Recovery from Moral Injury

In Canada we set aside November 11 as Remembrance Day. Flags are lowered and there are ceremonies across the country honouring veterans, along with a minute of silence at 11:00 a.m. This year I was deeply moved as I read two articles posted on Facebook by relatives of veterans. One relates to the Battle of Vimy Ridge, in the First World War. The other is about the D-Day Battle at Normandy, in World War II. Both were turning points.

It struck me that many of the men on the beaches of Normandy only had field experience and, as was reported, “were already in the boats when they learned it was no exercise” that awaited them. Only four of the eleven member company of Abe Goertzen (below) returned.

As we commemorate Remembrance Day I think of those who gave their lives and the loved ones they left behind. I think of the ones who returned and try to comprehend what soldiers endured. I know I will never fully understand.

In an article by Charlotte Cuthbertson, in the Epoch Times, entitled, After War, the Journey Home Takes a Lifetime, we read that the community has to share responsibility for what happened in a war. Psychotherapist Ed Tick, who has worked with veterans for 45 years, puts it this way, “You acted in my name, I paid the bills, I sent you. You didn’t do this on your own. And it wasn’t your decision, you were doing it representing me and our country, and you thought you were protecting me. So I take responsibility for you. And for whatever you did, and I’ll carry it with you, and I’ll help you come home.”

As a community we often don’t even begin to know how to help veterans return home. This became very clear to my husband and me some years ago when we discovered a veteran deceased in his room on Remembrance Day. He lived in the townhouse complex we managed. We were alerted to something being wrong when the tenant beneath him called to tell us the music had been on all night in the suite above him. The tenant seemed distressed earlier in the week and related some of his wartime experience in the Korean War to my husband. We were deeply concerned, but didn’t know what to do beyond offering compassion and lending a listening ear.

Moral injury is defined as a wound to the soul caused by participation in events that violate one’s deeply held sense of right and wrong.

After the War The Journey Home takes a lifetime – Epoch Times

The Epoch Times article outlines six therapeutic steps to recovery from wartime trauma and it is worth the read. It points out that moral injury is the most difficult to process. From the article, “Moral injury is defined as a wound to the soul caused by participation in events that violate one’s deeply held sense of right and wrong.” According to Tick, “Even witnessing morally questionable acts will cause moral injury….Moral injury is at the heart of PTSD.”

The article states, Moral injury symptoms include profound shame, guilt, betrayal, grief, and alienation.

In the words of Dr. Tick, “We really have to get our warriors in service and our veterans afterward to feel safe and secure so they can deeply explore their own conscience and their own value system and how they feel about what they did. And then give them opportunities for restoring and recovering those more esoteric moral dimensions of their being.” Tick relates the moving story of healing that happens when he takes vets of the Viet Nahm war back to Viet Nahm where they meet their fellow “warriors.”

What stood out for me was the view that veterans do not become normal citizens but are instead warriors. “Traditional cultures didn’t call somebody a warrior until they could carry the experience without traumatic breakdown. Because warriors are supposed to become community elders and leaders and teachers after service,” states Tick.

I recently heard Jordan Peterson allude to the necessity of a higher “spiritual” experience in the context of recovering from addiction. This revelation draws a person out of the depths to a higher plane of experience. I see a similarity of experience here as veterans view themselves as unique contributors to society.

…war is brought about by those who violate their consciences and do unconscionable things. When there is an aggressor there is correspondingly the defender.

As I contemplated moral injury, I was reminded of the words of Jordan Peterson, in Beyond Order, Twelve More Rules for Life, where he stresses the importance of not doing anything that would make you “contemptuous of yourself” or that makes you “weak and ashamed.” In other words, “Don’t do anything that violates your conscience.”

Wartime causes men to violate their conscience. I venture to say war is brought about by those who violate their consciences and do unconscionable things. When there is an aggressor there is correspondingly the defender.

While we are privileged to live in a society where we are not compelled to violate our conscience, we want to value this freedom and guard our hearts and minds to avoid moral injury and its devastation. There is an old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Read the article for more insights. As the title states, After War, the Journey Home Takes a Lifetime.


Follow-up on my recent article

As a writer I am always interested in learning from other writers and so I want to acknowledge a writer I admire whom I have observed to frequently have an unusual clarity and the ability to bring a broader perspective. Compare my recent “outrage” article to this reasoned one. There is a place for outrage, but reason should follow. Read Pandemic Disruptions Give Reason for Optimism by Jane Menton.

