Saturday, November 28, 2009
I only know of one cure for the experiences from these wars, and that's a lobotomy.
Sociologist William Brown, a former Army drill sergeant
We're getting ready to face an epidemic.
Floyd Meshad, president of the National Veterans Federation and author of a book on helping PTSD victims
And Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" He replied, "My name is Legion, for we are many."
My godmother, Cheryl McKee, is a psychotherapist who works with US soldiers and their families. I asked her a few weeks ago whether the effects of war on soliders and their families are as bad as reported. She responded, 'Oh, it's much worse.' This morning, the LA Times shared the story of the first murder conviction in the US where the former US soldier shot the man who got his wife pregnant and was declared legally insane due to his war-induced PTSD.
As soldiers with PTSDs come home in droves--back to 'normal life' of families, wives, work and children--we are coming to grips with how these men and women will cope with the price they are paying for the 'war on terror.' As we civilians are awakening to this reality, let us consider two important events this coming week:
1. President Obama will give a primetime speech (8pm EST) at West Point on Wednesday to announce plans to increase troop levels in Afghanistan to over 100,000 soldiers despite serious reservations on the ground in Afghanistan.
2. Evangelical, Catholic and Orthodox Christians in the US have launched the Manhattan Declaration which prioritizes banning abortion, protecting 'traditional marriage,' and promoting religious freedom through the use of civil disobedience. Apparently, this is the trinity of Christian political involvement.
The manner in which Christian leaders in the US promote these issues and remain virtually indifferent to others is utterly shocking. While 2200 war veterans died last year due to lack of basic medical care, two wars continue to rage in the Middle East with nothing much to show for it except dead and wounded civilians and soldiers and $1 trillion in federal spending. While Senators will continue debating a rather weak public option on Monday, these same Manhattan Christians will declare the market to be the best mechanism for reforming health care (this is best characterized by Richard Land's outlandish defense of free-market capitalism: "It's noble and commendable to be charitable with your own money, but it's something different to be charitable with other people's money"). The government is a friend of Manhattan followers of Jesus when it comes to criminalizing abortion and gay marriage and keeping our religious freedoms secure with endless wars, but when it comes to economics and health care, government is the bogeyman.
An EasyYolk Declaration would call on Christians to pursue all 'life' issues. This must include declaring these wars unjust and demanding that the men and women in military uniforms come home and be given the resources for physical and psychological healing. This must also include a willingness to risk 'European-style socialism' to give medical coverage to all Americans...because it is the only program that will save lives.
This EasyYolk Declaration would also take seriously the forces that plague marriage and family in the United States. Evangelical teen-pregnancy rates are skyrocketing in the US and this has absolutely nothing to do with a so-called 'gay agenda.' In addition, divorce rates in Christian homes are higher than those in atheist or agnostic homes. Instead, it's a heterosexual agenda seems to be plaguing our marriage and families--a bad mix of biblical patriarchalism, sexual addiction and a financial strain to pursue the American Dream. We should put our resources together to constructively combat these, not gays and lesbians who are pursuing a lifetime of love, service and forgiveness in a covenant of marriage. The Christian call to outlaw abortion and gay marriage represents an ironic combo of political priorities since women and homosexuals who, no doubt, find themselves as Jesus' protagonists in the kingdom of God if a new set of Gospels were written for today's audience.
Today, the call goes out to followers of Jesus to exorcise the demons of empire. They are legion, but we possess power, through prayer, fasting and a ferocious intentionality to model God's coming kingdom, anticipating that Day when all things will be put to right.