I am not a veteran, so I do not know this Moral Injury first-hand, but an inkling of it came to me early from my older brother when I was still in high school. My brother and his two buddies from a religious school they all attended wanted eventually to be ministers. But before that, they decided to volunteer to serve in Vietnam. They had all watched plenty of WWII movies and TV and thought they could come back war heroes. My brother liked to picture himself returning home whistling that tune from Bridge on the River Kwai. They each chose a different service: one enlisted as a Marine, one Airborne, my brother chose the Cavalry, which in Vietnam mostly meant helicopters instead of horses. The dream died quickly because the Marine shipped out first and died in action within his first two weeks. My brother got the news of the death of his best friend just as he finished Basic Training and before he shipped out. The body even got home in time for the funeral to be one of the last things my brother did before shipping out for Vietnam. The dream had quickly turned into disillusionment, and it only turned bitter during his tour of duty. He managed to survive a whole whole year in Vietnam. He didn’t talk a lot about it when he came back, but it was obvious everything about his dreams and ambitions was dead. He did tell me a few stories about being there, and they were bitter, more about survival that fighting any enemy. One detail that stood out for me was the shooting down of a friendly helicopter because they knew they would have to stop and guard it rather than have to keep walking through the countryside in the blistering heat. My brother died in a motorcycle accident within weeks of returning home. I’ve long wondered if that wasn’t an impromptu suicide, because the accident seemed like it should have been avoidable. His dreams of being a war hero had been crushed from the start and he was left bitter by the reality of just trying to survive a year's tour of duty in a war where nothing made sense. It was apparent that his own life no longer made sense to him.
His experience and story were influential for me, the younger brother, leading to registering for the draft as a Conscientious Objector. When I was going through the draft registration process as described in the American Friends Service Committee Handbook for Conscientious Objectors, part of if involved finding people to write letters of recommendation. I met and talked to a couple of ministers, one Catholic, one Episcopal, as well as one of my college professors. But I had grown up in the same church that sponsored the school that my brother and his buddies had attended. Two of my father’s brothers were even ministers in that denomination, one back in Texas who I didn’t know that well, but also one who lived in California, where I lived, who I knew fairly well. I wrote my California uncle asking if he would write me a letter of recommendation to the draft board for my CO application. It was only then that I found out that my dad’s two minister brothers had both been conscientious objectors in WWII. The had both served as non-combatants, clerks or some such, in uniform but unarmed. I only then found out that the church I had been raised in (which I had left in my early teens), the church that my father’s family all belonged to, had a long history of pacifism. The pacifism seemed to be forgotten sometime after the end of WWII. Perhaps the American glorification of veterans and the military had made people in the church ashamed to be pacifist, because they had obviously not preached pacifism to my brother and his buddies. They had not preached pacifism to me, even though I had found it on my own. The sacralization of the military had invaded the denomination.
My uncle’s letter of recommendation was probably golden to the draft board and insured that I would be granted my full conscientious objector status for the draft. The combination of my brother’s experience and my own process in deciding not to serve has left me with a deep suspicion for the glorification of the military expressed in the United States. I don’t blame the soldiers. They respond to what appears to be an honorable deal offered them by their country. But I feel like the country betrays them and betrays the principles we are supposed to value as a nation. The soldiers shouldn’t be blamed for the depth of their disillusionment and Moral Injury. We need to accept the blame for what our country does on other shores. We need to stop pretending like wars are a useful political tool and try harder to make the world work without them. Until we do rethink our country’s relationship with war, soldiers will be bearing the brunt of what should be our nation's Moral Injury.
When I read this:
"...As Rudolf Steiner pointed out, the buying and selling of human labor is a form of slavery. In the past the whole person was bought and sold, whereas now only an essential part of him is still on the trading block: his labor." I could not help remembering that some in some way progressive people where against the abolition of slavery because they where afraid that in that case slaves would be rented instead of owned therefore, nobody would care about them.
Dear Southern Cross, I would call what is called AI, binary technology. As Goethe said , ’ the unnatural, that too is natural’. It is because it is binary that it is best helping humanity, rather than replacing humans. And it is worth noting that many jobs are created in binary technology, as well as jobs lost to machines.
RE: Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe
What a beautiful poem! Describes so well, so simply yet so completely, something so immense, that one asks oneself if only the two involved are the only ones to rejoice. Thanks to the poem, we have all been invited to the venue and can resonate with it. But there is even a wider repercussion:
According to Rudolf Steiner, the love among humans is not something that belongs to them alone. It radiates out to the hierarchies, and feeds them as well!
"The love between man and woman (I infer he refers to romantic love of any nature among human beings) is the food of the Gods - Nectar and Ambrosia".
Thanks for the comment, Federico. However, you may be misreading the poem --- or I am, because I'm not sure. If it were any other poet, I wouldn't think this: Is it possible that the last verse is macabre? I mean it is Poe, after all.
Frank Thomas Smith [ed]
FH: OMG I read it romantically.… Misinterpreted!
I wouldn't choose the word "macabre" to describe Poe laying next to the cold tomb by the sea, but rather "tragedy". And that is what makes it "tragic-romantic" and so powerful. (Otherwise, why would you have chosen to publish this particular poem?). Poe, once and again, in his works refers to the darkness of death, and entombment - buried alive, etc - because he cannot find belief in the spiritual world (or maybe he can, but uses the indirect method in his stories). He speaks of souls who doubt the existence of life in the spirit, who cannot find the resurrection. He even speaks of that world as one of envy (The Seraphins took my Angel away out of jealousy).
