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wmtc: war resister ryan johnson needs our help

Our friend Ryan Johnson, a war resister, is now in military prison.

Ryan and his partner Jenna Johnson lived in Canada for more than 11 years. After running out of court challenges, and exhausted from living in limbo for more than a decade, the Johnsons returned to California, and Ryan turned himself in.

Ryan . . . → Read More: wmtc: war resister ryan johnson needs our help

wmtc: what i’m reading: the evil hours, a biography of post-traumatic stress disorder

The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an outstanding book — meticulously researched, but written in a compelling, accessible style, and with great humanity and compassion.

Author David J. Morris unearths the social and cultural history of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the fourth most common psychiatric disorder in the US. He surveys the potential treatments. He explores the role of social justice in our understanding of PTSD.

But above all, Morris confronts the meaning of trauma, in society and in his own life. Morris was a U.S. Marine stationed in Iraq. After narrowly escaping death, he returned home questioning everything he thought he knew — and eventually having to face the reality of his own trauma. Morris’ dual role as both researcher and subject give this book a unique power as history, social science, and personal essay.

People have known for centuries, for millennia, that traumatic events produce after-effects, but different cultures in different eras have explained those effects in different ways. The modern history of trauma is linked to the carnage of 20th Century war. And our current understanding of PTSD owes everything to the Vietnam War, and the experience of returning veterans who publicly opposed the war.

In this way, the history of PTSD encompasses a history of 1960s and 1970s peace activism, especially of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, a group that began a sea-change in the culture of the United States. As a student of peace, I found this part fascinating.

Taking this even further, Morris links PTSD and social justice. Powerless and marginalized people are more likely to be traumatized by one or more of the four principal causes of PTSD: war, genocide, torture, rape. Taking a social and cultural perspective forces us to confront a world that causes these traumas. In this view, PTSD is not so much an illness as a moral condition brought on by the worst of human society.

The United States Veterans Administration (VA) sees it quite differently. To the VA, PTSD is strictly a medical condition. And this matters greatly, because research about PTSD is almost entirely funded and controlled by the VA. Explaining trauma as purely medical or biological doesn’t address the causes at all. In fact, it does the opposite — it normalizes PTSD as a natural consequence of unavoidable circumstances.

As for treatment, Morris surveys what’s out there and finds most of it useless. VA hospitals and insurance companies prefer therapies that can be “manualized” — made uniform, with a certain number of treatments and little or no emotional engagement from the therapist. Statistically, these types of therapies appear to be useful — until one learns that the numbers don’t include all the patients who drop out! Talk about cooking the books: everyone for whom the treatment isn’t working or, in many cases, is actually worsening their symptoms, is simply ignored.

Morris himself feels that therapeutic talks with an empathetic person with some training goes further than neuroscience can. “What they [the VA] seem to want instead,” Morris writes, “is mass-produced, scalable, scripted therapies that make for compelling PowerPoint slides.”

Readers of this blog may know that I have PTSD. Much of The Evil Hours brought a shock of recognition — the feeling that someone else is expressing your own thoughts, saying exactly what you’ve been thinking all along. Morris perfectly articulates how trauma plays out in one’s life, the depths of change it brings about.

Morris writes: “We are born in debt, owing the world a death. This is the shadow that darkens every cradle. Trauma is what happens when you catch a surprise glimpse of that darkness.”

In the immediate aftermath of my own trauma, while trying to write about my experience, this is exactly the image I fixated on. We are, all of us, dancing on the edge of a great precipice, usually unaware of how terrifyingly close we are to that edge. Then something happens, and we understand it, not in some theoretical way, but immediately and profoundly, perhaps in a way humans are not equipped to understand. We talk about “the fragility of life” but we don’t know what that is — until we do. Then we spend a lifetime trying to live with the knowledge.

“One of the paradoxes of trauma,” writes Morris, “is that it happens in a moment, but it can consume a lifetime. The choice of how much time it is permitted to consume is usually in the hands of the survivor.”

The Evil Hours may be very useful for people who are figuring out how to stop PTSD from consuming any more of their lives. It is certainly a must-read for anyone interested in the effects of trauma on the human mind. . . . → Read More: wmtc: what i’m reading: the evil hours, a biography of post-traumatic stress disorder

wmtc: the greatest, forever. rest in power muhammad ali.

