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"Bad Talk Sad Talk"

Dr. Mike Colson

Over the last few years I have become quite used to being a lighting rod for people’s anger. People I haven’t seen in years appear to be triggered by the knowledge of my wartime experiences and forego social pleasantries to launch right into some anti-war, anti-government, or other tirade. For argument sake - and arguments they can become – let’s call this habit “bad talk”.

A few examples of bad talk hurled in my direction – and maybe yours – are:

“Hey, what you think of your government now?”
“Enough soldiers are dead now…when are we going to get out of there?”
“How can we send people to war and neglect them when they return?”
“You were a military guy…what’s up?”

These comments have one thing in common; all inexorably lead me to a dark place where I fight to remain calm and stay composed. But that isn’t the worst of it. As I spiral through one bad conversation after another, I see a pattern began to emerge…bad talk is in reality sad talk.

Sad talk, as I see it, is depressing conversation that people employ when they do not know what to believe. Confusion, media bombardment, death tolls, pictures of suffering, stories of faulty facilities or uncaring bureaucracies can have debilitating and long term effects on individuals and communities at large. The talk is simply a way of speaking out. Bad talk is the result of sad thinking…and I get sad listening to it.

So, what do combat and service veterans do when the sad bug infects conversations? Here is a thought; listen. If we take the time to hear them we might find that the “bad talk sad talk” isn’t personal to us, rather it is a cry for help from them.

We are servants – scarred, skittish, someone afraid ourselves, often angry. But we also have answers because, unlike so many who utter baseless opinions and rhetoric, we’ve been there and done that. We are the experts…so lets help them. And, in so doing we might find our own voice that underscores – with credibility – the value of living a life of importance in uniform and out!

Good Luck.