Am I Sick?
by Jay Janson /
July 12th, 2010
“The human rights agency Amnesty International has confirmed that
35 women and children were killed following the latest US attacks on an
alleged al-Qaeda hideout in Yemen. Cluster bombs. are in the news
again, thanks to a recent report from Amnesty International.”1
It really hurts that we are killing so many of our Muslim brothers
and sisters and their kids right in their homes, in their streets, in
their own countries. I’ve been reading about Post Traumatic Stress
Syndrome, wondering why it doesn’t apply to people like me. I’m mentally
and emotionally upset about us killing a vast amount of people in their
own residences in cities, towns, and the countryside across six Muslim
countries (as I put down these words, I notice I’m breathing short, feel
a light press of anxiety on the left side of my chest).
For more than fifty years I’ve been reading about, and listening to,
news of body counts and bombings (I’m seventy-nine) — fifty years of
trying to protect my mind and the bottom of my stomach.
I wonder how many people in the world understand what I have had on
my mind and in my stomach off and on for years — I mean, outside of
people in the couple of dozen countries actually bombed by us?
How many other Americans feel as bad as I do about it? All this
bombing, invading, occupying? It’s always done in our name. Am I
I have always tended to take my responsibilities seriously. As a
school boy, when I saw newspaper headlines about death by starvation in
China, it would bring to mind the nun who had prepared me, as a seven
year old, for my First Holy Communion. Her instruction really stuck in
my serious child’s mind, especially the story of Cain fluffing off God
with, “Hey, am I my brother’s keeper?”
I never really recovered from the post traumatic stress from fifteen
years of us slaughtering millions of poor Vietnamese in Vietnam and
bombing the living hell out of Laos and Cambodia.
A long time before this present decade of anguish over our killing
Muslims in a half dozen countries (but not in Saudi Arabia where the
9/11 highjackers came from), my peace of mind had been radically
disturbed for having learned the reason for all this mass butchery going
on for a half-century, starting with our taking the lives of a couple
of million Koreans in Korea.
Each psychological upset led me to do a little research. Confusing
reports of why Eisenhower was bombing Laos started me off. Slowly it
became a habit to research every news bite explaining why we had to go
somewhere on the other side of the world and kill to stamp out communism
in little countries, but not the two big ones already governed by
It didn’t make me feel any better in my heart to learn that our
unimaginably horrible taking of innocent peoples’ lives in smaller
countries overseas was in every case brought about by lies that made it
acceptable to the American people. Hard working decent people, busy with
their personal lives, careers, and families, who simply trusted what
each president told them since it was backed up and well explained as
being right and necessary on their television, which they trusted even
But that knowledge did give me strength, made me angry, and motivated
me to tell my family and friends how this enormous death toll was made
possible by naively believing astonishing or bewildering news we should
have suspected all along. Blatant lies, so easily disproved using the
government’s own publications, readily available encyclopedia articles,
and just plain common sense.
So for a few years, thinking that if a stupid guy like me could
uncover all these pretty obvious lies, I could help spread an opposition
to these wars by passing the simple truth around to people more
intelligent than me and capable of doing something about this vicious
What astounded me was the reaction from colleagues and friends. “Not
interested in politics.” “What are you talking about?” “Have my own
problems.” Only a few were willing to at least listen, maybe a couple
answering, “Well, maybe we make mistakes sometimes, but we’re trying to
do the right thing over there.”
My brother stopped corresponding for three years, angry that I was
“duped by communist propaganda” about the Vietnam war. (After the war,
he apologized, agreeing that I was right, but I’m afraid he still goes
on believing most of what is said on the networks’ evening news.) Last
year my loving sister asked me to take her off my mailing list — I was
outraging her and her Texas fundamentalist husband.
Apart from two very politically aware sons, and a politically
concerned nephew, it was only my 9th-grade educated immigrant Mom who
understood, was upset, and would complain on her own about “the terrible
things the government was doing.” Seems the more government-sponsored
education we get, the more we are purposely misinformed and made to
accept our government’s homicidal violence. (A perception, by the way,
that logically leads to the awareness that our government is not of,
for, or by the people.)
People at work (in the orchestra) did not want to hear about “US
foreign policy.” If pressed regarding our responsibility as citizens,
many would answer, “Look! I vote in elections.” My unrecognized PTSD
over a war on the other side of the world was widely regarded as a sign
of mental unbalance, a personality problem.
The next most important sensitizing influence after that nun was a
junior high Afro-American civics teacher, “If you have free speech and
you don’t speak up, you are guilty of complicity in the crimes of your
government, and ignorance is no excuse in a court of law.” So off and on
I took graduate level history courses at four universities and an
institute in Germany.
Music was miraculous, and performing was a wonderful way to make a
living, but awaiting the downbeat at the Mostly Mozart Summer Festival,
looking out at an audience of professionals, I would be thinking that
right about this time, 8 PM, 8 AM morning in Asia, the planes were
taking off in Guam for high-altitude bombing over Vietnam while we
listened to Mozart just the way the Nazis had listened to Wagner. I
would get a burning feeling beneath my feet to stand up and say, “Hey,
could we take a break? The planes are taking off to bomb right now and
Mozart didn’t have that in mind as he composed this music.”
But I didn’t stand up, and when Martin Luther King said “Silence is
treason,” it was me he was talking about.
