Good, Trauma and our Children’s future

Every act of violence has roots that tap into and are fed by history. The gardener recognizes the pattern. The wild weeds of violence are not discouraged easily by the scythe. The root remains, survives the winter, and sends up ten more stalks in the spring. The violence of slavery, the civil war, the world wars, the regional and global wars, take root and express themselves in our present day lives. Trauma to personal agency will seep into our soul’s stories and continue a journey into the future resonating in our children, grandchildren and on down the line. A person who studies and witnesses history with diligence probably could with effort find the path back to the source of every violent act to be published in tomorrow’s papers.

I was asked to speak to a hospital group of medical practitIoners on ‘inclusive community’ and I settled on two words to make a point regarding working with the generations. The term I used was ‘immigration grief’. I wanted to express the nature of a melancholy and sadness that followed my grandparents and parents that seemed very clearly related to the losses of immigration. I ended up having to make copies of that talk in response to requests from the audience. The idea that sadness and fear can travel through generations was only beginning to become popular at that time and for many of the people in the audience immigration grief was a new thought with resonance. Generational trauma is a broader term for the impact of cross generational loss. I think if we are honest we can see in our children the effects of stories our lives inherited. Sadly sometimes we unknowingly passed the pain on. From immigration grief to generational trauma I have developed an understanding that pain rolls down across time and generation. I newly recognize every day the radical courage of my parents in protecting our family from some of the inevitable injuries of the immigration experience as well as the trauma of World War II. The tenacious weeds in one’s garden of memories need to be treated at the root level. The violence of the scythe only delivers immediate feedback and a illusion of progress both in gardening and self care.

That our mistakes can become time travelers is something everyone needs to consider. The current violence in schools, homes, the halls of legislature and congress will not conclude with us. My sense of things suggests I choose nonviolence because violent acts can’t help but escape our grasp of good and haunt the future lives of our children and grandchildren. The clash of personal agency does not respect the distinction of who was right and who was wrong. The children of the angels can suffer equally with the dark side from the consequences of yesterday’s violence.

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