The New Civil War

BY PAUL BABB @ THE CYPRESS COUNSELING GROUP

When I was growing up, I had the unique opportunity to spend my summer vacation time on the shores of the Rappahannock River in Virginia. My grandparents owned a house right on the water and my mother would take me, my older sister and brother there for several weeks in the summertime while my dad worked as a branch manager at a local bank in Williamsburg.

One of the highlights of those river (pronounced Rivah if you’re from the area) vacations was that two sets of aunts and uncles and their respective three children would come and stay for most of the time as well. We learned a lot about family, relationship, and community as we were expected to work hard maintaining the river house property before we could enjoy the gorgeous scenery in front of us. 

When we did have the opportunity to relax, we played and we played hard. One of our neighbors had a tennis court which became the scene of many classic battles of boys against girls, brother versus brother, sister versus sister and cousin versus cousin and all variables in-between. Two of my female 1st cousins were star players on their high school tennis team so they ran you off the court when they played singles.

It was only natural to think about the competitive carnage they would inflict whenever they combined their might, strength, and talent to play as a team in a doubles format. Unfortunately for them, a strategy was quickly identified, developed, and implemented to perfection by any team of cousins that would dare face the Fearsome Twosome. All you had to do was to turn one sister against the other by casting doubt, fear, and distrust about the strength of their relationship to one another and as a team. As soon as they took the emotional bait, it was clear sailing for the underdog tennis amateurs to seize the day. 

I find this story very intriguing as we find ourselves in the present day arguing left versus right, good versus bad, and right versus wrong.

Family members and friends are pitted against one another in a deceptively seductive battle of who holds the moral high ground and the master key to the gates of Utopia. Thanks to technology and our evolving American society the battlefield now extends across both a real and virtual expanse of territory. The attacks, assaults, raids, and campaigns are no longer tracked by the tally of the wounded and deceased, but rather by the damage done to the human psyche and the number of rotting souls consumed by hate and rage.

This is a violent and sadistic torture of immeasurable proportion as the wounds of this battle imperil its victim to call upon the keys of survivorship – anger, fear, isolation, hurt, sadness, guilt, shame, and manufactured contentment. 

When we use our emotions and feelings as weapons we only invite our intended target to respond in the same which ends in a losing result…the loss of relationship and ultimately the loss of our only hope for healing and connection.

How powerful it can be when we hold the hurt and pain of our personal stories and reach across the aisle with charity and understanding. Nothing in this world happens in a vacuum – there is always a context and there is always a connection.

It is our own and personal responsibility to learn more about ourselves and one another. Our emotions and feelings simply don’t appear out of thin air as there is always a story just below the spiritual surface.

Did you grow up in a home where trust prevailed or was there chaos around every corner?

What did you learn about the world through the eyes AND ears of your parents?

What significant events and/or trauma may have befallen you growing up?

Our physical, emotional, and spiritual bodies do not forget the answers to these questions. It is our calling to reassess these voices from our past so we can experience personal freedom in the present. 

Be aware of the civil war that is upon us each and every day. Each one of us is being called to stand up and to rise up together in order to realize our greatness together. We can only do this when we unlock the doors of emotional understanding and reach out and connect to our fellow man with goodwill, generosity, and kindness. In order to lead this great and noble charge to the other side, we need to honor the relics of our past while we cultivate a refined civility which can only be won through the acceptance of ourselves as being broken, healed, and most importantly, human.

Paul Babb, EdS, LPC-MHSP