This week’s ANZAC Day commemorations in Australia, New Zealand and in Gallipoli, Turkey, highlight the best of human conduct – servicemen’s and servicewomen’s courage, mateship, decency and willingness to lay down their lives for country and comrades in battle.
At the same time though, and in a quieter way, ANZAC Days are proving occasions to mention those who suffer trauma as a consequence of being embroiled in the devastation and brutality that go hand-in-hand with war. It is estimated that upwards of 30% of all serving Australian defence force personnel experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
This year, there’s an urgent call by Professor Alexander McFarlane, the head of the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies at the University of Adelaide, to honour the Gallipoli centenary with a national response to provide greater PTSD support.
The thing is, not only Australian Defence Force personnel but also other first responders like ambulance personnel, fire fighters, police officers and hospital staff are confronted with devastating accidents, natural disasters and the basest of human behaviours, leaving them with recurring images of the carnage and devastation. They are often desensitised, detached and, sometimes, even suicidal.
And others of us struggle to ‘get past’ events such as a graphic hospital emergency or a dear one killed in an accident or suicide.
Trauma may shatter one’s basic assumptions about our invulnerability and the safety of the world. This mental state is often compounded by self-blame and guilt.
However, there is good news that some people are finding relief from the predicted long-term effects and traditional drug-based therapy of a PTSD diagnosis.
They have found success by turning away from what has been lost and the difficulties of the struggle, to focus on what there is to be thankful for. They may even be able to acknowledge the positive aspects of stressful situations and their emerging spiritual growth.
Explaining more about this rebirth, prominent researcher and psychotherapist Dr Kenneth Pargament, describes many ways that a dormant spirituality needs to be addressed in PTSD as it contributes to a client’s psychological despair.
Addressing spirituality and fostering forgiveness, consideration, and a growing love for ourselves and for our fellowman are the thinking that truly, peacefully begin to settle inner conflicts.
It is vital to cultivate thoughts devoid of combustible elements such as guilt, anger, revenge and pain. This realisation is integral to healing.
I get the feeling that at least one of Jesus’ disciples underwent such a rebirth. John knew that we don’t need to wait for the hereafter to experience this promise here and now: “God (Love) shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
Mary Baker Eddy, the author whose explanations make the Bible so practical for our health today, writes: “When you read this, remember Jesus’ words, “The kingdom of God is within you.” This spiritual consciousness is therefore a present possibility.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures)
Now there’s increasing evidence to suggest that a spiritual rebirth naturally redirects our thinking away from the constant replay of traumatic events to the contemplation of new ideas and fresh opportunities … you could say, earth becomes heavenly.