War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

witness

some readers are surprised I am still writing here. to be honest, so am I. my “official” term was 2008-2009. but somehow, and I believe other war artists might agree, that period of time was really just the beginning of a life’s work.

certainly, there is work in me that has nothing to do with war. or is that realistic? war’s spidery threads surely may be found in the corner of all of our lives. maybe a grandfather, or a cousin. a father. a sister. a great uncle who flew a Lanc over Germany. maybe one becomes a Canadian fleeing war…

and one of the principles that has guided me, no, my raison d‘être has been to bear witness to the war in our midst. 8, no, 9 years in. 1 1/2 times the length of our WWII engagement, and only now are we feeling the brush of those silky webs against the skin of our communities as we see young men and women in uniform on November 11th. vets are no longer old men in blue blazers and charcoal grey pants.

I’ve been thinking a lot about witness lately. the power of release.

lately, I’ve experienced dismissal. the shutting down of my experience. erasure. denial. I am coming to realize that some are afraid of witnessing others. for whatever reason. (guilt, fear or control, a manifestation of fear).

I had coffee yesterday with a vet who helps other vets coping with PTSD. he is a very, very busy man. stretched thin as cobwebs. and I say to him, “you have enough TI, maybe it’s time to learn to golf”. but the deal is this, (my amateur guess at stats), of the pers. I met in the mil., I’d say most serve because they want to make the world better place.

that’s why the 2 young infantrymen just a few weeks home from A’stan (they were my roomies outside the wire!) stopped their jeep on the bridge in Edmonton last June, jumped out, helped the young mother and her child stalled in the middle of the traffic. would not leave her until she was taken care of and then arrived to meet me 1 1/2 hrs. later than expected. they would have carried her car if they needed to. they would have done anything. anything and I mean anything to make her safe.

because that’s what they do.

and I asked P, “why do I still receive contact from soldiers, their family members every single day? what’s this about?”

and P said, “because you cared”.

I wonder more importantly if indeed it’s because I have never judged them. never.

over 65,000 hits on this site. some very faithful readers. I have had thousands of contacts via email, telephone, even mail. I have been entrusted with some very, very personal words. words I promise to protect.

and I won’t lie. this isn’t easy. and I still get criticized. or diminished. some still try to shut me, my words down. interestingly, never the mil. not once have they told me what to write, what NOT to write. NOT ONCE.

and yet still, there are some who deny me. who will not, cannot witness. my experience. will not. cannot witness. my pain.


1 Comment (Closed)

P

Caring and not judging. Not too much to ask from the Canadian people who we serve and represent in places like Afghanistan, but it’s very hard to find and even harder for those who do care and to show it.

You care, you don’t judge and you show it in many ways, which is why you will be getting those emails and phone calls for a very long time to come and will never run out of things to write.

Please do look after yourself. You soak up a little bit of those phone calls and stories each time even if you don’t think you do. A little becomes a lot quite quickly.

We all want to make the world a better place. Judging by the number of people who call you to tell you their story, and who probably feel better after having done so, you already have.

Oct 09 2010 · 16:42

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled witness. It was posted here on October 09, 2010.

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