Shocking Cover-Up and False Allegations in Virgina’s Loudoun County

I was deeply troubled by the cover-up that occurred in a school in Virginia’s Loudoun County last May, as reported on November 3 in LifeSite News: How Youngkin soared to victory in Virginia. Below I will include a complete transcript of the article, in the event that the link is broken.

When a father came to the school because his daughter was raped in the girls’ bathroom, “by a skirt-wearing male” the school called the police on the father. Read the article.

What concerns me so deeply is that this incident did not fit the narrative the school is trying to promote, namely that this kind of abuse will not happen when bathrooms are open to persons who identify as the opposite gender. So the incident was ignored, dismissed, even denied. Meanwhile a father had to persuade the police, who came to arrest him at the school, that he needed a rape test kit for his daughter, the results of which turned out to be the damming evidence.

It gets worse. The father then became the ‘face of “domestic terrorism” at school board meetings (when he was) in fact the father of a young girl whose rape was inconvenient for the transgender bathroom lobby.’

More: Apparently unaware that Smith was the upset father of a rape victim, the National School Board Association (NSBA) cited his arrest at the school board meeting in a letter to Biden suggesting, “As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”

Unbelievable that the father of a rape victim could be framed as the face of domestic terrorism. When the facts don’t fit the narrative there is willful blindness.

NEWS

How Youngkin soared to victory in Virginia


A look at Glenn Youngkin’s victory, which showed the GOP what a culture wars-heavy victory can look like post-TrumpFeatured ImageVirginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin (R)Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images


Claire
Chretien

Wed Nov 3, 2021 – 5:39 pm EDT

Editor’s warning: The following article contains graphic descriptions and a video of a concerned mother reading from a pornographic book available to teens in Virginia.

ANALYSIS

(LifeSiteNews) – After a campaign emphasizing parental rights in education, businessman Glenn Youngkin won Virginia’s governor race last night, becoming the first Republican to win the governorship in more than a decade and signaling that the commonwealth is no longer the blue stronghold it was during the Trump years.

Pro-life and pro-family advocates say Youngkin’s defeat of former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who was governor from 2014 to 2018, show a path for future Republican victories. Leaning into the culture wars over education, Youngkin managed to keep support of the pro-Trump Republican base in Virginia while also picking off moderate Democrats and independents.

Liberal Fairfax and Loudoun Counties went 10 and 14 points more Republican than in the 2020 election, respectively.

The sea change is evident just in comparison to Virginia’s last election in 2019 when Democrats gained two state Senate seats and six House seats, thus taking both branches of the state legislature while also controlling the governorship.

Republicans also won back the House of Delegates last night. Democrats still control the state senate.

Education and Loudoun County rape cover-up

The scandals embroiling Virginia’s Loudoun County, which is outside Washington, D.C. and the wealthiest county in the United States, played important role in the race.

As revealed by the Daily Wire’s Luke Rosiak, a skirt-wearing male anally raped and assaulted a ninth grade girl in a bathroom in May 2021. The victim’s father, a plumber named Scott Smith, was arrested June 22 at a Loudoun County School Board meeting, where concerned parents opposed proposed transgender bathroom policies and the teaching of critical race theory.

Rosiak’s investigation revealed a stunning cover-up of the rape that included the Loudoun County Public Schools’ superintendent openly lying to the public about there being no bathroom assaults and has so far resulted in the resignation of one school board member.

One Loudoun school board member said he might not have seen an email from the superintendent about the bathroom attack despite having replied to it, emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request showed.

As Rosiak reported:

… immediately after the May rape, Ziegler wrote to the school board members saying, “The purpose of this email is to provide you with information regarding an incident that occurred at Stone Bridge HS. This afternoon a female student alleged that a male student sexually assaulted her in the restroom.”

Three weeks later, on June 22, Ziegler said in a public board meeting that “To my knowledge, we don’t have any record of assaults occurring in our restrooms.” None of the school board members raised the discrepancy.

When Smith had gone to his daughter’s school after she’d been assaulted, the school attempted to handle the case internally. Rosiak reported:

Scott Smith, the parent of the victim, previously told The Daily Wire that he was aghast to find the incident being handled only by people who worked at the school full-time — with the [school resource officer] seeming to take direction from the principal — rather than a team of police officers one would expect to find processing a major crime scene. There were no outside police or medics at the scene when he arrived, he said. He became irate.

He said that police responded to deal with complaints about him making a scene in the office, not to the rape allegations. Once on the scene, he said, the team of police eventually became persuaded that what had occurred was a serious incident that required their attention, and escorted his family to the hospital where a rape kit was administered.

