It Really Gets to Me, Our Killing so Many People in Their Homes

Am I Sick?

“The human rights agency Amnesty International has confirmed that 35 women and children were killed following the latest US attacks on an alleged al-Qaeda hideout in Yemen. Cluster bombs. are in the news again, thanks to a recent report from Amnesty International.” ((Cluster Bombs And Civilian Lives: Efficient Killing, Profits And Human Rights, by Ramzy Baroud, Dissident Voice, July 8, 2010.))

It really hurts that we are killing so many of our Muslim brothers and sisters and their kids right in their homes, in their streets, in their own countries. I’ve been reading about Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, wondering why it doesn’t apply to people like me. I’m mentally and emotionally upset about us killing a vast amount of people in their own residences in cities, towns, and the countryside across six Muslim countries (as I put down these words, I notice I’m breathing short, feel a light press of anxiety on the left side of my chest).

For more than fifty years I’ve been reading about, and listening to, news of body counts and bombings (I’m seventy-nine) — fifty years of trying to protect my mind and the bottom of my stomach.

I wonder how many people in the world understand what I have had on my mind and in my stomach off and on for years — I mean, outside of people in the couple of dozen countries actually bombed by us?

How many other Americans feel as bad as I do about it? All this bombing, invading, occupying? It’s always done in our name. Am I oversensitive?

I have always tended to take my responsibilities seriously. As a school boy, when I saw newspaper headlines about death by starvation in China, it would bring to mind the nun who had prepared me, as a seven year old, for my First Holy Communion. Her instruction really stuck in my serious child’s mind, especially the story of  Cain fluffing off God with, “Hey, am I my brother’s keeper?”

I never really recovered from the post traumatic stress from fifteen years of us slaughtering millions of poor Vietnamese in Vietnam and bombing the living hell out of Laos and Cambodia.

A long time before this present decade of anguish over our killing Muslims in a half dozen countries (but not in Saudi Arabia where the 9/11 highjackers came from), my peace of mind had been radically disturbed for having learned the reason for all this mass butchery going on for a half-century, starting with our taking the lives of a couple of million Koreans in Korea.

Each psychological upset led me to do a little research. Confusing reports of why Eisenhower was bombing Laos started me off. Slowly it became a habit to research every news bite explaining why we had to go somewhere on the other side of the world and kill to stamp out communism in little countries, but not the two big ones already governed by communist parties.

It didn’t make me feel any better in my heart to learn that our unimaginably horrible taking of innocent peoples’ lives in smaller countries overseas was in every case brought about by lies that made it acceptable to the American people. Hard working decent people, busy with their personal lives, careers, and families, who simply trusted what each president told them since it was backed up and well explained as being right and necessary on their television, which they trusted even more.

But that knowledge did give me strength, made me angry, and motivated me to tell my family and friends how this enormous death toll was made possible by naively believing astonishing or bewildering news we should have suspected all along. Blatant lies, so easily disproved using the government’s own publications, readily available encyclopedia articles, and just plain common sense.

So for a few years, thinking that if a stupid guy like me could uncover all these pretty obvious lies, I could help spread an opposition to these wars by passing the simple truth around to people more intelligent than me and capable of doing something about this vicious mass murder.

What astounded me was the reaction from colleagues and friends. “Not interested in politics.” “What are you talking about?” “Have my own problems.” Only a few were willing to at least listen, maybe a couple answering, “Well, maybe we make mistakes sometimes, but we’re trying to do the right thing over there.”

My brother stopped corresponding for three years, angry that I was “duped by communist propaganda” about the Vietnam war. (After the war, he apologized, agreeing that I was right, but I’m afraid he still goes on believing most of what is said on the networks’ evening news.) Last year my loving sister asked me to take her off my mailing list — I was outraging her and her Texas fundamentalist husband.

Apart from two very politically aware sons, and a politically concerned nephew, it was  only my 9th-grade educated immigrant Mom who understood, was upset, and would complain on her own about “the terrible things the government was doing.” Seems the more government-sponsored education we get, the more we are purposely misinformed and made to accept our government’s homicidal violence. (A perception, by the way, that logically leads to the awareness that our government is not of, for, or by the people.)

