That’s My Story

In recent months, I’ve learned the backstories of some of my new friends, stories that are both horrifying and heartbreaking. That these people are leading normal lives, or what seem to be normal lives, make their stories all the more shocking. And they make me realize, that despite everything I have gone through, I have lived a rather privileged life. At least so far as I know. (One of the stories I was told rivals my book More Deaths Than One for mind control, manipulation, and abuse, which would make anyone question themselves and what they think they know. But I tend to think I do know what I think I know.)

I never felt as if my life was especially blessed — there was too much trauma and poverty, depression and some sort of instability in almost all the characters of my youth. And yet, I grew up, enjoyed mostly good health (meaning that I wasn’t often tormented by terrible pain, trauma, or illness). I loved and was loved in return. I’m settling into what might be a rather benign old age, and even with my extremely limited income, I doubt I will go hungry. Although I’ve never been strong physically, I’ve been strong enough to do what I needed to do. And I’ve been strong enough mentally to get through what I needed to get through.

Those are my realities right now. My privileges. Not everyone has those same privileges. Some people have different blessings — wealth, beauty, acclaim, athletic ability, robust health, great happiness, a fulfilling career, a living — and loving — spouse, cherished offspring.

And some people seem to have very little going for them, often through no fault of their own. Abuse. Disfiguration. Disability. Unending pain. Troubles that seem to multiply. Acute loneliness.

Nothing I can do will ever make a difference to those lives. I can be kind to people I meet, of course, because who knows what pain and horror they are hiding behind smiles or stoic expressions or even scowls. But that’s about all. Being miserable won’t offset their misery. Bleeding for them won’t erase a single moment of suffering. Making allowances for life’s injustices or trying to shoulder another’s mental or physical burdens only goes so far — we each have to live the life we are given.

There’s no way ever to truly understand another person’s point of view, and people who expect that are being unrealistic. We can always only see life through our own eyes, and that’s not a privilege but a reality.

Actually, now that I think of it, my greatest blessing is to be able to turn, in retrospect, a rather messy and traumatic life into one of privilege and good fortune. A nice bit of legerdemain, that.

But that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Desensitizing People to Violence

Clint Eastwood posted a status update on his FB profile today. No, I’m not a “friend” or a fan, don’t “like” him or “subscribe” to him, but his comment is making the rounds of FB, and it ended up on in my news feed. Several times. I found the comment interesting because of my research for More Deaths Than One, a book about mind control, and what I learned about how the military desensitized recruits to killing.

Eastwood wrote: With a lot of thought on this in light of all the shootings in the past few weeks I am very concerned that the left is now going to hit hard on pushing the 2nd Amendment over the cliff.

This is the only amendment that the ‘O’ can attack with any chance of repealing. If this, and God help us if he does, will lead to a barrage of attacks on all the amendments and socialism will be a forgone conclusion.

If anything should be shut down it should be the violent video games. Really, and I know everyone likes their electronics but these are the things that are taking kids and young people out of interacting with society and their peers.

I know I will probably take a lot of flack for that last observation but I’ve taken the flack before.

Have a great Sunday and hug your family.

I’ve written about this before, most recently in If Everyone Wants Peace, Why are there Wars? As I said, many of today’s — and yesterday’s — video games were developed by the military because studies had shown that repeated images of violence and death inured people to killing. During World War Two, as many as 85% of soldiers fired over enemies’ heads or did not fire at all. After World War Two, there was a concerted effort by the military to overcome this natural reluctance to kill, and apparently they succeeded because during close combat in Vietnam, only about 5% of soldiers failed to aim to kill. These same desensitizing “games” were later released as toys for children. Is it any wonder that many people — teens and adults — now seem desensitized to violence? They are playing games that were purposely created to foster killing.

I am not a fan of guns, though I have attended a couple of shooting clinics sponsored by a local gun club. As an author, I thought it important to know how it felt to shoot a weapon at a target. The targets we used were the round kind rather than a silhouette of a human. (Not so incidentally, those human-like targets were also created by the military to get soldiers used to firing at people.) I enjoyed learning how to shoot, but handling the pistols, revolvers, shotguns and rifles did not create in me any desire to shoot at another human being. Guns by themselves do not encourage violence or a desire to kill. Certain video games do. Sociopathic tendencies do. Psychotic characteristics do. Military think tanks do.

Author Lee Child says that we don’t write what we know, we write what we fear, and that certainly is true in my case. I fear the machinations of the powerful, deadly, and calculating men and women who control our lives behind the scenes. And I fear politicians and celebrities who use tragedies to further their own ends.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+