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  • Reverend James Squire

I Need Ammunition, Not a Ride

The American people have forgotten about one way we become heroic as a nation. We have named the people who participated in World War II as the “Greatest Generation.” We have identified the multitude of people who have been on the frontlines fighting the pandemic from truck drivers to doctors and nurses to teachers and many more. We know what heroic action looks like.

I would like to shine the spotlight on our politicians in Washington to discover if the label of hero would describe the behavior of some but certainly not all. In fact, we need to shine the light on all of us civilians.

There is a very effective technique in counseling that helps individuals deal with painful moments that need to be healed. It is based in that saying that “you can’t be it if you can’t see it.” Visualization in counseling requires the patient to create an image in their mind that produces fear and distress for them and then revisit it in such a way that with each visit they realize that they are in a different or better place in life. The memory then loses power over them. Usually, the memory stays but its power is markedly decreased.

Hugh Missildine wrote The Inner Child of the Past which describes how childhood fears can still create dilemmas for us later in life. Each of us has a “child’ within us that still informs our behavior today. Sometimes that child is helpful but there are times when it is not. Visualization is a standard practice for someone who has suffered from abuse as a child. The difference is that we are an adult who now have power over those vulnerable moments.

The same is true for post traumatic stress syndrome where horrible memories of war can trigger a response that takes the person back to that terrible place and helps them to believe that they are in a different safer place now.

The key to visualization is to be able to see yourself in that new and better place that is free of vulnerability. Triggers can take us back to an unsettled past. I had an alumnus of our school who was a mind sweeper as an officer in Vietnam who committed suicide because he was watching the “you are there” form of reporting done by CNN and other major news stations who planted reporters in war zones during the Iraq War. It took him back to that moment when he had his legs blown off.

Visualization helps us to be it because we can see it. We have depended on the courage of others in the pandemic to show us how to see courage when it is right before our eyes.

Here is the question that every American and American politician should answer. As a citizen of our country or politician, how could we “see” our actions if we were in Ukraine as the various news organizations give us an up front and in person look to see the Ukrainians’ bravery?

I say this in the context of 60% of Americans think that the war would never have occurred if Trump were President, where leaders of the Republican Party call Biden “unfit” for office or his perceived political weakness by them as a cause of the war. We also have Trump, Carlson, and Pompeo mouthing pro Putin statements that are now being used by the Russian propaganda machine. In the recent past, these gestures would be thought to be unthinkable during a time of war. This is what we are seeing by too many so that this is what we are being.

But there is something that we need to see as we ask that important question of how we would be if we were in Ukraine. We need to see a leader, President Volodymyr Zelensky, and hear his words, “I need ammunition, not a ride.” Could you see our politicians doing the same thing? President Bone Spurs referred to our military as suckers for serving our country and John McCain as not an American hero. Picture in your mind what Trump would do, you 60% of the American people. He couldn’t even join the insurrectionists that he created on their trip to the capitol.

What would our other politicians do and say particularly the tough talking ones?

How would they measure up to the Ukrainian grandmother with her head wrapped in bandages who still has the face of a determined lady? Would our actions be the like the civilian who is handed a gun and had to learn how to shoot it to defend his country since he had never fired a weapon? Would we have the courage of the parent with children huddled together in a subway? Would we have the courage to stand as a group in an open area to just pray?

Time for us to see if we could visualize ourselves in a courageous action in the Ukraine. We are in a different war not with guns or bombs but certainly a war as we fight for the soul of our nation. The recent voting in Texas under the new rules was a disaster. See yourself in Ukraine. Now see yourself as a citizen of our nation with that other kind of soul war.

Could we remember seeing President Zelensky in action? He is a marked target by the Russians. Could we see and be his words, “I am here. We are not putting down arms. We are defending our country, because our weapon is truth, and our truth is that this is our land, our country, our children, and we will defend all of this.” Could we see and visualize it? Could we be it?

Time to answer those questions. One thing is true of any kind of war. “You can run but you can’t hide.”

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