Revolutionary thought of the day, from a revolutionary American.Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated … . . . → Read More: wmtc: the greatest, forever. rest in power muhammad ali.

wmtc: rest in power, daniel berrigan and michael ratner

The world lost two great fighters for peace and justice this past week.Daniel Berrigan was a lifelong peace activist, a man who was ready and willing to put his body and soul on the line. He was a writer, a thinker, a pacifist, an idealist, a pragmatis… . . . → Read More: wmtc: rest in power, daniel berrigan and michael ratner

wmtc: what i’m reading: the deserters, a hidden history of world war 2

No one knows exactly how many US soldiers deserted from the Vietnam War, nor how many young men resisted conscription by going either to jail or to another country. The most conservative account puts the number at about 50,000, the highest at about dou… . . . → Read More: wmtc: what i’m reading: the deserters, a hidden history of world war 2

wmtc: u.s. iraq war resisters: the struggle continues

Still war resisters. Still in Canada. Still fighting to stay.So far, the change in government hasn’t helped the Iraq War resisters who remain here, nor the ones who were forced out of Canada who would like to return. The Trudeau government could do thi… . . . → Read More: wmtc: u.s. iraq war resisters: the struggle continues

wmtc: u.s. iraq war resisters are still in canada. call on justin trudeau to let them stay.

Remember the war resisters I used to blog about all the time? It may surprise you to learn that many are still in Canada. And are still fighting to stay.For these men and women, it’s as if the recent change of government never happened. Of course I rea… . . . → Read More: wmtc: u.s. iraq war resisters are still in canada. call on justin trudeau to let them stay.

wmtc: iraq war resisters still need your help: tell the liberal government to let them stay

I rarely blog about the War Resisters Support Campaign anymore, but the war resisters are always on my mind. In fact, they’re in my thoughts more than ever, now that the nightmare of the Harper Government has finally ended. With the newly elected Liber… . . . → Read More: wmtc: iraq war resisters still need your help: tell the liberal government to let them stay

wmtc: let them stay week 2015: january 25-31: make your voice heard

Allan guest post

Since September 2014, seven US Iraq War resisters have received negative decisions in their cases. Two veterans were given removal dates (i.e., dates by which they must leave the country). One resister received a stay of removal and the government rescinded the second removal order at the last minute. These reprieves are . . . → Read More: wmtc: let them stay week 2015: january 25-31: make your voice heard

wmtc: u.s. war resister corey glass speaks out from europe

Corey Glass, war resister from Canada by way of Indiana, speaks out from his travels in Europe in the current issue of NOW. I’m not going to bother to tell you that the Iraq War was wrong or quote the UN handbook on refugees, Geneva Conventions, Nuremberg principles or trials.

Nor am I going to . . . → Read More: wmtc: u.s. war resister corey glass speaks out from europe

wmtc: e.u. advocate general ruling strongly supports claim of war resister andré shepherd

The fight for justice for US war resisters took a major step forward yesterday, with a ruling strongly in favour of war resister André Shepherd. In the legal case of U.S. AWOL soldier André Shepherd (37) the European Court of Justice Advocate General, Eleanor Sharpton, today published her final opinion. This official statement contains guiding . . . → Read More: wmtc: e.u. advocate general ruling strongly supports claim of war resister andré shepherd

wmtc: a war resister connects the dots: canada, is this the war you want to fight?

A U.S. war resister in Canada writes in this NOW Magazine. Very soon you will begin to hear about Canadian planes sending “humanitarian aid” of food and medical supplies to those affected by the fighting. . . .

And now ISIL is touted as the new enemy from the darkness as if their emergence was . . . → Read More: wmtc: a war resister connects the dots: canada, is this the war you want to fight?

wmtc: u.s. war resisters in canada are at serious risk. here’s how you can help.

The War Resisters Support Campaign is facing an unprecedented crisis. Since war resister Kimberly Rivera was forced out of the country in September 2012, there had been no movement on any war resister’s case.

Then, within one month, five war resisters received notices that decisions have been made in their cases. Two of these have . . . → Read More: wmtc: u.s. war resisters in canada are at serious risk. here’s how you can help.

wmtc: "bogus" refugees and queue-jumping: stephen harper’s campaign against a compassionate canada

Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” 1946

Unpacking how this happens, and in how many ways, . . . → Read More: wmtc: "bogus" refugees and queue-jumping: stephen harper’s campaign against a compassionate canada

wmtc: it’s september and u.s. war resisters in canada are at risk for deportation

Two years ago, almost to the day, US war resister Kimberly Rivera and her family were forced out of Canada by the Harper Government. Kim – peace activist, artist, mother, dreamer – crossed the border and was immediately taken away in handcuffs. She served more than a year in prison, separated from her husband and . . . → Read More: wmtc: it’s september and u.s. war resisters in canada are at risk for deportation

wmtc: thank you, charley richardson! your legacy lives on

On Labour Day, I happened to see this on Twitter:

I am on my union’s labour-management committee, the group that meets monthly with management to discuss members’ concerns and try to resolve issues. I was intrigued and followed the link that Rank and File had posted.

