Sunday, September 04, 2011
MILITARY PSYCHOLOGY REPORTS POSSIBILITY OF SOUL
Well, it had to come to this sooner or later. Psychologists are now suggesting – though of course with due scholarly and professional circumspection – that human beings may have a ‘soul’.
Further, that their profession is probably the most capable to deal with this ‘amazing new discovery’.
Clearly neither the Red Queen, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, nor any of the rest of the gang have left the building.
This amazing news was occasioned by military medicine’s ongoing efforts to deal with the stubborn reality of troops’ being seriously impaired simply from the experience of operational-service in Our queasy new-model “humanitarian interventions” and “kinetic military actions”. For the second year in a row more troops have killed themselves than have been killed in the line of duty over there. Further stunning numbers of them are now displaying the many symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).*
Several thoughts come to mind.
First, organized religion has been rather deeply involved in the matter of ‘soul’ for quite some time. In the case, for example, of Catholic Christianity, extending back – not to put too fine a point on it – for two millennia, or about 10 times as long as the United States has existed as a polity. And for at least 1700 years before medical science ceased to be an adjunct to barbering and astrology and 1800 years before psychology began to develop as an organized mode of studying human beings.
Nor can the wisdom of the Hebrew scriptures – extending back a further millennium – be credibly accused of being devoid of profound insight into the human spirit and soul.
Nor can much of the world’s great literature – extending back even further – be said to be ignorant of the ‘soul’.
Nor even philosophers as recent as Camus and his existentialist concerns (as bleak as his Flattened world, un-Accompanied and un-Assisted by any Beyond, turns out to be).
But no doubt the organizational politics of grabbing a new chunk of ‘operating area’ and all the status, authority and funding that goes with it play some role in the cheerible trumpeting by the psychologists that they have come up with yet another new and amazing discovery.
But in the elite realms – now so influential in controlling the ‘discourse’ about human affairs and lives – the necessary ‘secularization’ that constitutes a major element of Correctness absolutely denies any Beyond, especially if that includes the ‘superstition’ and ‘compensatory fantasy’ of a realm beyond or Beyond this now-Flattened, material dimension that is, Correctness insists, the only field of human existence. Naturally, the idea of a God who is also a Person is even more thoroughly not-Correct.
The psychologists thus have set themselves a difficult task: to talk of a ‘soul’ and of a ‘spiritual’ dimension of humans. But only (or merely?) in terms of material science, in a purely and ruthlessly this-dimensional way, without somehow involving the metaphysical questions as to what that soul might be, where it came from, how it operates, how it is sustained, or any of half-a-hundred other profound conceptual matters inherent in the very concept of the human soul.
This, to me, seems like trying to deal with hurricanes without reference to Wind, or claiming to understand the dynamics of sailing ships without reference to Wind. I can’t imagine that the enterprise is going to get very far in an efficacious sort of way.
But that has never stopped such enterprises from grabbing the governmental imagination these days, where economies can be sustained and even expanded without Productivity and wars can be initiated without any demonstrable evidence of a justifying threat.
This being the military, of course, the government is loathe to actually acknowledge ‘religion’ or ‘churches’ as having any real value – that would steer things perilously close to the ‘separation of church and state’. Better to let the psychologists – ‘scientists’ – handle it, so long as they don’t start dragging in any Beyond either as a dynamic operative Ground for the soul or a Source for any ‘therapeutic intervention’. And thus We are back to studying the sailing-ship without reference to the Wind.
Or, like certain ancient Chinese sages, studying the Unicorn to understand how the Horse works. The Unicorn in this image being the thoroughly this-dimensional, totally-autonomous human being now Correctly ‘liberated’ from superstition, fantasy, and the allegedly sentimental idiocies of organized religion.
The Horse in this image being the reality of the human-being comprised of a soul and a body (and perhaps even of a body within a soul), participating both in this-dimension and another, Higher dimension, and engaged purposefully in a highly dynamic if complex relationship with beings and perhaps Being that dwelleth there.
I can’t see this government thing working too well.
But God knows there is a problem in the here and now. Troops are committing suicide more often than they are being killed by enemy action now.
And this despite (or because of?) the fact that the field forces currently deployed are being dosed with more psychoactive drugs than any other troops in this country’s history. See here, here, here, here, and here.
Worse, that these huge and uncontrolled amounts of drug-taking (just talking prescription drugs here, not illegal substances or alcohol) have had (predictably) dangerous and even lethal consequences. See here and here.
