Dear Mr. President,
I harp on war because it is at the heart of what’s wrong with America. Your Kill Lists, your targeted assassinations, your teams of assassins are a moral failure. You may be the Commander-in-Chief but you have only a textbook understanding of war, of what it means to kill someone, not an image on a computer screen but a flesh-and-blood human being on the battlefield. You exhibit no understanding of the visceral trauma to one’s psyche, how it violates the mind and the soul, and the lasting effects. In her article, “Mad, Bad, Sad,” Nan Levinson calls it “moral injury.” The term’s been around for awhile—Homer’s Odysseus exhibits it—but we mask it with words like PTSD, “battle fatigue” and “shell shock.” Moral injury results from “taking part in or witnessing something of consequence that you find wrong, something which violates your deeply held beliefs about yourself and your role in the world.” No one comes out of war unmarked. The VA estimates 11-20% of the 2.3 million vets who have cycled through Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. It’s one of the hidden costs of war, the war returning home in the warrior who cannot erase the memory of what he or she saw or did. The violence comes home to the home and to the streets, in flashbacks, in the loss of one’s moral compass. We as a nation also suffer from moral injury. For 10 years we invaded and occupied countries, tortured and terrorized in violation of who we believed we were. You continue with covert wars, terrorist drone strikes and unlawful assassinations. The moral injury that results is to all of us, to the national psyche. We have lost our way, no longer a beacon of democracy, no longer a just and moral society, but a nation of barbarians and terrorists. We have lost faith in every branch of government and in who we are collectively. We are no longer a nation ruled by law, justice and fair play, but a nation where only the rich and powerful are heard. We are descending into something from which we may never recover. Do you ever ask yourself what you are doing? What is the right thing to do? Take a break from one of your million dollar fundraisers and read Nan Levinson’s article (http://www.nationofchange.org/mad-bad-sad-1340978154), think about the futility and damage that war does not only to “them,” but to us as well. War is not the answer to anything, Mr. President. War is evil, immoral and unconscionable. Violence begets violence. Stop basking in the delusion of reflected glory.