Smith said he did not believe a rape kit would have been administered based on the laid-back way administrators and the SRO appeared to be handling it on their own. The county’s prosecutor later said that the case relied on DNA evidence, suggesting that if a rape kit had not been conducted that day, no substantiated rape would have likely been added to Stone Bridge [High School]’s books.

Apparently unaware that Smith was the upset father of a rape victim, the National School Board Association (NSBA) cited his arrest at the school board meeting in a letter to Biden suggesting, “As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”

Almost half of its state members have withdrawn or distanced themselves from the NSBA as a response to the letter. The NSBA has also apologized for the letter.

But just a few weeks ago, after the letter’s publication, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland instructed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to mobilize a “partnership” between federal, state, and local authorities to discuss “strategies” relating to handling alleged “threats” to educators from parents protesting controversial school content such as critical race theory.

Rosiak’s bombshell article “Loudoun County Schools Tried To Conceal Sexual Assault Against Daughter In Bathroom, Father Says” then revealed that the man the NSBA tried to make the face of “domestic terrorism” at school board meetings was in fact the father of a young girl whose rape was inconvenient for the transgender bathroom lobby.

Youngkin didn’t shy away from the issue, campaigning in Loudoun County and calling for an investigation of the school board.

“Instead of investigating parents, the Department of Justice should be investigating those who covered up a heinous crime in our school,” Youngkin said. “They not only covered up a heinous crime, they enabled an offender being prosecuted of sexual assault to attack again.”

Virginia public school libraries stocked with graphic books featuring sex toys, pedophilia 

In addition to racist curricula, parents spoke out against pedophilia-promoting pornographic materials being available in school libraries. This became more of an issue when McAuliffe said during a September debate, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) ultimately removed “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison and “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe from school libraries “until two committees made up of staff, students and parents can review the texts to determine if they are appropriate for school-age children,” The Washington Post reported September 28. “Parents in Texas and Virginia have alleged that two specific images in ‘Gender Queer’ constitute pedophilia. One of the images shows the adult author engaging in fellatio with a romantic partner who is also an adult, while the author wears a dildo. The other image shows a sexual fantasy of the author’s — in which an apparently teenage youth is about to engage in fellatio with an older, bearded man — that the book states was based on Plato’s ‘Symposium.’”https://www.lifesitenews.com/wp-content/plugins/lsn-media/assets/video-placeholder.jpg

“Terry McAuliffe showed us his heart when he said that ‘parents don’t matter.’ He immediately disqualified himself from office,” Youngkin responded in a statement. “I believe that parents matter, and I’ll never put government bureaucrats or politicians between parents and their kids.”

Social conservatives remain strongly opposed to the sex education curriculum at FCPS, which emphasizes transgender theory and sodomy. The county automatically enrolls all of its students in 80 hours of sex ed annually without parental permission. In one lesson for seventh graders, the term “oral sex” appears 11 times. Eighth graders are taught about “anal sex” 22 times and “oral sex” 20 times in one lesson.

Ninth graders are taught that teens can get prescription birth control without a parent. Tenth graders receive instruction on abortion and how to obtain one without parental notification or consent. All high schoolers learn about the daily sex drug PrEP (the School Board voted to promote PrEP to students before the FDA had approved it for use by minors).

‘A Tea Party for families is coming’

“Virginia voters, and particularly parents, made their voices heard loud and clear. Only a few weeks ago, Terry McAuliffe and Democrats were widely expected to coast to victory in a state Joe Biden won by 10 points last year. But then McAuliffe made a big mistake: he told the full, unvarnished truth about Democrats’ anti-family agenda,” commented Terry Schilling, president of American Principles Project (APP).

“That agenda has been fully repudiated,” he said. “Voters have rejected Democrats’ imposition of Critical Race Theory in schools. They have rejected Democrats’ radical transgender policies which would destroy girls’ sports and threaten the privacy and safety of women in their private spaces – and indeed already have in the cases of two high school girls who were sexually assaulted in Loudoun County this year.”

“But most importantly, voters have rejected the Democrat view that the education of children belongs to the state and its woke bureaucrats rather than to their loving parents. While that view may still be prevalent in the Biden administration and among many other left-wing elected officials across the country, Democrats should be forewarned: the tide is turning, and a Tea Party for families is coming.”

Failed race hoaxes

Perhaps sick of being called racists and domestic terrorists for opposing school curricula that teaches students to judge others based on skin color rather than the content of their character, voters did not fall for two race hoaxes right before the election. Days before the election, a small group of people dressed as white supremacists stood in front of a Youngkin bus with tiki torches, a reference to the Charlottesville violence of 2017. They were quickly revealed to be Democrat operatives, and the anti-Trump Lincoln Project took the blame for the stunt.