But this can only be the hardly unpredictable consequence of the past four decades of child-raising (the earliest cohorts now the parents of the current troops themselves): simultaneously, the government – for political purposes more than anything else – embraced the National Nanny State.
And the Nanny State insists that a) there should be no pain in human life and if you feel some then something is wrong and probably being ‘oppressed’ onto you; b) if you feel pain then that pain can and will be made to stop by actions that do not require you to do anything.
Worse, that c) there is no darkness in you and there shouldn’t be any darkness in life. You can see where children raised with these beliefs (as well as all manner of prescription psychoactive drugs taken for years at a stretch) are not going to be well-prepared for leaving the ‘protected’ harbor of childhood and heading out onto the deeps of adult life (which, in the Correct theory, the Nanny State would also control so as to eradicate challenges and difficulties – which is pretty much like the government saying that it will train naval officers on the assumption that they will never encounter storms, typhoons, rocks, shoals, or any of the other accidents of life on the open sea because the Nanny State will ensure no such experiences arise).
Worse, that d) as above mentioned, there is no Beyond and probably no useful God. But not to worry because the Nanny State will always be with you – God and the saints are pretty much nothing more than some older form of Obi-Wan and the Jedi … and by ridding yourself of those childhood fantasies and superstitions you will ‘grow up’ as easily as snapping your fingers to dispel a silly thought.
And if you can steel yourself to imagine the mushy interior world of children thus raised, THEN realize that this government has sent them into a shooting war. This is the home turf of Ares Ferox et Atrox, where there are all sorts of horrors that are verrrry real, and there are Consequences with a capital-C that demonstrate to you quite undeniably why History comes with a capital-H.
You find yourself suddenly beset by Things That Will Not Go Away, and even discover weaknesses in yourself (where the grade-school self-esteem teachers told you to expect nothing but cheap-grace excellence and wonderfulness) and even darknesses in yourself (ditto).
Worse, you experience uncontrolled darknesses in other people: and in this type of war, that means all the very unhappy folks whom your Nanny government has sent you to invade (although you were told you were going to ‘liberate’ them and would be greeted as liberators).
And you realize, however inchoately, that 1) the Nanny State that seemed so self-assuredly all-powerful and all-knowing back in grade school or - good lord - university cannot control those folks’ darknesses and 2) the Nanny government was so unreliably witless OR so purposely cynical that it sent you into the middle of this mess in the first place. And maybe even that the Nanny government started the whole thing to begin with.
That’s a form of child-abuse of cosmological scope and intensity, I should think, and now of ‘soldier-abuse’.And it is creating not a “threat outside the person” but a “threat inside the person”, as one military medico sagely burbled. This is, perhaps for him and his colleagues, an amazing if disturbing new discovery. Had he never heard of Original Sin? Of the deep-seated and perennial human propensity to somehow fail his/her own best nature and give in to the Dark Side, to what the I Ching has always referred to as one’s own “inferior” aspects? That there is not only evil outside of you but an ever-alive propensity to evil inside you that you must learn to Master (that nasty masculine concept, as Correctness views it)?
(And this is a government that now includes three highly-placed women: Hillary Clinton runs State, Susan Rice is UN ambassador, and Samantha Power is National Security Council Human Rights Director … I have nothing against competent persons of any gender in high government positions, but clearly the National Nanny State and the National Security State have both combined to lead Us into the new era of Go Out and Grab – for ‘humanitarian reasons’, of course.)
Worse even than all that: it is very possible that the United States, in cahoots with other ‘mature’ economies of the West, and the NATO governments who have been without a justifying ‘enemy’ since the USSR signed itself out of existence 20 years ago, having blown their economic wad during the 1980s and 1990s, are now going to be looking to ‘grow’ their economies the easy way: by going out and Grabbing Other Peoples’ Stuff.
It will be done under the Nanny pretextual rubric of ‘humanitarian intervention’ but it will be a Grab, and most likely in countries sitting on top of lots of vital mineral deposits (Afghanistan) or oil (Iraq) or gold and oil (Libya) that are also nicely situated in the resource-thick belt of Eurasian resource-rich lands and perhaps even with an ocean-view and useful deep-water harbors. Come to think of it, large swaths of Africa may be eligible for such 'assistance'. And so a new rush for Africa will develop (the more things change, n'est ce pas?) It wasn't for nothing that the Pentagon recently erected a new Africa Command. But not to worry - there will be no oppressive 'k' in the new Africa Corps.
