Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bergdahl, Free but not Released

Bowe Bergdahl
 Alain Jocaird/AFP photo
Bergdahl looked so fragile, so confused and lost. He looked hollow, fractured.   I understand there are lots of questions and concerns, but I don't understand how any American can have anything but compassion for a soldier who lived under such incredible duress for 5 years of his life.  President Obama did the right thing, the morally right thing, to free this American. "No American left behind."

We will learn more, beyond the loathsome hysteria of partisan politics and the media moment,  but it's hard to imagine being the victim of a terrorist Taliban group in Afghanistan for so long, deprived of freedom, free will, any control over your own life, at the whim and mercy of your captors. For five years.

All human beings suffer from high stress that lasts a long time. I can't imagine living through the level of stress Bergdahl endured, so intense and unpredictable, and surviving with a sense of self intact.  Any of us, I think, might lose ourselves.

We would be focused solely on survival, solely on making it through another day, day after day, year after year after year  Can any of us know how we would respond under such circumstances?

I've thought about it. Like I've thought about what I might have done had I been a slave. I think I would try to please my captors, my owners, so as not to be hurt. I don't think I would be a rebel. I don't think I would resist. I would give up my innate responses, and become submissive, fueled by fear and confusion, perhaps silenced by lashes of the whip or being locked in a small dark space for days on end, as Bergdahl may have been.  It's embarrassing admitting to such weakness, let alone having actually to live through such terror.

Psychological deprivation, along with inevitable physical decline, would be the ultimate torture, a wounded spirit, and it would take the ultimate toll, one's sense of self.

Who would we be at the end of such captivity? How would we recover an identity? Where would our soul reside? How would we deal with a sudden burst of freedom from such enslavement? What shame and guilt would we carry for the rest of our lives, no matter the circumstances of our captivity?  Free, but not released.

The outrageous rants of Republicans, media "pundits," and other politicians and polemicists are galling. Why? Why not give it time to play out, to get the facts, to strive for some perspective? Why the beating up on every move Obama makes? Why the rush to judgement?  

Bergdahl and his family were victims of the Taliban and now they are victims of our disgraceful partisan politics. Victimized again.

Bergdahl needs time and compassion.  I pray to the goddess of healing grace and forgiveness that Bergdahl in time recovers his sense of self and returns to some sense of wholeness.

I'm not sure what it will take, on the other hand, to save America's poisoned political system and toxic partisanship.

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