes life better not only for him/herself, but for others as well. A little communal healing is a good thing for all concerned, after all.
So,given that our psychiatrist really knows little about War, about what War itself–being around it, in the middle of it, from it—feels like, in body, in mind, in soul, we might ask: how can that knowledge end up being helpful, for him, for others, for anybody?
Here, let’s get back to Dr. Ed Tick.
In his works, Tick takes three strong positions. First:
Only Warriors can fully bring Warriors home. Non-warrior professionals might be able to help restore the Warrior, at least somewhat, in body. But only Elder Warriors can show Younger Warriors what has to happen in order to put War in its proper place in the heart, in the soul.
He doesn’t mince words. Professionals are free to disagree. Therein begins the discussion.
But he’s not done there. Second:
If only Elder Warriors can guide the Younger Warrior back home, only Civilians, those who have tended the hearth fires, can let them know, in body, mind, and soul, that to Home they are welcome.
And why is that the case? Third:
War is an experience beyond others, even other traumas. Natural disasters carry with them the dread of how unpredictable and short life can be. Violent attacks carry with them the horror of how selfish and cruel people can be.
War, on the one hand, brings with it both truths, held together in a dread and horror that is so personal, yet so impersonal; so one-by-one, yet so massive-all; so human, yet so god-like; so vulnerable, yet so powerful; so pitiably worthless, yet so astoundingly worthwhile; so one, yet so the other, adjective after adjective after…
War is something that one can only stand before, stand within, and then, if one is still left standing, turn and stand outwards toward a very different world, knowing that behind one is the most perverse Garden of Eden imaginable, a World unto itself, awful and awe-filled. One rejoices that one has been banished East of it. And one wonders whether that angel with the fiery sword might not be open to a small bribe, no biggie, just a little something to let one vet back in, just for a quick…
So, we must ask ourselves, this psychiatrist must ask himself: do we want to welcome that veteran back to the Home hearths?
Do we prefer to tell ourselves that the veteran has become, because of War, who we could never become had we gone there ourselves, had we not let him go in our place?
Or do we dare imagine that, yes, even we—even I—having entered War, might have considered a quick turn back and might have eyed that angel with the same thought?
If we, if I dare to imagine that? Then, my friend, we have a story on our hands.