Updated: Sep 12, 2019
Weapons are tools of ill omen
Wielded by the ignorant.
If their use is unavoidable,
The wise act with restraint.
The greatest sorrow is to be a veteran,
Witness to the atrocities of humanity.
I read a passage that was profound – it spoke of humanity and dealing with tragedy – and made me think of our first responders and military personnel.
If you hold a real weapon in your hand, you will feel its character strongly. It can easily be used. Its power is fearsome. Its purpose is pain or death, and its power is not just in the material from which it is made but also from the intention of its makers.
It is regrettable that weapons must sometimes be used, but occasionally, survival demands it. The wise go forth with weapons only as a last resort. They never rejoice in the skill of weapons, nor do they glorify violence.
When pain, death, and destruction are visited upon what you hold to be most sacred, the spiritual price is devastating. What hurts more than one's own suffering is bearing witness to the suffering of others. The regret of seeing human beings at their worst and the sheer pain of not being able to help the victims can never be redeemed. If you go to war, you may cross the line yourself. You sacrifice ideals for survival and the fury of violence for the sake of survival. That alters you forever. That is why no one rushes to be a veteran. Think before you want to change so unalterably. The stakes are not merely one's life, but one's very humanity.
First responders and members of the military share those same things in common…they run into fire; towards the sound of gunfire, and witness on a daily basis the damage people do to one another. They must witness the intense suffering of others and in some cases be forced to use weapons for survival. These people don’t want to harm another person, they all only seek to protect and save what we all hold most dear – innocence and life. First responders and combat veterans end their shifts, their tours and their careers having been exposed to the worst of humanity, the most violent and tragic situations imaginable. Their employment requires them to engage in such situations and that engagement forever changes who you are. There are no weapons, no body armor, no medications available to protect the damage caused by these situations.
A career as a first responder changes one as unalterably as a tour in combat does for one in the military. The very humanity of these people is at stake. There has been no education, little training or preparation to emotionally prepare these heroes to manage the psychological ramifications of a career as a first responder. In order to survive, a sense of humanity must be restored within the first responder and the emotions must be dealt with to develop the required resiliency.
I have been there.
I know that I can help.