Take your deepest, most profound belief. Take the moral code you hold most dear. Now smash that down onto cement and watch the shattered pieces skitter across the pavement. Because of your actions, children break and fall to the ground. Grandmothers die. Men bleed and scream. There is no one else to blame, you carry the entire burden, or at least that’s what you think. You did this. YOU. As completely as a human being can believe, you know that you’ve sinned. On the most basic of levels, you know you are no longer good.
Now live with yourself.
This is moral injury — a wound that can be suffered anywhere anytime, but it may well be most prevalent in war. For the past month, I’ve been blessed to interview combat veterans, psychologists and philosophers on the topic of moral injury. I’m on assignment with a magazine to write a feature about it, and one of my sources just pointed me to this video.
The hour-long piece, “Forgiveness and Healing,” is well worth watching. The video profiles a father who forgives his son’s murderer and a group of Vietnam veterans who return to the battlefields of their youth. Their stories take us inside moral wounds, and more importantly, show us how anyone can heal.
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