My monster is roaring. I’m trying to pound it back into my gut or heart or wherever it usually sits quietly playing with or sleeping on its wealth. Later I will probably feed it booze to shut it up.
Booze works nicely. I’ve not shed the inner voice that tells me that I use booze as a crutch, that it’s one of my sinful passions. It renders me a sinner after the second drink and that shuts up my monster.
My monster roars now because of all the BS, the lies by omission or the willfulness of others who cowboy the world.
Some portion of the population doesn’t concern itself with moral injury, my monster is hollering. It kills with its carelessness. The parents who take their kids on vacation during the school year, when the kids are failing all their courses. The people who excuse themselves from masking or hand washing or vaccinating because they think health is entirely individual. But my monster is mad right now at the ones who believe that is their personal choice and yet like to use “life” and “abortion” to try to trump any conversation about how to vote.
My monster gives me a fever and makes my heart race. My monster needs prayer, but I tried. I tried all through church. Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner. I tried praying to quiet the sense that most everyone was staring at me. Why is she masking today? Now that we don’t have to mask. I read the directive, I scream inside. I read what it said and what the priest said about the spirit of it. Mask if you are not vaccinated. I read what nurses wrote for the past year about losing their hope and goodwill as they watched their patients die, one after another, each person’s death taking a part of their own main continent, their soul, because no man or woman is an island. Death after death angry and desperate families, dementia and depression, addiction and despair chipped away at them. In this week of May 2021, the NY Times reported that almost Six hundred people are still dying each day in the USA. It’s 1400 less than a few months ago. It’s still a huge loss. There is physical death still and…
There is such a thing as soul death. Does it start with an infection from moral injury? The soldier sent to the front over and over, killing and being maimed, losing his conscience as he kills, injured as a trade for this and the only ethic is patriotic might? – Please don’t rebut with the Holocaust. We fought for that moral good once and ignored it a thousand times over in Rwanda, in our own nation’s treatment of Native Americans, with the Rohinga and the Uegers, in waiting decades to have a president say “genocide” about Armenians.
About moral injury: I’m just being initiated into the term, which will probably be overused in short order. Yet there is such a thing as “a deep soul wound that pierces a person’s identity, sense of morality, and relationship to society” and “damage done to the soul” (“What is Moral Injury?”) On the US Veteran’s Administration site, Sonja B Norman and Shira Maguen outline it this way:
In traumatic or unusually stressful circumstances, people may perpetrate, fail to prevent, or witness events that contradict deeply held moral beliefs and expectations (1). When someone does something that goes against their beliefs this is often referred to as an act of commission and when they fail to do something in line with their beliefs that is often referred to as an act of omission. Individuals may also experience betrayal from leadership, others in positions of power or peers that can result in adverse outcomes (2). Moral injury is the distressing psychological, behavioral, social, and sometimes spiritual aftermath of exposure to such events (3). A moral injury can occur in response to acting or witnessing behaviors that go against an individual’s values and moral beliefs.
My problem is how often I feel pulled into commission and omission as I do now, feeling betrayed and confused by the urgent need for protecting the vulnerable from illness, or at other times the urgency of feeding, housing and providing healthcare for those that Reagan-era Americans neighbors called “lazy” or said were bilking the system. Or protecting the spiritual, social and emotional identity of those who are not heterosexual or in heterosexual relationships (anyone who identifies as LGBTQ or anyone who is monastic or asexual). Why are these my moral values and ethics? That’s about training my monster, because a long time ago, my monster had a lot of anger about lazy poor people or addicts or “the gays.” I was raised that way, then I learned lessons that utterly humbled me.
When my monster howls, I am about to be eaten, inside out. And part of me will be spiritually sick. I will fight the infection in my bowels. I will fight some level of depression, sometimes crippling, sometimes manageable. I might die, or some part of me might have to change.
I don’t know which. I cried angry grieving tears as I left church today. I shifted my anger and burden to my sister, an ICU nurse whose moral injury is first degree, whereas my is more sympathy pangs. I asked her, should I keep trying to be the example, to do the right thing? I did the work to heal and protect myself up to now. I masked, distanced, isolated, read and learned how the science changed. Now the science says I can unmask, but others are at risk. What is the message that will be for the greater good? Unmask and let the deniers deny?
My sister typed back. “You can’t control what others do. You have the vaccine. You can unmask.”
I can’t control what others do. She will go on losing patients to COVID, fighting for their lives, giving away a piece of herself week after week. I can’t control it or save her. I will that none of her should have to die like that, but I am going to have to let that hope die.
I can’t find joy in that. I’m not ready to celebrate unmasking yet.
Maguen, Shira, PhD and Sonja B. Norma, PhD. “VA.gov: Veterans Affairs.” Moral Injury, 20 Apr. 2020, www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treat/cooccurring/moral_injury.asp.
“What Is Moral Injury.” The Moral Injury Project What Is Moral Injury Comments, moralinjuryproject.syr.edu/about-moral-injury/.