Then, on the evening of November 1, Twitter erupted over a photo of a man in a cowboy hat at a Youngkin rally with a Confederate patch sewn on the back of his jacket. The patch looked brand new, the man apparently stood in front of the media with his back to them for the entirety of the event, and none of the left-wing journalists who tweeted his photo bothered to ask him any questions or attempt to identify him. This, like the tiki torch stunt, was suspicious because the modus operandi for the left is generally to immediately attempt to identify people in such scenarios and “cancel” them.

The stunts did not get much traction other than on Twitter.

Alongside Youngkin on the Republican ticket were Winsome Sears, who beat far-left Democrat Del. Hala Ayala to become Virginia’s first female and black Lieutenant Governor, and Cuban-American Del. Jason Miyares, whose mother “fled communist Cuba in 1965 with the clothes on her back and no idea from where her next meal would come,” his campaign website explained. Miyares beat incumbent AG Mark Herring.

The Virginia Democrat Party also weakened its credibility on race when in 2019, Herring and outgoing Gov. Ralph Northam – both pro-abortion Democrats – admitted to previously wearing blackface. McAuliffe had called on Northam to resign but went on to laud him as a “great governor” in September 2021.

Voter suppression of maskless Virginians 

Many Virginians showed up to vote on November 2 shocked to hear from poll workers that they would be required to cover their faces to vote.

There is no indoor mask mandate in Virginia.

It became so bad that Christopher Piper, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections, emailed poll workers at 12:06 p.m. reminding them that they were required to let maskless voters cast ballots at their appropriate polling places.

“We have gotten several reports of voters either being turned away or being made to wait until the polling place is clear before being allowed to vote if they refuse to wear a mask,” he wrote.

“You may not turn voters away because they are not wearing masks,” Piper chided them. “While masks are encouraged, every eligible voter is entitled to cast a ballot at their polling place.”

“It is not sufficient to offer curbside voting as an alternative,” he added, noting that Virginia law only allows curbside voting for voters with disabilities or over the age of 65.

Two prominent conservatives – Ben Domenech, co-founder of The Federalist and a FOX News commentator, and Matt Schlapp, president of the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC – tweeted that they were ordered to mask at their respective polling places.

Virginia election commissioner reminds poll workers that they may NOT impose a mask mandate on voting in Virginia. If someone working the polls tries to suppress your vote, know your rights. pic.twitter.com/8Vp0BjNHhc

— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) November 2, 2021

Just got this text. They were trying to require masks at my polling place in a jurisdiction with no mask mandate in place. pic.twitter.com/WqgcyO4LYF

— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) November 2, 2021

This is important information for Virginia voters. The Dep’t of Elections has also made clear to all localities today that there is no mask requirement to vote. https://t.co/8T2ngqPS6a

— Justin Riemer (@Justin_Riemer) November 2, 2021

To be clear, this is illegal voter suppression. You may vote at any polling place in Virginia — even in schools — with or without a mask no matter what local election officials tell you. https://t.co/YcOmPWFJnN

— Charlie Hurt (@CharlesHurt) November 2, 202

I was told at my polling station I couldn’t vote without a mask. Knowing what the GOP thinks about masks, isn’t this just an illegal barrier to voting? But I can count on one thing our judges will do nothing.

— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) November 2, 2021

FWIW I was told I had to wear one. “We’re requiring masks.” I didn’t have one, so they gave me one from a box. https://t.co/WBSgEdqxGp

— Ben Domenech (@bdomenech) November 2, 2021

My run-in w/ it was pretty odd actually. A poll lady insisted my 2 year old wear a mask in order for me to vote. I just flatly said “that seems unreasonable”; another volunteer came over and kind of hurried me inside

— Rebeccah Heinrichs (@RLHeinrichs) November 2, 2021

McAuliffe stressed his pro-abortion stance, ‘failed spectacularly’

McAuliffe emphasized his strong support for unlimited abortion, even doing a campaign event at an abortion facility.

McAuliffe ran hard on abortion—hitting the issue in TV ads, speeches, debates.

Media and McAuliffe said the issue could sink Youngkin after Texas’s 6-week ban took effect on September 1.

McAuliffe even campaigned at an abortion clinic. https://t.co/vUXrfVzq2Wpic.twitter.com/vLakNyIbdw

— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) November 3, 2021

“Terry McAuliffe arguably made abortion the central issue in his campaign, and it failed spectacularly,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “This is due in part to Glenn Youngkin punching back in his own TV ad and in the debates, defining McAuliffe as the real extremist for supporting painful late-term abortions. The pathway forward for the GOP in the 2022 midterms is clear: going on offense on life and refusing to cede the issue to pro-abortion Democrats is the key to victory.”

