Choosing the darkness or the Light

In this space I will ask you to join me in a discussion of how we should choose the darkness or the light in our lives.  Life in the darkness is centered on the self.  Time and energy goes into the development and advancement of the self only.  Life in the light is working to be fully while reaching out to other fully developed people.

This blog will focus on the effort to tell the story of a pair of veterans returning from war. Their transition from citizens in a first world country into warriors operating often in third world countries.  We will look at their process through the demands that are put on them by those who have the power to jail them, place them in danger, or reward them.  We will experience their decisions as they turn into people who have either accomplished a lot or those who should be ashamed of what they have done.Cost of War, Gilliland cover

Part of the exploration of how to choose between the darkness or the light is the presentation of a book based on the lived experience of a warrior who has been trying to come back for 45 years.  The author was drafted at the age of 19 and then spent almost 5 years in Vietnam service (1966-1971).  For him the war began in 1966 and continues to this day.  This is true of veterans who have served in a theater of war and in combat.  Only about 25% of military serve in hot combat and for those, their lives are forever changed. The arc of their lives is knocked off the path that was set from their birth family and circumstances.  The people the would have met, the relationship they would have had and the consequences of war in their lives will be different than if they had not been chosen.

It is believed by psychologists who deal with veterans that war is crazy, when you are pushed into it then you should run away, or go crazy, or find some other way to deal with the incongruities of the experience.  Some do run away.  Some do end up in facilities to serve the emotionally disturbed. Some deal with the constant barrage of horror by developing a condition called Alexithymia.

Alexithymia – condition characterized by the inability to identify and describe emotions in the self.

  • Dysfunctional emotional awareness
  • It leads to un-empathic and ineffective emotional response
  • Peter Syfnios – 1973 identified the condition and described it.
  • The word is based on the Greek lexis for speech, and thumos – the soul modified by an alpha positive (that expresses negation or absence) it literally means no words for emotions.

The expression of the problem is that one who suffers from this condition just don’t have the normally expected reactions to most situations.  People around the one who suffers notice and become uncomfortable to be around that person.  The person who has lost the ability to emote normally just withdraws.

It is difficult for the sufferer to explain why they are stymied in their response because the cause of the withdrawal consists of things of which they are ashamed.  Alexithymia is part of PTSD.  This larger and more discussed condition only exists in societies (like ours) where returning soldiers are not encouraged to talk about the experience they had in their war..  In cultures where everyone goes to war like Israel, and then returns to share experiences with each other, PTSD is almost not known.

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