"You should have died when I killed you." - John LeCarre
During the course of a conversation last week, I told a client that everyone has secrets. The idea was to help the client feel less isolated. And, it is true. We have all witnessed or participated in events we do not want to share with others. Events we do not care to whisper to ourselves.
The client, who was overcome with guilt, looked up for the first time and asked, “What are your secrets?”
After a thick silence I deflected the question, but the question stayed in the room, long after the counseling session was over.
Last year Warrior’s Rage was published by Navel Institute Press. I fought along side the author, Col. Douglas Macgregor. When the book was being written, I told Doug I did not want my name in the book, mostly because I did not want to be reminded of my own secrets.
After a flurry of phone calls from other soldiers in our unit, I relented and gave consent.
Doug retells a story from our first day of contact with the Iraqi army. He was concerned with an infantry unit that was opening fire as we approached their position …
So I called Cougar Forward and said: “Shoot that son of a b---- on the ridge before he hurts someone.”
Sergeant Rusty Holloway, the gunner for Cougar Forward, obliged with one round from the 25-mm chain gun, killing the Iraqi soldier, who was firing his AK47, taking his head and upper body off at about 1,100 meters with a 25-mm sabot round. After that, the rest of the Iraqi company surrendered, and the shooting subsided.
This was the first time I had seen a man killed in combat. The experience had an electrifying effect on me and on the troops who watched the event, but not the way most people would expect. The accuracy and lethality of the 25-mm chain gun was both terrifying and reassuring. Now we knew our guns worked.
Killing was easy.
We moved north and ran into other Iraqi units; then we engaged the Tawakana Division; then Andy was killed during a Republican Guard counter attack; and then things got ugly for the Iraqis … secrets.
There is something about wanting to stay alive, and keeping your friends alive, that makes killing easy, indeed. Later, after the fact, ending another's life is not so easy … secrets.
For a few hours, after Andy was killed, I completely turned myself over to evil. It was more than just survival reflex.
Later, after the fighting, I experienced depression for the first time in my life. My illusions about humanity, governments, human answers to problems, crumbled like a house of cards. For the first time I experienced how evil people could be, and that included myself.
There are many victims of trauma who find their way to our counseling center. I do not identify with the victims; I identify with the perpetrators of violence. That is my secret.
When I talk about forgiveness, I talk about it in the context of someone who needs to be forgiven, not just to make it to the next life, but in order to make it through this one.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace. - Ephesians 1:7
... Father, thank You for being a God of second chances. Thank You for looking past our sins. Father, touch the hearts of those who do not yet know the power of Your redemptive love. We cry out to you in Jesus name ...