Full disclosure: I'm a Trekkie, or to be more politically correct, a Trekker. I have loved Star Trek in its various iterations since I was a child. By the way, if you have not yet seen Star Trek: Into Darkness, beam yourself over to the nearest movie theater for another stellar performance by Zachary Quinto (Mr. Spock) as the crew battles its most treacherous villain, portrayed by the uber-talented Benedict Cumberbatch. The film explores how a peaceful society obsessed with fear becomes violent and violates the very values it is supposedly trying to protect. Whether or not Star Trek is your speed, check out the video interview below with Sir Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation). While the amateur videographer must have used inferior dilithium crystals (apologies for the geeky Star Trek reference), the content is moving and important. Patrick Stewart reveals how his father abused him and his mother starting when Patrick was only 5 years old. This spurred him to become involved as an adult in safe houses and domestic violence prevention. He says, "I do what I do in my mother's name because I couldn't help her then. Now I can."
Patrick Stewart recently learned that his father suffered from severe shell shock (now known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) as a result of serving with British forces in World War II. (For an excellent portrayal of the effects of battle on a person's psyche, see Patrick Stewart in "Family", which is the next episode after what is arguably the greatest Star Trek story, "Best of Both Worlds", in which Captain Picard is abducted and assimilated by The Borg.)
Today's veterans returning from years of trauma from our ongoing wars, need thorough, proactive support, including alternative modalities like EMDR, EFT, and hypnotherapy, in addition to traditional talk therapy. While our government's response to this mental health crisis is improving, it has been woefully inadequate, even disgraceful, as veteran suicides have skyrocketed. How do we honor and support those who do violence in our name by giving them the support they need to heal and return to non-violent civility? Ancient cultures had rituals for soldiers returning from war in which the entire community would join together with the soldiers to purge themselves of the blood that was on all their hands. At most we hold a parade and then move on with our comfortable lives as if nothing ever happened.
Domestic violence, one war after another, mass shootings, those returning from our wars suffering from PTSD who are told to "get it together" or "soldier on"...these are all symptoms of a culture that has not learned to deal with its anger...or its fear. How do we transmute our anger and fear into creation rather than destruction? How do we mature so that we direct and integrate our emotions rather than explode or implode? This is the next step in our evolution as a culture and as a species.
We have been at war/in conflict for 216 of our 237 years as a nation. Are we truly as peace-loving as we claim we are? By facing the unpleasant reality of our violent propensities as a people, we bring this toxic secret into the light so that its power over us dissolves. By embracing our personal emotional traumas with courage, compassion and vulnerability, we boldly enter the final frontier, which is not space but the shadow of our human psyche.
The link to the video: Patrick Stewart interview
P.S. There is still space for those who wish to join us for Mindful Photography: The Art of Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes, which starts next Monday night.