How do we live with the spiritual dilemma of life after war? Making a difference for others is truly “food for the soul.”

by | Jan 26, 2013

Stand up with your community!  Quotes from this website…

“When I joined the Marine Corps, I knew I would kill people. I was trained to do it in a number of ways, from pulling a trigger to ordering a bomb strike to beating someone to death with a rock. As I got closer to deploying to war in 2009, my lethal abilities were refined, but my ethical understanding of killing was not.”

“Many veterans are unable to reconcile such actions in war with the biblical commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” When they come home from an environment where killing is not only accepted but is a metric of success, the transition to one where killing is wrong can be incomprehensible.”

The above quote from a soldier who was responsible and trained to kill without question in the context of war driven by politics, is what troubles the soul so deeply.  The men and women who come home to life after war begin the painful journey of attempting to reconcile what is truly wrong in their hearts, “Thou shalt not kill.”

We are beginning to discuss moral injury as a better way to understand damage to our spiritual being or our soul.  For many, soul repair is either impossible or becomes a lifetime journey of healing.  The worst case scenario is suicide among combat veterans returning home where reconciliation becomes a 24/7 emotional and physical extreme challenge.  The best case outcome for those severely affected by the horror of war is a daily regimen of focusing one’s life 100% on making a difference for others to keep the pain of war at a safe distance.  It appears from all my own research, experience, including extensive studies by mental health experts since the end of the Vietnam War, that those who are able to direct their lives toward the greater good and helping others each and every day do so much better.  A spiritual problem apparently needs a spiritual solution…  The soul is not repaired from the experience of consistent and severe trauma with a diet of alcohol and prescription drugs.  The daily practice of helping others and making a difference in your community in life after war seems to pass the test of healing for the long term.  This kind of outreach requires the discipline and desire to stand with loved ones, friends, family, and community, but never ever alone… While you make choices for your own journey of healing, please remember to be guided by your primary care physician and appropriate mental health professionals. 

My own personal experience has proven this path of healing.  I have observed many others who have suffered from moral injury and PTSD succeed in achieving peace of mind, happiness, and a much more fulfilling quality of life by making life larger than self.  Don’t go it alone…  Making a difference for others is truly “food for the soul.”

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
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