So whereas at least the Union troops and the Greatest Generation could console themselves that they were indeed suffering in a genuinely Good and Great Cause (and had been raised to call upon a Beyond to bolster their own personal coping resources), the current generation and subsequent generations of troops are going to be able to deploy no such competencies. And will not be able to cooperate with any such Help (although one prays and presumes that God, the Beyond, and all of Them will still be trying to give it).
And worse, instead of all that Help, the troops are getting psychoactive drugs by the bushel-basket, plus enough double-AA batteries to power their electronic amusement devices and personal communication devices, and are apparently now going to be informed – by agents of their Nanny government – that they have a soul but not a God, a spirituality that could be whatever they want it to be but won’t under any circumstances connect them to any Help beyond their own poor power to add or detract.
Lovely. The drugs will continue, buttressed now by happy-face Power-Point presentations by ‘providers’ who themselves have probably been raised in the same Flattened world and whose ‘training’ in all this soul and spirit stuff extends no further than the most recent Pentagon how-to directive and handy instructional manual.
The state of the military chaplain corps is a dog that hasn’t been asked to bark too loudly in this dark and stormy night. There are fewer Catholic chaplains, no doubt, and they, like their Church, have been whacked over the past 20 years by the Fundamentalist Ascendancy that brought neocon, patriotistic chaplains into power, the feminist Ascendancy that brought feministically-concerned females into power, and the ever-reliable agitations of the sex-abuse Mania.** And I would imagine that many of the mainline Protestant chaplains come from churches and ecclesial polities that pretty much gave themselves over to this-dimensional Correctness and the secular Nanny world long ago. There may be some Wiccans in the mix as well, who at least can use the term ‘goddess’, but also have a tendency to sacralize rocks, trees, and sylvan glades.
We are entering an awful new era in Our history. Scarcity, rather than the old Abundance, will now drive an ugly species of military action that regresses matters back to the 19th-century Great Power games, requiring not a broad-based citizen-force engaged competently in a Great and Just Cause, but rather an expeditionary gendarmerie (perhaps mercenary rather than Citizen-based) that must go to other lands and take their stuff, probably creating a great deal of blowback and mutual killing in the process.The Godless Happy-Face Powerpoint ‘solution’, which now has to deal with all that plus the already-rampant consequences of excessive drugging of the troops, is a pathetic response to the profound issues, the profound realities and Realities, involved. The Consequences will come home to all of Us.
And thus Our troops are going to be doing more killing. And not the stand-up, in-your-face, soldier-to-soldier killing of prior wars but rather – and the Vietnam vets experienced this – the killing of women and children either accidentally, or out of uncertainty as to whether they too are the ‘enemy’, or simply out of some berserker rage and lust-for-blood that has a tendency to visit all such fraught battlefields.
And yes: this is going to create ‘moral pain’ or even ‘spiritual pain’. For which the psychologists can and will offer nothing except ‘symptom suppression’ or – as the songster had it some decades ago – “Make the Pain Go Away”. When really, alas, it will be a matter somehow involving sinfulness if not outright sin.
But if We are still actually a democracy, then We can exercise some control over a National Nanny State and National Security State government that seems not to have the wit or willpower to steer Us well through the intensifying storm.
Or We can let all these troops be sent forth on Our word to Grab Stuff for Us, lest We have to put up with sweat and scarcity once again.
But if that’s what We decide, let nobody bray piously that such a selfish and violent course of action be God’s will.
*A brief history of the PTSD diagnosis: Throughout the 1970s psychology and psychiatry tried to come to grips with the extensive panoply of mental, emotional, and behavioral problems (especially of an addictive and anti-social nature) that seemed to plague Vietnam vets.
Eager to help and get involved, the professional community voted in a new diagnosis (PTSD) in 1980, including it in the ever-growing collection of ‘official’ diagnoses collected in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual” (DSM, now in its 4th-Revised edition, with a 5th theoretically due out next year).
There was a great deal of justification for looking at this phenomenon among the Vietnam vets. Postwar complications had always been evident in American troops; as far back as the Civil War some vets were said to have “soldier’s heart”, through which, somehow, the sufferer was seen to have been so seriously un-balanced or thrown out of whack as a human being by his experience in that war’s combat that he could not adjust to civilian life or conduct a mature and successful adult civilian life of love and work.