“Glenn Youngkin’s pro-parent, pro-family message strongly resonated in Virginia, and as our past polling has shown, it is also popular nationwide,” concluded APP’s Schilling. “Republicans have their blueprint for next year’s crucial midterm elections. We urge them to follow it, and we look forward to doing our part to ensure the electoral success of this growing movement in 2022 and beyond.”

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Wounds of a Friend or Kisses of an Enemy

I am writing a more personal post this week. I watched the movie Emma and was struck by her lack of self-awareness. This of course is the theme around which the story revolves. I’ve been doing some soul searching. How unaware am I of the impact of my words?

The movie was timely as I was just brought up short by someone who corrected me with what I am to consider as a ‘loving rebuke from a brother.’

Rebukes are those double-edged swords. They can wound and heal or they can destroy. In the movie Mr. Knightley soundly rebukes Emma for her insensitive remarks to Mrs. Bates.

Mr. Churchill initiated a game requiring everyone to say three very foolish things. Laughing, Mrs. Bates self-deprecatingly says she is sure to say several foolish things if she opens her mouth. Emma then responds that the difficulty for Mrs. Bates would be to limit herself to three things.

So simply and beautifully done by Jane Austin.

Emma has mis-stepped before, but how her character flaw is laid bare before her friends. Mrs. Bates fumbles a little and mutters, “I see. I see….I will try and hold my tongue. I must make myself very disagreeable, or she would not have said such a thing.”

Emma changes when the full impact of her actions dawns on her. She heeds Mr. Knightly’s rebuke, as spoken by someone who cares.

Mr. Knightley points out that Mrs. Bates is below Emma’s station in life and will continue to sink and this is why Emma’s behaviour is so disgraceful. He reminds Emma that Mrs. Bates has known her since infancy and that when she was younger “her notice of you was an honour.” He says others will take their lead from her in their view of Mrs. Bates. To her credit, Emma comes to deeply regret her words and determines to make amends.

Wounds that heal. Mr. Knightley is greatly relieved to see that he has not ruined his chances with Emma, and that deep down her character was what he hoped, not what he feared.

As authors and journalists, we have to hold ourselves to a gold standard that refuses to stoop to ridicule and chooses to see the world as it “could be.”

I watched a brief clip by Jordan Peterson in which he says, you don’t want a partner who will just pat you on the head; you want someone who will push you towards who you could be.

As authors and journalists, we have to hold ourselves to a gold standard that refuses to stoop to ridicule and chooses to see the world as it “could be.”

Comedians have recently come under fire. While I agree with the importance of having the liberty of free speech, I’ve been of the opinion that a good comedian makes us laugh, collectively, at ourselves, our lives and the dilemmas we face. ‘Collectively’ is the key word here. We may be embarrassed but we can laugh at ourselves without feeling we are a target.

It’s easy to go with the flow, and laugh even when we know something is hurtful to someone. There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Better are the wounds of a friend than the kisses of the enemy.” Do we really want the approval of the enemy? A true friend looks for fairness to all and is guided by kindness, while an enemy harbours malice.

Someone who does not like you when you are real will not like you if you fake it to go along with them.

I found a saying when I was young that went like this, “A fool convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Someone who does not like you when you are real will not like you if you fake it to go along with them, either. You become subservient when another can make you change outwardly and your outward behaviour no longer matches your inner convictions.

There is tremendous power in words to wound. There is also power to influence others for good or evil. It is much easier to tear down than it is to build.

In today’s society trashing a person’s life seems to be some sort of sadistic sport: Let’s see whose life we can destroy this week.

In Canada thousands of caregivers risked their lives during the worst part of the pandemic and have now lost their jobs, on top of it all, due to vaccine mandates. Some provinces have decided against firing health workers as we approach the “endemic,” and the journalistic response has been disturbing. Chris Selley covered the surprising attitude in a recent article entitled, Canadians are enjoying firing the unvaccinated far too much.

Kudos to our local school boards and unions who have decided to continue business as usual rather than lose teachers.

I’ve led a sheltered life and cruelty always comes as a shock to me. It may be because I’ve stayed off Twitter. (Smile.) The real reason why I am not on Twitter is because of how much of my valuable time it would consume. But there is another reason. I would find it too hard to resist firing off those zingers in the moment. I need a Mr. Knightly in my life to hold me to a higher standard.