Positivity and wisdom can come from even the worst of experiences.
PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS
It seems that the anniversary of 9/11/01 has been getting less attention this year, its 21st. Perhaps that is because it is just over a year since the retaliatory war on Afghanistan—our longest war in history—came to an end, but an end that has received mixed responses at best. The psychiatric toll, especially posttraumatic stress disorder, is liable to be high for Afghanistan refugees, and worse for many collaborators still there. For our soldiers and others who served there, moral injury is a likely aftermath.
After 9/11/01, various versions of a Patriot Day were designated by our Presidents. We are already in the midst of what President Trump proclaimed as National Days of Prayer and Remembrance, 9/8-10, leading up to Patriot Day. Serendipitously, perhaps, it is also National Grandparents Day.
One unique aspect of being elderly and a grandparent is the extent of experiences and the possibility of wisdom from these experiences. For those near my age of 76, we have been exposed to 3 wars that have ended unsuccessfully for the United States: Korea, Vietnam, and the “War on Terror,” though there is the relief of no further attacks like 9/11/01. Such defeats often evoke humiliation and a desire for revenge, in a sort of feedback loop of reinforcement. We see that, too, in families where significant abuse has occurred. Grandparents can uniquely teach our grandchildren about what they can learn from our past.
Last 9/11, in 2021, Queen Elizabeth, who has lived through all those wars, honored the anniversary with our anthem and moment of silence. This year that needs to be reversed for her as she died yesterday on 9/8/22. As people gathered at Buckingham Palace soon after the Queen mother died, a double rainbow, a symbol of transformation, also emerged in a double serendipity.
Sometimes, conflict in families is as intractable as international conflict. The hope is that the recent conflict between her grandsons William and Harry was resolving before she died. Such family conflict resolution should be a goal of any family. Unconditional forgiveness can be necessary at times for positive transformation.
We all can learn from failures and the spiritual inspiration of double rainbows to break a cycle. If anything, more positive can still come out of 9/11/22. Let it be the wisdom to not retaliate from prior humiliation, when it is not necessary for safety, whether in personal or political life.
Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.