People at work (in the orchestra) did not want to hear about “US foreign policy.” If pressed regarding our responsibility as citizens, many would answer, “Look! I vote in elections.” My unrecognized PTSD over a war on the other side of the world was widely regarded as a sign of mental unbalance, a personality problem.

The next most important sensitizing influence after that nun was a junior high Afro-American civics teacher, “If you have free speech and you don’t speak up, you are guilty of complicity in the crimes of your government, and ignorance is no excuse in a court of law.” So off and on I took graduate level history courses at four universities and an institute in Germany.

Music was miraculous, and performing was a wonderful way to make a living, but awaiting the downbeat at the Mostly Mozart Summer Festival, looking out at an audience of professionals, I would be thinking that right about this time, 8 PM, 8 AM morning in Asia, the planes were taking off in Guam for high-altitude bombing over Vietnam while we listened to Mozart just the way the Nazis had listened to Wagner.  I would get a burning feeling beneath my feet to stand up and say, “Hey, could we take a break? The planes are taking off to bomb right now and Mozart didn’t have that in mind as he composed this music.”

But I didn’t stand up, and when Martin Luther King said “Silence is treason,” it was me he was talking about.

I’m sure Mozart would have approved of the “let’s stop and consider what we are doing” tone of the articles Jay Janson, historian, has been composing. I figure it’s my therapy for my present Muslim killing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD initially was called “Shell Shock’. It got broadened to apply to people listening to the awful explosions from afar. Perhaps the medical profession, itself, will come to diagnose people like me, wincing for imagining the agony in death throes of fellow human beings, (reported in daily AP Press reports from the Middle East as a “success”), as suffering from Post Traumatic Stress.

Would psychologists and mental health experts deny that millions of kind and compassionate Germans experienced a type of PTSD as their German armies invaded dozens of nations? Or was it only the many millions of Russians having their families and homes blown to bits who experienced PTSD?

Treating sensitivity to the pain of others as a serious malady would lead to considering how to prescribe cures.  It would require society to halt the dropping of explosives on people or perform some sort of lobotomy on those suffering from PTSD that would permit the patients to adjust to exploding human beings.

Since society in the self-proclaimed “greatest country in the world” has not yet evolved to being able to control its criminally insane, and since lobotomies (except those done painlessly over many years by commercial mass media) are a drastic procedure no longer much in use, therapy must be the answer

In some cases just talking about what’s bothering you can work as therapy. It didn’t work for me in America because it was too difficult to find anyone who would listen. So I began to write.

My first therapy was to become enlightened as to why the killing that was causing my distress was happening. Advanced therapy has become doing everything possible to stop the killing that is bothering me.

Therapy can wind up turning PTS into something useful. The PTS disorder becomes only a relatively easy way to deal with the symptoms of the serious mental illness — War-For-Profit Criminal Insanity (which is probably caused by a prolonged exaggerated life-style of institutionalized greed.)

Therapeutic activism goes beyond being an exercise for the protection of one’s own sanity. It bolsters one’s personal integrity, citizen responsibility and accentuates love of life.

Consider how the “Shell Shocked” people in America feel when looking at the eye-repelling photos of the Holocaust. The obvious reaction is to just punish Germans. But the logical therapy would be to go after the owners of the majority of U.S. banks and industries which backed and invested in turning an initially prostrate Nazi Germany into the world’s foremost military power, fully aware of Hitler’s hatred of Jews and communists and plans for expansion eastward with his armies. All this investment was done right out in the open and is fully recorded for anyone suffering PTSD from remembering the Holocaust to read and identify: Rockefeller, Henry Ford, DuPont, etc.

Had such a course in therapy been completed, and the profiting banking industrialists who backed Hitler punished, this same group of scions of banking might not have been able to pull off a second Holocaust in Vietnam.

Holocaust PTSD therapy for me is to tell all the young folks of the virulent anti-Semitism in the United States before WWII, when I was a child. One didn’t have to be actually Jewish oneself to have been acutely aware of it all around you. Therapy is knowing that Henry Ford’s published writings were required reading for the Hitler Youth organization.

