A personal story about why I hate war
Any one who has read any of my blogs, will know that I utterly loath and detest war. And I don’t just hate war because I’m a long haired peace loving hippy (long hair yes, peace yes, hippy no !). I hate war for 3 primary reasons. First it represents the dirty work of the War Machine in an effort to create profit. Second, I see no reason why man, woman, child, plant or animal should die in the name of power, land, freedom or liberty. Perhaps there is a place for conflict but most wars are manufactured. And third, war completely transformed my family and put it through absolute hell. In addition, I’ve become aware over the years that I fought in many wars in other lives. Mostly to defend country but sometimes to defend Christianity. And every war brought great personal suffering.
As far as I can tell, there are 4 generations of military men in my family. I broke the mold, thank god, by screwing up my attempt to get into the airforce. First the men of my paternal line fought for Scotland, then England and empire and then Australia – at the bequest of America. My grandfather was in charge of a tank troop in Vietnam and experienced and witnessed terrible things. He witnessed two terrible accidents which saw the death of many of his own men and he witnessed the destruction of what he felt was a beautiful country and beautiful people. Years later he returned to Vietnam with my father and was greatly relieved to see that they now had good schools, hospitals, teachers, doctor roads and governance. When he left Vietnam, he felt a terrible guilt at having brought so much destruction to Vietnam. For all the horror he witnessed, it was his own personal part in the war that bothered him most. My grandfather was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and at almost 88, continues to have flashbacks now and then. As you’ll hear from the audio below, he is very uncomfortable getting into the nitty gritty of what he experienced.
While in Vietnam my grandfather lost his best friend in a very nasty accident. When he returned he and my father became ‘best mates’ and years later when I was studying Gestalt Therapy and doing my own psychotherapy as preparation for my own psychotherapy practice, I discovered just how significantly my grandfathers loss, had impacted on my own life. The greatest revelation came through a group work practice called Orders of Love; through which I discovered how my grandfathers loss had changed my fathers behaviur and relationship with myself and my mother. During this process i did some very significant healing, that I believe also effected my grandfather (who was thousands of kilometers away) through what Rupert Sheldrake has called Morphic Resonance. I became so interested in this method of working with constellations in the family system, that I went on to use it in almost all of my psychotherapy work with others. Understanding how my grandfathers experiences had effected my own life, helped me to understand transgenerational loss, grief , trauma and addictive behaviours. As a result, I developed new ways to help myself heal and developed a whole theory and set of tools to work with family systems. One day I hope to share what I learned in a book.
In addition to my grandfathers experience of war my father was involved in supporting the war effort in Vietnam, when he served at RAAF Base Butterworth in Penang, Malaysia. My father was a ground engineer and helped service many of the RAAF aircraft that were flying in Vietnam. One of the side effects of being posted in Malaysia, was that my mother developed a major depression. The RAAF’s response to this was to send her to Singapore where she was seen by a psychiatrist who heavily medicated her and made her feel incredibly guilty for being unwell. As a result of my mothers difficulties, my father was reposted at RAAF Edinburgh in South Australia. My mothers depression continued on and off for much of the next decade. In addition my dad was sent away on many long trips doing maritime surveillance in P-3C Orions, which had a profound impact on my mothers sense of loneliness and her ability to raise 2 young children. My sister and I also struggled to cope with our dad away so much. Later when my father started work with Cathay pacific in Hong Kong my mother left, unable to cope with my father’s interest in other women and being away for long periods of time. My mother returned to Australia and as the years went by, she became very unwell and has struggled to survive these last 3 decades.
Of course without my families military experience, I would have had a completely different life and be a different person. And I would have little or no understanding of the impact of loss, grief, trauma and addictive behaviours on family systems. So from that point of view, I’m grateful for the sacrifices my family made (the husbands, wives and children) and the path they chose. But I am not alone in my experiences of suffering and almost all military families have been effected in dramatic ways, by the experience of war and serving in the military. Jan, you know exactly what I mean hey !
PS. If you’d like me to talk more about Orders of Love, family constellations, family systems or healing with constellation methods or tools, let me know and I’ll make a monologue about it.