The Dark Side of Humanity

Sarah McCoy wrote a post for the Huffington Book Blog about “Men of War are Conflicted Characters“. After I read her post, I wanted to leave a comment but couldn’t because that section was closed, so I’m writing it here.

You may want to read McCoy’s post. It’s well written and deals with an author’s dilemma when she has to crawl inside the skin of someone most of the world considers a monster, because he fought for Hitler during World War II and was tagged with the term Nazi.

However, it was McCoy’s conclusion that I wanted to leave a comment for. She said, “I’ll be honest, it was an onerous task to write under the psychological hood of war. I struggled but knew it was essential to the story and my attempt to unearth a truth. War asks us to give up our humanity, but if we do, aren’t we losing what we’re fighting for in the first place?”

I say no. War does not ask us to give up our humanity. It asks us to reveal the horror of our humanity—to let the dark side we spend a lifetime struggling to suppress out of its bloody bag. Inside our skin lives both demons and angels. When an individual fails to keep the lid on his or her demons, we end up with people like Luis Garavito of Colombia who may have murdered more than 400 people. He was a serial killer known as The Beast.

These killers, who cannot control the dogs of war, live all over the world. Instead of listing them, you may want to visit this page on Wiki and see for yourself what happens when the lid comes off on its own and stays off.

In war, troops are trained to open that door and let the beast out.  Then they are expected to stuff it back in the box when we come home.

We can’t pretend it isn’t there, because just like night and day, sunrise and sunset, each person has a bright and dark side and it is the dark that we struggle to keep under control.

Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961), the founder of analytical psychology, called it the shadow: The shadow is an unconscious complex that is defined as the repressed and suppressed aspects of the conscious self.

There are constructive and destructive types of shadow.

On the destructive side, it often represents everything that the conscious person does not wish to acknowledge within themselves. For instance, someone who identifies as being kind has a shadow that is harsh or unkind. Conversely, an individual who is brutal has a kind shadow. The shadow of persons who are convinced that they are ugly appears to be beautiful. Source: Psychologist Anywhere Anytime.com

Some men that wear uniforms might go to war conflicted, but I think to most trained warriors, it’s just a job. Ethan Card, the main character in my novel, Running with the Enemy, is an example of what I’m talking about. To succeed and survive, he must trust the beast from the dark side of humanity to help him get the job done.

It is the only way to win a war. If you disagree, show me a war that was won by fighting with a set of rules based on modern, humanitarian principals that did not exist a few decades ago.

What do you think was going through the mind of the pilot of the Enola Gay as he dropped “Little Boy” on the city of Hiroshima and killed 80,000 people in one nuclear flash? Next was Nagasaki with another 40,000 killed instantly. Some children had been evacuated out of the city, for fear of bombing, but many remained. “1,653 primary school children and 74 of their teachers died in Nagasaki.” Source: Ban the Bomb.org

Discover Children as Weapons of Death

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Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “FOLLOW”.

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What happened to the America that …

On January 3, 2013, Mark Hosenball writing for Reuters reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee’s chairwoman expressed outrage over scenes in the film “Zero Dark Thirty” that imply “enhanced interrogations” of CIA detainees.

Hosenball wrote, “Some of Obama’s liberal supporters are attacking the film and officials who cooperated with its creators for allegedly promoting the effectiveness of torture.”

As I read this piece , I started to think of the brutality of war and what it means to lose and then had a few questions:

During the Vietnam War, what happened to the America that dropped 250,000 cluster bombs on Cambodia?

What happened to the America that firebombed civilians in Germany & Japan in World War II?

PBS reported that in Germany, “The casualty figures reported by German fire and police services ranged between 25,000 and 35,000 dead. However, thousands more were missing, and there were many unidentified refugees in the city. It is probable that the death total approached the 45,000 killed in the bombing of Hamburg in July-August 1943. Some careless historians, encouraged by Soviet and East German propaganda, promulgated figures as high as 250,000. Although David Irving later recanted his claim of 135,000 dead, one can still find that number cited in many history books.”

In Japan, PBS said that in Tokyo, “Before the firestorm ignited by Operation MEETINGHOUSE had burned itself out, between 90,000 and 100,000 people had been killed. Another million were rendered homeless. Sixteen square miles were incinerated, and the glow of the flames was visible 150 miles away. Victims died horribly as intense fires consumed the oxygen, boiled water in canals, and sent liquid glass rolling down streets.”

What happened to the America that dropped A-bombs on two cities in Japan to end World War II?

“Unlike many other bombing raids, the goal for this raid had not been a military installation but rather an entire city. The atomic bomb that exploded over Hiroshima killed civilian women and children in addition to soldiers. Hiroshima’s population has been estimated at 350,000; approximately 70,000 died immediately from the explosion and another 70,000 died from radiation within five years.”