The therapy would have been, and still is, the same for the Vietnam war, the Korean war, the bombing of Lebanon, and the Dominican Republic, Panama, and Cuba invasions.  Identify the bankers and powerful business leaders who required these wars for their balance sheets of profit, and accumulation of capital and resources of the invaded countries to control, and if they are too powerful to imprison, try to prevent them, and the media they own, from promoting future wars.

If you don’t have PTSD, and enjoy your mornings with no disturbing thoughts of some lovable Asian child who had all its mornings suddenly obliterated along with his or her life on earth, by some American operating a weapon of mass destruction thinking he was doing duty in your name, it’s odd that you have continued to read this article.

Maybe even “well adjusted” citizens of the empire have some PTSD lurking in the corners of their minds. Maybe many will someday have an outbreak of PTSD if they happen to do some reading and overcome the severe American disability to put oneself in the shoes of our designated enemies (but not the shoes of their children too small to fit in) or if they happen to think of some lovable Asian child, one of millions, who never got to see a single morning as a grown up, the apple of some mom and dad’s eye, a promise to nation and community, and imagine his or her pathetic cadaver or body parts buried lovingly by parents (if they, themselves, be not exterminated as well by fellow Americans using weapons of mass destruction.)

If the reader has read this far, it is more probable he or she is suffering from the continual Post Traumatic Stress of being a citizen of the blood soaked American empire, or at least uneasy that there is no real secure immunity from a future attack of PTSD — not as long as the sun never sets on the nation’s network of military bases.

Jay Janson, spent eight years as Assistant Conductor of the Vietnam Symphony Orchestra in Hanoi and also toured, including with Dan Tai-son, who practiced in a Hanoi bomb shelter. The orchestra was founded by Ho Chi Minh,and it plays most of its concerts in the Opera House, a diminutive copy of the Paris Opera. In 1945, our ally Ho, from a balcony overlooking the large square and flanked by an American Major and a British Colonel, declared Vietnam independent. Everyone in the orchestra lost family, "killed by the Americans" they would mention simply, with Buddhist un-accusing acceptance. Jay can be reached at: Read other articles by Jay.

2 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Maien said on July 12th, 2010 at 8:38am #

    Just like Western Medicine deals with symptoms, not the actual causes of a health issue, most westerns (first world countries) WILL NOT look at the fact that their daily ‘needs’ are a problem. Remember, somehow western ‘needs’ are so important that the lives, homelands of anyone else do not matter. North American populations especially taught that they are entitled and not responsible for their impact on nature (their god said that they owned everything…or was that the pope speaking for the god). These ‘useless eaters’ are so not self-aware…. that they will not change. And yes, I use the term ‘useless eater’… as it has been applied vociferously to 3rd-world nations … where the labour and resources are stolen leaving the land and peoples devastated. Who are the real useless eaters…. the individuals who waste without thought? or those who have been relentlessly attacked and robbed for centuries. The few westerners who are intelligent responsible human beings (I include myself in this club) will not be able to influence the majority of north-americans. The general population does not want to know how ugly they truly are.

  2. joed said on July 12th, 2010 at 5:22pm #

    I am able to accept all religions even though I consider myself atheist! I have had to struggle and confront my beliefs in order to overcome my inability to accept other people just as they are. I have had a rough time most of my adult life in trying to accept other peoples’ political ideas. but the struggle to overcome the political crap I learned as a child seems never ending but I keep trying.
    Seems the u s govt and its citizens thrive on chaos and death and destruction. Cluster bombs break my heart. Rangers and seals and recon bring me to tears. Reapers. What can I do. I know I cant have a perfect world but does there have to be so very much violence and unkindness?
    Hannah Jelkes’ famous quote, “Nothing human disgusts me unless it’s unkind, violent.”
    Seems any person with empathy and compassion will be suffering from PTSD these days. and it’s not just the death and violence but also the lack of concern by most people and my inability to really make any of the violence stop, except form my own violence. It’s a goddamned mess.