This is a repost that didn’t get much attention the first time around so here it is again, edited just a bit.
BTW: Please check out Jumped by a Deadly Cholla, a collection of speculative fiction posted on my writing blog–if you haven’t already.
If you were around during the Vietnam War, maybe you remember that oft seen refrain in the title above. It was on posters and elsewhere.
There really is no good war. Some religions say there are at least just ones. Others deny that principle. People can certainly extend one-to-one self defense to defense of a community or a nation. Inevitably, however, innocents suffer. So do the people fighting in wars. Regardless, there will be much death and suffering.
Today, as much other times, war is raging across the world. No need to mention locations; you know where they are.
Soldiers who fight in war see and do terrible, inhuman deeds. They suffer PTSD from the memories they relive at prompts that occur in daily life. So do the survivors of the war—those who lost friends and loved ones or were themselves victims. It used to go by other names, shell shock, war neurosis and more. It’s all the same and not just from war-related events—rape, murder, and more. But let’s move on to the point of this post.
I didn’t suffer PTSD after a year in Vietnam—I wasn’t in combat, nor did I witness it directly. I came close, but not close enough. My brothers had far different wartime experiences than me—and each other—during the Korean War. Both were in the Marines—one drafted and the other called back up after a prior enlistment. The draftee served as a radar operator in Hawaii for two years. The older one saw combat as a platoon sergeant—spending time in the Chosin Reservoir—a grim battle. The former suffered not at all, of course. The older one became an alcoholic. The first had a family and retired from a successful career at a major American corporation.
If I were Derek, the protagonist of my time-travel novel, or had his capacity, could I go back and perform a reset on my deceased oldest brother? What might he have accomplished had he not died of a heart attack at 48? He was overweight, a smoker and a 20-plus year alcoholic that drank a fifth of whisky each day. He had a brief stint of sobriety lasting nearly two years before relapsing. He had a girlfriend from the past who he reunited with during the booze break. They might have married had he never used tobacco and alcohol to mediate memories of life at war—and the nearly simultaneous death of our father from cancer.
I don’t know, today, what his life might have been. I won’t know next month or next year. But I will write about it. Perhaps in the Derek novel, with some changes to my brother’s circumstances and connection to me (writing from life, but NOT a memoir). Or I might come up with an answer in the Buddhist fiction series that I will start sooner. Consider the correlation of changing one’s life through Buddhism with that of meddling with the past via time travel. In Buddhism, one creates karma through thought, word and deed. Simply, one makes causes that inscribe potential results in one’s life. Karma is not predestination. It’s constantly changing as one makes good causes and bad causes. Not only that, but the Buddhism which I practice enables one to eradicate (or change) negative karma. We have described how in other posts.
In the meantime, here’s a brief explanation. Let’s say you did something years ago that you regret. Something that could get you fired, end a relationship, make you sick, etc. You can’t change what you did. But, you can lessen or erase entirely the effects of such karma through connecting with your Buddha nature and the karmic storage in your life.
Not quite traveling through time, but the result is the same as going back and not doing what you did.