There were problems, however, from the outset. First, it was difficult to distinguish whether the ‘trauma of combat experience’ was the originating event, or whether there were latent or obvious pre-existing structural deficiencies in the self that, under the pressure of combat experience, were catalyzed into a florid phase that essentially overwhelmed the self’s coping mechanisms.
Additionally, there was the complication that many of the obvious behavioral markers, especially addictive or anti-social behaviors, hinted strongly at some pre-existing ‘issues’ which military combat service had exacerbated rather than ‘caused’.
Further, addictive behaviors such as alcoholism and drug-abuse had long been recognized as particularly insidious phenomena operating in a human life: not simply a medical-biological affliction such as a ruptured appendix or a broken leg, these addictions seemed to engage all the other sub-systems of the self – emotional, psychological, and even moral or characterological – in a concerted effort by the sufferer to deny the existence of the affliction, or even to ‘protect’ the affliction or to ‘justify’ it, over the course of years and decades, despite powerful evidence that they were indeed ‘afflicted’. Often the entire personality was skewed – you could say deranged – in a concerted and sustained effort to avoid the reality of the sufferer’s own condition as being based somehow within him. A respect for and competence in distinguishing truth and assessing oneself honestly were very often twisted beyond recognition by sufferers who were somehow almost intractably fixed on ‘protecting’ the very phenomenon that was effectively wrecking his life.
Rather quickly, pressure arose to extend the PTSD conceptualization from combat-troops to any troops who had served in Vietnam, and then to any troops who had served anywhere, whether they experienced actual combat operations or not. The very reality of military life – in peacetime as well as wartime – began to be accepted as potentially ‘traumatizing’.
Even more difficult was the blending of the PTSD movement with a curious but deeply influential cultural phenomenon that probably had something to do with rise of ‘sensitivity’ and ‘victimism’ during that decade: a sufferer who reported ‘pain’ of any sort had to be believed, although ‘pain’ is a profoundly liquid and subjective phenomenon, for which nothing short of the Vulcan Mind-Meld or one of Dr. McCoy’s whizzbang diagnostic geegaws can provide definitive objective medical evidence. It became almost impossible for any therapeutic interview to conclude that the ‘pain’ was not based in any evident reality: to suggest to a person complaining of ‘pain’ that no evidence of a pain-causing factor could be found would be to ‘blame the victim’ or ‘re-victimize the victim’ or deny the victim his/her ‘voice’.
The PTSD concept was a brave attempt but 30 years and more down the road it is still very much a work in progress in terms of conceptual coherence, conceptual integrity, accuracy, reliability, and validity. From a ‘medical’ ground wherein any emotional or mental complications could be viewed as primarily sequaelae of a provable and demonstrable actual event, the field changed to the ‘psychological’, where there were not necessarily any observable or confirmatory actualities to work with; much depended on the individual’s own claims about interior experiences … which is not often the most predictable or solid ground – especially if it is pretty much the sole ground – on which to base a diagnosis and devise an effective therapeutic regimen.
Then, during the 1980s, the PTSD concept – originally conceptualized as a way to get a diagnostic grasp on the effects of combat ‘trauma’, and difficult enough to accomplish in even that limited area of causality – was suddenly ‘borrowed’ by other interests and applied to their own favored concerns and agendas: thus, most significantly, ‘sex’ was considered ‘trauma’, as well as a host of other more or less predictable and conventional experiences (and mishaps) of civilian life. Before long non-military psychologists and an increasing pandemonium of less-well professionally grounded practitioners were discovering ‘trauma’ and thus PTSD everywhere.
And the media lapped it up like catnip, finding that ‘stories’ by ‘sufferers’ made for much more telegenically gripping ‘news’ than some accredited professional drily discussing the complexities of the case.
None of which is to deny the possibility of PTSD, especially as the result of a genuinely overwhelming experience, whether isolated or sustained. But it is by its nature, now, a phenomenon tremendously dependent on the sufferer’s own subjective self-reporting – which is a dangerously soft ground on which to conduct any scientific method that seeks factual accuracy in order to deliver therapeutic efficacy.
And, even more difficult to assert nowadays, there remains the rock-ribbed reality that when exposed to an experience, some individuals will experience it as ‘traumatic’ and suffer or report PTSD-type symptoms, and yet others will not … which suggests that personal competence or interior make-up play some highly significant role in who experiences ‘pain’ and who doesn’t. Which is so highly not-Correct a reality as to be almost unutterable; byzantine levels of circumlocution are now required professionally to point this out without falling afoul of the tripwires of ‘victimist’ offense and outrage at ‘blaming’ the individual or even placing some responsibility on the individual.