“Approximately 40 percent of Nagasaki was destroyed. Luckily for many civilians living in Nagasaki, though this atomic bomb was considered much stronger than the one exploded over Hiroshima, the terrain of Nagasaki prevented the bomb from doing as much damage. Yet the decimation was still great. With a population of 270,000, approximately 70,000 people died by the end of the year.” Source: About.com

What happened to the America that sprayed Vietnam with Agent Orange?

What happened to the America that dropped more bombs on northeastern Laos during the Vietnam War than it dropped in all of World War II?

“As part of its efforts during the Vietnam War, the United States began a nine-year bombing campaign in Laos in 1964 that ultimately dropped 260 million cluster bombs on the country — the most heavily bombed country in history. That’s more than 2.5 million tons of munitions — more than what the U.S. dropped in World War II on Germany and Japan combined. … Of the 75 million bombs that failed to detonate, less than 1 percent have been cleared. At least 25,000 people have been killed or injured by these bombs in the 35 years following the end of the bombing campaign. Today, an average of 300 Lao people are injured or killed every year by these weapons.” Source: Huffington Post

What happens to the citizens of the United States if America loses the war on terror?

Discover A Night at the “Well of Purity”

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

Rebuilding Lives

I bought an audio version of The Street of a Thousand Blossoms to listen to while driving (I am an avid reader and listener of books).

Gail Tsukiyama’s novel starts before World War II and concludes years after the war ends. The story is about the violent rebirth of a nation and its people through war and defeat told mostly through the eyes and emotions of two brothers.

Because I served in Vietnam in the US Marines as a field radio operator, my focus has been on what combat does to soldiers—not noncombatants. However, after reading Tsukiyama’s novel, it is easy to see that civilians that experience the horror of war may also suffer from the trauma of PTSD.

To get an idea of the destruction and suffering, more people may have been killed or injured in the firebombing of Tokyo than from the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki near the end of the war.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department reported that almost a 100,000 were killed in addition to a million injured with 286,358 buildings and homes destroyed. There were a million left homeless.

In comparison, it is estimated that 150,000 – 246,000 were killed from the atomic bombs, and if Japan hadn’t surrendered when it did, the US would have had seven more atomic bombs ready to drop on Japan’s cities before October 1945.

What led to the war in the Pacific?

Some of Japan’s leaders wanted to rule over East Asia, including China, and that quest for power cost Japan dearly and the nations it invaded.

However, in defeat, between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Japanese civilians were killed in addition to 2.12 million military. In comparison, in all of World War II, the US lost 1,700 civilians and 416,800 military. At Pearl Harbor, the US lost 2,402 military and 57 civilians.

What is not well known is that the decision to attack the United States was not unanimous in Japan’s government or military.

“Military control in prewar Japan was exercised by the War and Navy Ministers and the General Staffs of the Army and Navy, not by the civil government.” Source: ibiblio.org

In fact, “Higher Navy officials in Japan were against bombing Pearl Harbor, but the fleet commander, Yamamoto, threatened to resign unless given permission to launch the strike and the Navy staff reluctantly permitted it.” Source: Thornley.net

“To the conservative admirals of Japan’s Naval General Staff, a direct confrontation in the central Pacific Ocean between their navy and the Unites States Navy was unthinkable.” Source: Pacific War.org

In addition, Emperor “Hirohito said he was powerless to stop the militarists because any dissent on his part would have led to his assassination.” Source: Net Places.com

Then Japan’s Prime Minister Prince Fumimaro Konoe attempted to avoid war with the United States, and when he failed, he resigned from office on October 16, 1941 – six weeks before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.”  Source: Wikipedia.org

Hiroshi and Kenji are the main characters in The Street of a Thousand Blossoms, and what they experience during the war is often worse than that of soldiers in combat. The sense of helplessness is acute because the characters in the novel cannot fight back as bombs are dropped on them or as Japanese police force them to comply with harsh wartime regulations.

Hiroshi dreams of becoming a sumotori (a Japanese form of wrestling) while his younger brother, Kenji, is obsessed with the craft of carving wood masks worn by the actors of Noh Theater, a classical Japanese theatrical form—one of the world’s oldest.

Before the war, the brothers’ parents drowned in a boating accident, and they are raised by their grandparents in the Yanaka district of northeastern Tokyo.

The war interferes with the boys’ dreams and rationing leads to hunger and the struggle to survive.

Because we are either with Hiroshi or Kenji during the horrific fire-bombing of Tokyo, and they also experience the iron fist of the city’s police to control the people while Japan is losing the war, we discover what it must be like to live in a nation that is being defeated.

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ends the war, but the emotional wounds are slow to heal. However, Hiroshi and Kenji renew their passions and through them we see the healing of a defeated nation. It is a bitter sweet story that I highly recommend—a story of resilience and rebirth.

 

Gail Tsukiyama was born in San Francisco, California to a Chinese mother from Hong Kong and a Japanese father from Hawaii. She attended San Francisco State University where she received both her Bachelor of Arts Degree and a Master of Arts Degree in English with the emphasis in Creative Writing.

Discover Stanford Study shows effect of PTSD trauma on brain

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”