Coming home or coming apart: Are we losing the battle for peace on the home front?

It’s Memorial Day in the US and people all over the country will be honoring our veterans. It’s also the start of a new PBS series; tonight is the premiere of TED Talks: War and Peace. One of the people featured in the series is Sebastian Junger, whose new book Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging was released last week, and who has a distinctive take on veterans’ issues and PTSD that I want to explore for what it says to those of us working as change agents.

“[M]aybe what determines the rate of long-term PTSD isn’t what happened out there, but the kind of society you come back to….In other words, maybe the problem isn’t them, the vets, maybe the problem is us.”

Out there, the mission is clear. Out there, cooperation is vital. Out there, structures are designed to support everyone. Out there, what you are doing is meaningful. Out there, you can make a difference.

Out there, there is a heightened sense of justice, a heightened sense of responsibility and a heightened sense of urgency.

And then you come “home.” The way forward is muddled. There is gridlock in government. There are political candidates promulgating hate. There is senseless violence. And at the same time, injustice, sidestepping of responsibility and apathy seem to be the order of the day.

“We’ve gotten used to it. Veterans have gone away and are coming back and seeing their own country with fresh eyes and they see what’s going on. This is the country they fought for. No wonder they’re depressed. No wonder they’re scared.

Sometimes, we ask ourselves if we can save the vets. I think the real question is if we can save ourselves.”

The times are scary. And depressing. Especially when what we are talking about is finding the will to save ourselves. I remain hopeful nonetheless. I see solutions evolving as we grapple with issues about who we are and what is important to us. I see energy being invested in learning how we can create a society, a culture, workplaces and home-spaces based around belonging and connection, rather than alienation and fear. I want to believe in a country rooted in respect for the individual and for the struggles of returning vets and all others facing exclusion, shame or isolation. Let’s use our talents to build a more inclusive community that can take those struggles, and through honest evaluation of our ills, make the case for greater justice and greater responsibility with all the urgency such concerns are due.

All quotations taken from: https://www.ted.com/talks/sebastian_junger_our_lonely_society_makes_it_hard_to_come_home_from_war/transcript?language=en


Along with my sister, Elizabeth Hirsh, I will be working on be developing a new platform from which to distribute our material on viewing life changing events through the lens of psychological type (material formerly available through CPP, Inc. as Introduction to Type® and Reintegration). We are endeavoring to make the material more helpful, accessible and user friendly, in order to better reach anyone, including members of the US Armed Services, who could benefit from a framework for managing the transition “home to oneself” following a life changing event.

To learn more about our approach, please get in touch: info@hirshworks.com

 

Creative Commons License
The Diversity Dividend by Katherine W Hirsh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Coming home or coming apart: Are we losing the battle for peace on the home front?

Identity is dynamic – what matters is what matters to us

Who am I? At first blush identity seems straightforward. There is some set of characteristics, both inherent and learned, both chosen and given, which defines my identity. Identity seems to come from within. To understand identity, however, we also need to look out, to the environment.

When I lived in Alabama, I was a Northerner. Now that I live in Germany, I am an English speaker. Previous to living in these two contexts, these aspects of my identity were not particularly salient because it was normative to be a Northerner or an English speaker. Moving to these new environments prompted me to reconsider my identity.

Mariann Märtsin has put forward the notion that when we undergo a life transition such as moving to a new place, we are driven to make sense of it and this includes adapting our sense of self to incorporate our new relationship to those around us. To understand identity, then, we need to appreciate that although it feels constant – I am me, I was me and I will continue to be me – identity is something we are creating and recreating all the time. Aspects of ourselves may always have been with us, like my Northern-ness, and yet it can sometimes take something outside of us to trigger our awareness of them.

That identity is constructed and that such efforts at construction take place as the result of life events, should influence how we do our diversity and inclusion work. For example, in my case, this has involved an awakening to my privilege in the US as a Northerner and in the world as a native speaker of English. As such my advocacy can seem suspect, inauthentic, patronizing or self-serving. My presence alone can stimulate feelings of being one down. I need to be conscious of how who I am can stand in the way of my being a catalyst for people forming more empowering personal narratives and claiming the full richness of their identities. This mindfulness around identity being constructed and relational is the diversity dividend.

 

Creative Commons License
The Diversity Dividend by Katherine W Hirsh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Identity is dynamic – what matters is what matters to us