To my surprise, the original “how to” advice was . . . → Read More: wmtc: thank you, charley richardson! your legacy lives on

wmtc: things i heard at the library: an occasional series: #15! one that makes me very happy!

The conversation was simple enough.

Teenage girl: “Where is the nonfiction?”

Me: “Nonfiction is upstairs, but it’s organized according to subject. There should be some nonfiction books on the Bingo display.”

Teen: “I think they’re all gone.”

Me: “OK, we’ll find you something. What would you like to read about?”

Teen: “So . . . → Read More: wmtc: things i heard at the library: an occasional series: #15! one that makes me very happy!

wmtc: "just because it’s broken, doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful": ashlea brockway and brokenart mosaics

The Brockway family, 2013

I want to tell you about an exciting venture: an opportunity to help make art more accessible for all, to help a low-income woman start her own business, and to help the family of an Iraq War resister, all at the same time. I hope you’ll read about BrokenArt Mosaics . . . → Read More: wmtc: "just because it’s broken, doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful": ashlea brockway and brokenart mosaics

wmtc: march 19, 2003: don’t call it a failure. it was a huge success for so many.

Eleven years ago today, the US invaded Iraq.

This unprovoked invasion of another country that had not threatened the United States was justified by the pretense of finding weapons of mass destruction (which the US knew did not exist), and as payback for 9/11 (which the US knew Iraq had no part in), and by . . . → Read More: wmtc: march 19, 2003: don’t call it a failure. it was a huge success for so many.

wmtc: let them stay week day 5: social media thursday

Today in Let Them Stay Week 2014 is Social Media Thursday!

– Change your Facebook picture to the picture above to show support for US war resisters in Canada. You can also find the photo on our website, resisters.ca.

– Invite your friends to change their picture, too.

– Tweet your . . . → Read More: wmtc: let them stay week day 5: social media thursday

wmtc: let them stay week day 5: write a paper letter to chris alexander

Today we go old school. Take out a pen, or turn on your printer, and send some paper mail to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander. Tell him to stop deporting US war resisters in Canada, and to enact a provision to let them stay. Tell him why.

Find an envelope, and send . . . → Read More: wmtc: let them stay week day 5: write a paper letter to chris alexander

wmtc: let them stay week day 3: email or call minister chris alexander

Today is a very important day in Let Them Stay Week 2014. Today we flood some inboxes!

If you support US war resisters in Canada, please take a moment to call or email the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Alexander. Ask him to ensure that no more US war resisters are forced out of . . . → Read More: wmtc: let them stay week day 3: email or call minister chris alexander

wmtc: "in the midst of madness, one soldier has refused to participate": let them stay week, revolutionary thought of the day, and other coincidences

Don’t you love it when everything comes together? It’s Let Them Stay Week 2014, I’m thinking about the US war resisters in Canada, and about war resistance in general. And I’m reading a terrific youth novel, Flight, by Sherman Alexie, both fast-paced and rich with insight and meaning. And I come upon this passage. And if . . . → Read More: wmtc: "in the midst of madness, one soldier has refused to participate": let them stay week, revolutionary thought of the day, and other coincidences

wmtc: let them stay week day 2: letter to the editor

Let Them Stay Week 2014 kicked off yesterday with a flutter on social media. Today we get underway in earnest by writing letters to the editors of local newspapers.

Three ideas for letters are here on the War Resisters Support Campaign website.

An excellent list of email address, along with some tips for writing effective . . . → Read More: wmtc: let them stay week day 2: letter to the editor

wmtc: january 12-19: let them stay week 2014: stop the deportations!

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the arrival in Canada of Jeremy Hinzman, the first US Iraq War resister to seek asylum here after refusing to participate in an illegal and immoral war. Yet 10 years on, Jeremy and his family, and many other U.S. war resisters, are still living in limbo – . . . → Read More: wmtc: january 12-19: let them stay week 2014: stop the deportations!