And the fact that he is tormented by Annabel Lee´s untimely death, and can find no other solace than standing by the sepulcher, just comes to show that this poem is the quintessence of earth-borne romantic love. That´s why it´s so lovely and painful at the same time...
His interpretation that "so-called" Divinity took her away from him is, for me, just a temper tantrum of Poe´s. Base on my feelings, I have to stand by my previous affirmation and enhance on it, by saying this poem of Poe´s is a masterpiece of romantic love, depicting the pain of earthly love, without the consolation of life in the spirit after death.
FTS: You ask: (Otherwise, why would you have chosen to publish this particular poem?) A short time ago my wife's nephew and his wife were here visiting. Her name is Anabella. When introduced, I asked if she knew Poe's famous poem. She did not, so I promised to look for a Spanish version and send it to her. I found the translation quickly, and decided to put the original as well as the translation -- which is quite good I think -- in SCR, because I had long admired the poem, mostly for its simplicity and passion. However you, recanting, say: "... and [he] can find no other solace than standing by the sepulcher,..." But he doesn't stand "by" the sepulcher, but
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulcher there by the sea—
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
So I will stick by my macabre opinion, although I admit that I am still not really sure. It may be that Poe wrote it the way he did in order to let the reader chose his/her own interpretation. I have received several other comments, mostly just "beautiful" or "thank you so much". But yours is the only interesting one. I would like to include it in"Letters to the editor", that is. the conversation between us.
FH: I enjoyed the chat and did not notice he lay IN her sepulcre. Macabre for an outside observer but not for him...his life became pointless without her; so he prefers to join her in death. Crazy diamond.
RE: So It Goes
Thank you for this. I am 81, white, southern nurtured and a lawyer. I read Slaughterhouse Five in college at University of Texas in the sixties and then devoured all that he wrote, saw the movie, attended a live presentation of his play. This article struck a chord with me .
Dick Gregg Jr.
America article seems to just skim over the culture divide raging.. The substance of the move to cancel, tear down and shame people is so deeply anti spiritual that it makes me cry out for a return to sanity. It is dogma personified and demonstrates a deep crying out for personal meaning that has been projected outward, where it is ripe for distortion in it's use of utopian generalization. It is truly a sickness masquerading as well meaning do goodery.
Paul and Adriana O'Brien
Thank you for one of the best Steiner article that I have ever read. So much “wisdom” contained in those few words. It also answers and dispels my angst about people I love who have chosen not to believe in the spiritual world. Thank you so much.
That’s pretty good Frank. Love your work. You might be slowing down but the quality remains high.
Thanks for everything over the years.
Your article is well-worth reading again for sheer enjoyment and connecting dots. I have followed Rudolf Steiner’s work since my early 40s, so the delicious ending was expected. I am now 83 yrs old and still on this “middlepath”…. Investigating other spiritual movements for a short while – recently, it’s the ‘I Am’ movement that talks of Saint Germaine and Kathumi and a violet ray. I wonder if you have light to spread on that movement ?
Thank you again for the work you do and have done for so long.
RE: Toto the Fourth
Made me want to cry - there is always hope a long as we breath.
Wie gut, dass du ueberlebt hast!!!!!!!!?
Will there be a part two for this story? I think everyone wants to know what happens next!
Maybe “Toto the Fifth”? [ed]
RE: Refuting Darwin
It is clear that you have not done more than a cursory review of the very complex concept of evolution. What gives you away is your question near the end of your essay: "A problem I see is: Why don’t apes continue to evolve and become more human?“
Like many who think they raise real problems with the Theory of Evolution, you fail to understand that individuals do not evolve; evolution is a process that precedes over generations.
Those who support the involvement of a supernatural being in the formation of the universe often ask: "If humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes?” This is akin to asking: “If descended from my parents, why are my parents still alive?”
The easy way to think of evolution is to image two $10 bags of pennies. Each bag holds 1000 pennies with dates from say 1990 through 2020. Set one bag aside. Take a handful from the other bag and discard all the pennies more than 10 years old. As you do this, this bag of pennies holds fewer and fewer old pennies. After some number of handfuls, all the pennies in this bag will be dated from 2000 through 2020. The population of this bag has changed because of an environmental effect. The other bag still has the same kind of population it had to start with.
This is analogous to two populations of apes, perhaps separated by a mountain range. In one location, food is abundant at ground level. In the other location, little food is available at ground level. Over many successive generations (many successive handfuls in the above example), the apes that feed on the ground are more abundant in one location than in the other. Thus, there is a shift in the nature of the populations just as there was a shift in the average age of the pennies in the above example.
It is interesting that you invoke Popper as his was trying to disprove Darwin as well.
In any event, here are six ways that would falsify evolutionary theory from <https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Falsifiability_of_evolution>. Note that any of these could falsify the theory, but none of them have been shown to occur.
Consequently any of the following would destroy the theory:
- If it could be shown that organisms with identical DNA have different genetic traits.
- If it could be shown that mutations do not occur.
- If it could be shown that when mutations do occur, they are not passed down through the generations.
- If it could be shown that although mutations are passed down, no mutation could produce the sort of phenotypic changes that drive natural selection.
- If it could be shown that selection or environmental pressures do not favor the reproductive success of better adapted individuals.
- If it could be shown that even though selection or environmental pressures favor the reproductive success of better adapted individuals, "better adapted individuals" (at any one time) are not shown to change into other species.
Charles Darwin made the case a little differently when he said, "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case."
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Yes Frank! What a poet: and he was born like this/ he had no choice/ he was born with the gift of a golden voice!