Reflections on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Part II: FATEHPAL SINGH TARNEY
Janam Da Firangee,
Sikhi Mai Mangee
Those who continue suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder face, on an everyday basis, the past, but also the trials and tribulations of current events: constant reflecting on and wrestling with the past as well as grappling with the present.
For example, a large bomb was dropped on an alleged ISIS compound last week in Afghanistan. Liberals claim the bomb cost 314 million dollars and ask, was this worth it when social programs are being cut drastically at home.
Trump supporters counter that it only cost 16 million. To be sure, caves and tunnels were destroyed. Post-detonation assessments indicate that about 100 insurgents were killed, which might have included 4 commanders. What I have not heard discussed or debated is a contrast between this 100 casualty figure and the number of jihadis recruited by the anti-Islamic rhetoric and policies, such as the ill-fated travel ban, of Trump and his minions.
I am always reminded of Donald Trump, the man who avoided military service during the Vietnam War because of purported bone spurs on a foot – which foot he cannot recall, but a health issue that never impeded his golf game.
Now, as President of the United States, he refers - curiously, to use a kind word - to the American armed forces as “my military.”
Trump has claimed that nobody knew that health care was so complicated when, in fact, everyone knew it was complicated but him! He later said that he received an education on the history of Korea from the leader of China when he visited his golf resort in Florida, and also that Korea was once under Chinese control.
This was further evidence of Trump's total ignorance of history. Trump probably is also clueless of the fact that Japan had been influential in Korean history down through the ages and that Korea was a Japanese colony from 1910 to the end of World War II in 1945. Korea functioned as an important agricultural region in the Japanese Empire. At the same time, Japan modernized the Korean peninsula by building roads, bridges, railroads, and factories in much the same way as the British claimed they had done in India.
The 19th century American poet, Walt Whitman, volunteered as a nurse in the War Between the States. Even as a noncombatant, he was deeply affected by all that he experienced. Evidence suggests that Whitman had originally traveled to locate his wounded brother, who had enlisted in the Union Army.
Whitman traveled to battlefields and hospitals and wrote to his mother, explaining how the horrific scenes he has witnessed were such that nothing he had ever described before as difficult or troubling were really worth talking about.
Walt Whitman bemoaned, "The real war will never get in the books."
Even after almost four decades of marriage, my wife still has difficulty with my shouting out periodically – day or night - based on flashbacks from the war.
The author, Judith Lewis Herman, in an important and insightful book, ‘Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror‘, writes:
“After a traumatic experience, the human system of self-preservation seems to go onto permanent alert, as if the danger might return at any moment.”
A sound, a sight, a word, can trigger terrible reactions. You don't have to be bleeding to be hurt.
As a Sikh, belief in God helps. Simran helps. Kirtan helps. Saadh Sangat support helps. Modern medicine helps.
I am convinced that an injury, whether physical or emotional can provide opportunities for greater understanding, compassion, and sensitivity.
The Persian mystic, Rumi, put it very well and very concisely, "The wound is the place where the Light enters you."
I suffer from a cough and a chronic throat clearing habit due to exposure to the herbicide, Agent Orange, used in Vietnam. Now, fifty years later, many progressives use the epithet, Agent Orange, for Donald Trump.
I call this a bitter, distasteful coincidence.
April 17, 2017