My own thought here is that in light of the above complications – and they are profound – there would be great pressure on practitioners with prescribing authority to over-rely on increasingly complex psycho-active drugs simply to reduce the symptoms, thereby avoiding the frakkulent dangers of trying to plumb the causes of the sufferer’s problem (let alone entertain ‘doubt’ as to the sufferer’s ‘report’ of ‘pain’). A society widely dependent upon medications to effectively handle – or simply tolerate – “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” or the perennial emotional challenges of conducting human life and relationships … is going to start losing significant amounts of vital and essential human resiliency and robustness.
**In regard to the ‘sex’ matter, a very recent (2011) official Navy-Marine stress Study reports that “more than half a sample of women returning from a deployment to Iraq reported deployment-related sexual harassment … analyses revealed that sexual harassment, but not combat exposure, was a unique and significant predictor of post-deployment PTSD symptoms”.
Without getting into all the matters of women-in-the-military, or the curiously intransigent government refusal to allow same-gender units in order to minimize this type of situation, you can see where this mixed-gender scheme, on top of whatever predispositions females may have that may be different from males and may even possibly create greater vulnerability to war as it plays out in the new Age of Invasive Grab, can only be adding an additional and lethal (and I think utterly unnecessary) level of complication to what is already a frighteningly dangerous situation for the troops and the mission as well as for their families at home and the country generally.
In this acute article from Counterpunch, Rev. William E. Alberts exposes another Army initiative to somehow draft ‘spirituality’ and God by oh-so-selectively cherry-picking elements of ‘religion’ that support the type of soldierly behavior the Army is desperately looking for nowadays.
‘Spiritual fitness’ is part of being “psychologically resilient”, which is really what the Army is looking for.
As one Army honchette burbles authoritatively: “Spiritual people make better soldiers … [because they] place mission first … never accept defeat; never leave a fallen comrade. Those kinds of things require you to have a belief in something bigger than yourself.”
German soldiers of that infamous 12-year period in the mid-20th century did those same things, alas. Genuinely religious and spiritual Christians place God first, not the military mission (what, after all, would God say about the Grab War Era just dawning?). In fact, you could say that military necessity acts here as a sort of active parasite, seeking to take advantage of the notable self-strengths of the genuinely and maturely committed believer and subverting them to the purposes of the military agenda (which, increasingly, no longer even modestly resembles God’s work).
The firmly committed, strongly Shaped human Self that is the fruit of a well-grounded religious and spiritual formation is indeed one of the unsung wonders of human existence (though so lethally deconstructed and devalorized by the very secular-liberal elite culture that is now desperately trying to revivify it, like Stalin suddenly re-opening the Russian Churches as the Germans advanced voraciously into the USSR). But such a Self is also going to judge according to God’s standards, and not the Pentagon’s – do these honchos and honchettes realize what they’re fiddling with here?
My bet is they have no intention of implementing an in-depth program of spiritual development and transformation (after all, the whole idea of the secular State – in both its Nanny and Security versions – is to replace God, religion and spirituality as the Source and Ground of human existence). This initiative is going to go only as far as the military thinks it’s cost-effective, and not a spiritual millimeter farther.
In what I think is the only off-key note in the article, Alberts – perhaps instinctively kow-towing to the Correct liberal pieties – speaks approvingly of the ‘war hero’ status of the Army honchette in charge of this program: one Brigadier General Rhonda Cornum, a medical type. You might ask why a Chaplain isn’t in charge of the spiritual-development initiative, but clearly that wouldn’t fit in with secular elite Correctness. While he reopened the churches, Stalin still made life hell for independent-minded churchmen and made sure his own factotums were ensconced in the pulpits.
If you follow these things, Cornum might ring a bell. In the Gulf War of 1991 she was a Major, traveling in a helicopter that was shot down. She was injured, taken prisoner, threatened with murder, sexually abused (but of course), and lived to tell the tale. And go out, get a ghostwriter, and write a book about it.
Alberts is apparently awed by her military decorations, which include the Legion of Merit (with two oak leaf clusters), the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal (with four oak leaf clusters), and Purple Heart, and POW medal. Her wiki photo shows a bosom-full of ribbons reminiscent of a Soviet field-marshal back in the day. (See her photograph in full panoply here .)
