Come in hot, boys. The enemy is all around.
During this past weekend, I was witness to a sight I never thought I’d see in my lifetime; the aftermath of war, seen through post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Following Mark’s wedding, I had the opportunity to sit and have a few beers (or many) with a war veteran that fought in the Vietnam war.
Sitting around a campfire, I listened to him tell stories I wished were fictional…but were rooted in truth. He shared stories about witnessing his good friends lose their lives in horrific methods.
“No man should have to go through what we went through.”
It was the first time in my life that I witnessed, firsthand, the trauma and emotional destruction caused by war. He shared his stories with another veteran, who shared with me that he had killed more men, women, and children than he could count.
Death. You could see it in their eyes.
Hollywood glamorizes war; making its participants seem like unbreakable heroes. The men I saw were broken individuals; tears running down their eyes, while long strands of snot dripping out of their noses, holding hands as they comforted each other in the aftermath of the destruction they saw in their lives.
Son, we were soldiers. We did things…we did what we had to do.
As a man, I see a world that glamorizes the role of power through destruction. There’s a lot more tax funding for initiatives that ravage nations with bombs than in creating a sustainable world that provides a high quality of life for all who live in it.
Men aren’t encouraged to share their emotions. Rather, they’re trained to view them as ‘sissy’ parts of their being that need to be covered up with tough-guy antics, firepower, trucks, and chauvinistic attitudes towards women.
Never date a man that doesn’t give himself permission to feel his emotions. How can you receive emotional support from somebody that doesn’t know what it means to feel, because they haven’t given themselves permission to understand their own emotion?
Never give a sword to a man that doesn’t know how to dance.
Theres nothing special or powerful about being a ‘mans man’ with a truck and a gun rack in the back. Rather, this shows me an individual that still hasn’t grown up from the playground and still clings to their toys. Trucks and guns are great fun, but should never be considered legitimate functions of ‘being a man’. It’s easy to hide behind a mask of masculinity, while incredibly difficult to know how to properly navigate your own emotional energy.
What I saw this weekend was a shake-up for me. It was witnessing, first-hand, the ramifications of a world that’s controlled by corrupt politicians who send young men to fight their wars for them; satisfying their greed while leaving broken pieces of men, women, and children in their wake.
I’ll never forget the tears I saw stream down the faces of these men, as they shuddered and tried to reconcile the unspeakable experiences they witnessed.