Day 3 of Surrender Sadhana :
Today marks the anniversary of the last combat troops to leave Vietnam in 1973. It did not mean the end of the conflict, it went on until 1974, but it did mark a historic withdrawal. An exhalation in one sense of this country coming back in to some part to itself.
For those who fought in the war, the war lived and lives on. It lives on in the soldier but less commonly talked about, in the family and those that cared for them. And it lives on in the psyche of this nation.
We had surrendered in one sense by not deploying men over. Yet our hearts remained troubled.
At the height of the conflict in 1969, protests rumbled and burst in the streets back home. I remember as a child, my father coming home, and then in hushed silence, his quick change from uniform to civvies (street clothes). The military were mandated to not wear their uniforms in public so as not to be attacked by civilians. Because many were.
And then over the years, trauma bubbled to the surface. Post traumatic stress disorder it was called.
We see it again during the conflict of Iraq. And again, on the sideline I watched this, through my first job out of college with the Navy and then later volunteering for Walter Reed Army Hospital at the height of the conflict. Men and women over stretched, over burdened, and then home to over medication and under supported…through no fault of the providers who cared for them, but more lack of knowledge to deal with a new breed of war. A breed of war that used technologies untested and first time tried, and medications that seemed to be a good idea but in excess caused more trouble.
I ask myself repeatedly, what is this? A general told me once that the difference in the wars and the rise of stress disorders had to do with values. When we fought World War 2, we knew why we were fighting. We were invaded, and we fought back. A boundary issue so to speak in new age parlance.
During Vietnam, we did not have any clear sense of values. Many rose up because part of their felt duty as an American was to be of service. Part of that service was to answer the call of the Nation’s leader, a tradition held by the National Reserves, every day people like you and me. This same tradition is the very same that formed the background of the American Revolution.
Yet there was another revolution occurring back home. Another set of values breeding and growing.
A shift from the visible and material sensibility to the invisible: human rights, gender equality, race equality. A rise en masse of people protesting a patriarchal way of life that for them threatened their perceived sense of being. More troubling it was for them to use our national resources to fight a war that was started by a materially powerful few.
Yet here we are. In many ways, with some of the same conflicts. Yet with even more material goods, more food, more technology, more insights, more energy, more healing.
In reality, there is another massive revolution a foot, bigger than even the 60’s, 90’s and the early 2000’s.
There is starting to be a groundswell of people recognizing that we are all connected. The connectedness of the earth, the tree roots to each other, all living systems are connected. And that what we individually do effects the collective whole.
When we can pay attention to what is common in all of us, the common values we all share, a way to heal this earth and the conflicts within us becomes manifested.
But to do so we must surrender. Lay down our arms of self hatred, and low self worth. For those values become reflected in front of us, in our relationships, in our health, and ultimately in our world.
Surrender now. Withdraw your troops from the conflict of being something that is not you vs what the moment has to offer. Lay down your arms of trouble and receive the benefits of those that have appeared to you: The bus driver opening the door and smiling at you, even though his heart is breaking, The person in front of you at the store who chats with you about nothing in particular, or even the person who cuts you off in traffic, for they may have their own heartbreak governing them. Let them be, let yourself be. Just for today and see what the world offers you
May you be well. May you be happy. May all beings be well. May all beings be happy. May we all realize we are one world, one breath.