New Year New Me!

Purple Heart Member Frank Herbert

December 31, 2019

Many of us have made those New Year resolutions, and we can’t wait to transform ourselves into something new. Marketing goes after our desires with the “New Year, New Me!” slogan, and we are ready to go to work!   Many resolutions, of course, are grounded in good intentions; gym memberships are bought, junk food is tossed, phones are turned off, TV cabinets closed.  Some of us do a pretty good job of keeping at least some of those promises, and we see a change.  After getting on the scale and see the numbers drop, we exclaim, “Look what I did!”

But many of us can’t quite grasp this.  First, you have to know where you are in order to start toward Point B.  Instead of “New Year, New Me!”  Many other slogans take its place.   We hear “Why can’t you be who you were five years ago?”  “Why can’t you change?”.  Inside our own heads, voices say, “Who are you, really?”  “Why can’t I change?”

Warriors take some wounds well.  It’s a matter of doing one’s profession.  But others, in the landscape of The Long War, have a hard time grasping the worthiness of it all.  Maybe survivor’s guilt of living while others did not.  Or it could be a moral injury, when one’s whole perspective on why we are fighting is altered, and a traumatic change, a loss in faith, occurs.  The foundation on which we are on turns to sand instead of the rock we thought it was.

Then what?  What safety net helps us go on?  This can be a dark, lonely place.  We are in a foreign land alone, unable to speak the language, it seems.  We want to help ourselves, and occasionally that works.  But in any case, we never really do it ourselves.  Only one thing truly can help us navigate this new world as we redefine who we are in relation to who we were.

Community.  Each other.  Some of us are in the lifeboat, others in the water.  We must all recognize that we are in both places.  In the lifeboat we are safe and desperately want to rescue others, and we are at the same time in the water, hoping a life preserver ring will be thrown our way.  No matter what, we are in this together, linked arm in arm.  We must help others, and at the same time accept help.

A clergy member once told a story of how a member of the military had said because of all he’d seen and done, he had lost his faith in God.  The priest simply took him by the arm and told him, “That’s O.K., I’ll hold onto your faith for you.”