The Legion of Merit has been known - and not infrequently t- to be awarded to high-level retiring officers as a sort of farewell geegaw after which the assembly tastefully adjourns to the reception for the cutting of the retirement cake. Depending on the criteria of the Service involved, the Meritorious Service Medal can be won for all sorts of things including the devising of a new computer program. The POW Medal simply requires being captured by the enemy and the Purple Heart requires you to get shot – by the enemy (although nowadays that standard has been somewhat relaxed).
The Distinguished Flying Cross is of a different order altogether: this is a strong military recognition, awarded to pilots for remarkable skill and heroism in handling their combat aircraft in extraordinarily challenging circumstances. It was an ominous sign of a diluting of standards when, in the interests of an incipient politically-driven feminist expansion into the military, a non-flying and even non-crewmember (she was, after all, merely a passenger on the helo) was given the DFC, presumably in the government’s pandering eagerness to provide ‘heroic’ examples for ‘military women’ and etcetera and etcetera and etcetera.
And on the basis of that type of ‘thumb’ on the scales of who gets medals, the combat ‘oak leaf clusters’ can easily be added on like confetti, the whole giving the impression to the untutored eye of mammoth military accomplishment and extraordinary heroism.
But – if you’ll pardon the foray into the lore of military medals and awards – Cornum’s rank and assignment to head up this ‘spirituality’ thing is not really so surprising. Spirituality, like heroism, is clearly fungible to the modern Correct military mind and also to the secularizing and Flattened elites of radical feminism – and she may well pray with the ball-player from the old Saturday Night Live that ‘besibol been bery bery good to meee’.
If there are aspects of ‘spirituality’ that can be shoe-horned into service in the service of some other agenda’s objectives, then how different is that, really, from bemedalling and promoting this or that politically favored person for purposes that have no relation to the genuine purposes of rank, medals, and ‘heroism’? ‘Ideals’ are, famously, merely semantic engines of oppression and it is an undying source of delight for transgressive and deconstructive types when they can – with the help of pandering politicians – screw with ideals for their own pet purposes and agendas.
‘God’, like Cornum’s medals, is just a ‘whatevvvverrrrr’ to be subverted and turned to one’s own purposes.But in a hell-hot irony, a god that ‘fungible’, a god that invertebrate, is going to be of no use to soldiers lacking the profound Grounding and Shaping of a genuine spirituality and possessing no working familiarity with – if I may – the actual, genuine, living God. A Gumby-like god – convenient for Correct political machinations and calculations because it is so shapelessly adaptable - is not going to provide the strength that a relationship with the Real McCoy provides and has provided over the millennia.
I recall an essay Umberto Eco wrote a few decades ago entitled “Travels in Hyperreality”; he had come to the US to have a look at America’s curious love-affair with fantasy and ‘authentic reproductions’ – and in doing so visited Disneyland, a bunch of fantasy-themed motels and smaller parks, and Disneyworld, with a stop-off at New Orleans (of happy memory) which was an actual and real city that somehow made its living off the fantastic.
If you are on the real Mississippi, he said, and the captain mentions that – say – there are alligators in the river, you still might not see any since ‘reality’ doesn’t always perform on cue the way we’d like it to. On a Disney ‘jungle river’ however, if the captain says that there are alligators in the river you can be damn sure that within a moment a large, authentic mechanical and ‘lifelike’ reproduction of an alligator would suddenly poke its snout out from the water or waddle along the ‘shore’.
This is not such a good thing, Eco thought. Americans start to form the unexamined assumption that manipulated-fantasy offers more ‘real life’ than Real Life itself. Thus they not only lose the ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality, but they actually prefer fantasy to reality.
Give some thought, if you wish, as to how that insight has become operative in the national life and mind. And in its soul.
By the time the Army finds this out … well, it won’t be Cornum and her enablers who come home shattered in heart and soul or – perhaps – in a box.
A ‘spirituality’ without Spirit is hardly sufficient to face the Vale of Tears. People sought God’s help and guidance because their ‘boat was so small’, facing the monstrous waves of life. What the Army is suggesting here is closer to some form of self-induced self-delusion, which keeps things pretty much limited to the small-boat that you were desperately trying to get help with in the first place. In that sense ‘spirituality’ as the Army is trying to use it here is merely another form of ‘drug’, and one that seeks to eliminate the symptoms (anxiety, helplessness, terror, guilt) without addressing the cause. Phooey. And this is even more true in the awe-full precincts of combat – especially in the Age of Grab – than it is in the already frightening civilian world of today in these parts.
And the Pentagon band will play on.