It’s Anzac Day in Australia, the day we down tools to remember those affected by WW1, in particular those who died.
As a child I found this national grieving and honoring of friendship, courage and loyalties immensely moving, as we would sit in our desks at school during Anzac week and listen once again to the story of Simpson and his Donkey.
As I grew older, with Australia’s involvement in the US-Vietnam war still fresh in our minds, my generation became critical of what seemed a day devoted to glorifying a State process that was horrific and destructive on so many levels.
These days, Anzac Day has been revived as a day of ritual and mourning, with pilgrimages by increasing numbers of younger Australians to Gallipoli and Kokoda, and special tv features exploring the history of Australia’s involvement in the World Wars.
Of all sins and mistakes and crimes, the taking of another life is the one that our culture — through laws and funding — regards as the most serious; and the saving of a life that is considered the most heroic.
When someone is either conscripted or volunteers to go to war, he or she is not only risking his or her own life, but is also being called on to take lives.
In her thoughtful article, ‘Wholistic Healing Through Energy Psychology (EP) for Veterans’ from The International Journal of Healing and Caring, Ingrid Dinter, an EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) practitioner who has worked extensively with Veterans, talks about her research into what it means to be a Warrior.
I learned that in many native tribes the boys at a certain age are separated from the tribe by the elders and prepared to become warriors. The ordeal of the battle serves as a rite of passage, where the warrior seeks transformation into adulthood, to take a new place in society. In battle, the warrior faces his own limitations and can find himself in an almost godlike situation, where he has the power to grant or take life, as well as sacrifice his own life for a higher purpose such as protecting his tribe. The tribe witnesses the ordeal, and offers respect by telling the stories of the warriors and the battle. Then the tribe takes responsibility for the war and releases the warrior from having to carry the burden of what happened. The warrior goes through a cleansing ritual and takes his new place in society, often including his receiving a new name that acknowledges his new status in the tribe.
When a warrior does not have the support of his community and society, and where there are no rituals for processing battlefield experiences, and where he has to struggle with] betrayal of that which is right during his ordeal, his path can be interrupted. He can literally get emotionally and cognitively stuck during his rite of passage. One common situation that can cause this is when the elders – in our society the chain of command – lets him down instead of supporting and protecting him as it was the traditional role of the elders. In Vietnam, for example, the chain of command could be disconnected frequently, while the soldiers remained in the jungle, facing endangerment through an inexperienced commander they couldn’t trust. For a veteran, this is a huge betrayal on his sacred contract as a warrior and causes great anger.
Another painful example is when the tribe lets the warrior down. Many returning Vietnam veterans were spit at and called baby killers. This is often one of the first traumas I work on with a Vietnam Veteran. Today’s warriors repeatedly share how unbearable they find the rage and the sense of betrayal by the tribe – those whom he was sent out to protect and lay down his life for.
Veterans are the light at the tip of the candle, illuminating the way for the whole nation.
If Veterans can achieve awareness, transformation, understanding and peace, they can share with the rest of society the realities of war.
And they can teach us how to make peace with ourselves and each other, so we never have to use violence to resolve conflicts again.
When you touch fire and your hand gets burned, it is not the responsibility of the hand alone.
It is the responsibility of the whole person.
The hand did not touch fire by itself.
It was commanded to do so by the brain, and the whole body got hurt at the same time.
If the body blames the hand, that is not just.
The hand acted because the body ordered it to do so.
When there is good communication between the hand and the rest of the body, both the hand and the body feel better.
If the body says, “You must bear the burden of your actions by yourself; I cannot forgive what you have done,”
That is lack of understanding.
(from ‘True Love’ by Thich Nhat Hanh)
The images used in this post are from Sidney Nolan’s extraordinarly moving Gallipoli series, which he donated to the Australian War Museum. Selections from the collection are currently touring regional galleries and are well worth a visit. See www.awm.gov.au/exhibitions/nolan/
For more on Gallipoli see the 3D internet doc at the ABC website
For excellent resources for using Energy Psychology for healing trauma, and specifically trauma or PTSD associated with war, see EFT for Vets
Also see the article ‘New Help For Troubled Vets’ at www.pressdemocrat.com
For EFT training in Australia, see www.emofree.com.au
For Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) see also the work of neurologist Robert Scaer — interview (mp3 & pdf transcript) with Rick Wilkes & Cathy Vartuli ; his website at www.traumasoma.com ; and articles such as The Neurophysiology of Dissociation and Chronic Disease, Published in Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 2001, 26(1), 73-91. Note this work is also relevant and extremely interesting for other chronic neuro-physiological conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
[added October 2011:] Check out the new film ‘Operation Freedom’ at http://www.operation-emotionalfreedom.com/ — video snippets, info, and how to order or view the film.
Finally, here’s a terrific video from Valerie English at www.eftprovidence.com
If you know anyone who may find these resources useful, please share using the Facebook and twitter links below. And as always, we welcome your comments.