I’m sure Mozart would have approved of the “let’s stop and consider
what we are doing” tone of the articles Jay Janson, historian, has been
composing. I figure it’s my therapy for my present Muslim killing Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD initially was called “Shell Shock’. It
got broadened to apply to people listening to the awful explosions from
afar. Perhaps the medical profession, itself, will come to diagnose
people like me, wincing for imagining the agony in death throes of
fellow human beings, (reported in daily AP Press reports from the Middle
East as a ”success”), as suffering from Post Traumatic Stress.
Would psychologists and mental health experts deny that millions of
kind and compassionate Germans experienced a type of PTSD as their
German armies invaded dozens of nations? Or was it only the many
millions of Russians having their families and homes blown to bits who
Treating sensitivity to the pain of others as a serious
malady would lead to considering how to prescribe cures. It would
require society to halt the dropping of explosives on people or perform
some sort of lobotomy on those suffering from PTSD that would permit the
patients to adjust to exploding human beings.
Since society in the self-proclaimed “greatest country in the
world” has not yet evolved to being able to control its criminally
insane, and since lobotomies (except those done painlessly over many
years by commercial mass media) are a drastic procedure no longer much
in use, therapy must be the answer
In some cases just talking about what’s bothering you can work as
therapy. It didn’t work for me in America because it was too difficult
to find anyone who would listen. So I began to write.
My first therapy was to become enlightened as to why the killing that
was causing my distress was happening. Advanced therapy has become
doing everything possible to stop the killing that is bothering me.
Therapy can wind up turning PTS into something useful. The PTS
disorder becomes only a relatively easy way to deal with the symptoms of
the serious mental illness — War-For-Profit Criminal Insanity (which is
probably caused by a prolonged exaggerated life-style of
Therapeutic activism goes beyond being an exercise for the protection
of one’s own sanity. It bolsters one’s personal integrity, citizen
responsibility and accentuates love of life.
Consider how the “Shell Shocked” people in America feel when looking
at the eye-repelling photos of the Holocaust. The obvious reaction is to
just punish Germans. But the logical therapy would be to go after the
owners of the majority of U.S. banks and industries which backed and
invested in turning an initially prostrate Nazi Germany into the world’s
foremost military power, fully aware of Hitler’s hatred of Jews and
communists and plans for expansion eastward with his armies. All this
investment was done right out in the open and is fully recorded for
anyone suffering PTSD from remembering the Holocaust to read and
identify: Rockefeller, Henry Ford, DuPont, etc.
Had such a course in therapy been completed, and the profiting
banking industrialists who backed Hitler punished, this same group of
scions of banking might not have been able to pull off a second
Holocaust in Vietnam.
Holocaust PTSD therapy for me is to tell all the young folks of the
virulent anti-Semitism in the United States before WWII, when I was a
child. One didn’t have to be actually Jewish oneself to have been
acutely aware of it all around you. Therapy is knowing that Henry Ford’s
published writings were required reading for the Hitler Youth
The therapy would have been, and still is, the same for the Vietnam
war, the Korean war, the bombing of Lebanon, and the Dominican Republic,
Panama, and Cuba invasions. Identify the bankers and powerful business
leaders who required these wars for their balance sheets of profit, and
accumulation of capital and resources of the invaded countries to
control, and if they are too powerful to imprison, try to prevent them,
and the media they own, from promoting future wars.
If you don’t have PTSD, and enjoy your mornings with no disturbing
thoughts of some lovable Asian child who had all its mornings suddenly
obliterated along with his or her life on earth, by some American
operating a weapon of mass destruction thinking he was doing duty in
your name, it’s odd that you have continued to read this article.
Maybe even “well adjusted” citizens of the empire have some PTSD
lurking in the corners of their minds. Maybe many will someday have an
outbreak of PTSD if they happen to do some reading and overcome the
severe American disability to put oneself in the shoes of our designated
enemies (but not the shoes of their children too small to fit in) or if
they happen to think of some lovable Asian child, one of millions, who
never got to see a single morning as a grown up, the apple of some mom
and dad’s eye, a promise to nation and community, and imagine his or her
pathetic cadaver or body parts buried lovingly by parents (if they,
themselves, be not exterminated as well by fellow Americans using
weapons of mass destruction.)
If the reader has read this far, it is more probable he or she is
suffering from the continual Post Traumatic Stress of being a citizen of
the blood soaked American empire, or at least uneasy that there is no
real secure immunity from a future attack of PTSD — not as long as the
sun never sets on the nation’s network of military bases.
Bombs And Civilian Lives: Efficient Killing, Profits And Human Rights,
by Ramzy Baroud, Dissident Voice, July 8, 2010. [↩]
Jay Janson, spent eight years as Assistant
Conductor of the Vietnam Symphony Orchestra in Hanoi and also toured,
including with Dan Tai-son, who practiced in a Hanoi bomb shelter. The
orchestra was founded by Ho Chi Minh,and it plays most of its concerts
in the Opera House, a diminutive copy of the Paris Opera. In 1945, our
ally Ho, from a balcony overlooking the large square and flanked by an
American Major and a British Colonel, declared Vietnam independent.
Everyone in the orchestra lost family, "killed by the Americans" they
would mention simply, with Buddhist un-accusing acceptance. Jay can be
reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
articles by Jay.