My parents always went out of their way to help others. You could never call them “comfortable”. Without my father’s 55-77 hour working week at a local factory (for 48 years) they would have struggled. But empathy and compassion towards others I learned from them.
Some of you will know and will have learned Transactional Analysis. One of the best models is called the drama triangle. There are three roles-shock horror, it’s a triangle-persecutor, rescuer and victim. We all have a favoured role. Those rules can switch in an instant. For example in this era of snowflakes and virtue signalling is one in which victims become persecutors in the blink of an eye. Yes my friends I am a rescuer. I like to help people. As a therapist some of my “interventions” have saved people’s lives. No pause for applause or recognition because seeing someone come to me in a state of despair and leaving with hope and transformation is reward enough.
25 years ago, learning NLP, I was told in no uncertain terms if you wanted to be a psychotherapist to be praised and hero worshipped, leave the course now.
The difficulty is of course because we have (we rescuers) tools and resources greater than our clients it has the potential to make us feel somewhat superior. A way round this is to teach the client to use the technology. To give them access to “my” resources. The best way round this is to tap into one’s (everyone’s) life purpose. To serve.
I am privileged to call as a friend a man who has been in the very depths of hell on earth. He has fought in some of the most dangerous places on the planet. He is a soldier.
My biological father, who I never met, was an American Air Force major. My two (half) brother’s also had a military man as a father. My biological mother, Win, had close links to the armed services. My stepdaughter Jan (Anne’s daughter) was in the army. Vanessa’s late father Keith and her grandfather were both in the armed services.
One of the most pointless, irrational and despicable plagues on humanity is war. Glimpses of my most recent past lives have contributed to my abhorrence of war. But we all know we cannot judge and condemn everyone for their choices in this world. My soldier friend is an amazing man. His politics, his motivation and his actions “in the field” are an irrelevance to me. Read on and find out why.
You would like this bloke no matter what he did.
Recently he was telling me, reluctantly of course, about a couple of incidents he had been involved in. At the time of the invasion of Iraq (2003), he was in Baghdad when all hell broke loose. Bullets, grenades, bombs and rockets. The statue of Saddam Hussein being pulled down. He was in an armoured personnel carrier- I think that’s what it was-with an Iraqi driver and the head of an American news network. Had any of them got out of the vehicle, death waited impatiently. The media man had lost the plot “were all going to die”. As the mayhem grew, my friend noticed a piece of rock about half the size of the vehicle was flying through the air and heading their way. He “instinctively” threw himself over the Iraqi driver to protect him. Fortunately the rock didn’t crush the car and only caused relatively minor damage. Outside the car were to young Iraqi men barely conscious, completely burned by an explosion with their hands on the bonnet of the vehicle, still standing, but not for very long.
The cynic would describe my friend’s actions in protecting the driver as selfish, as he knew if they stayed where they were the vehicle would be destroyed. The sceptic would doubt that his actions were instinctive. Someone who has a measure of my friend, me, knows that to do what he did is in his nature.
On another occasion, details were spared, but no doubt it was at least as horrific as the above incident, my friend found himself, after the danger passed shaking uncontrollably. The shakes came from nowhere and he could not stop them. Because other people witnessed this his self-appraisal was that he was a coward.
I know this man has many more stories to tell should he ever want to do so. In his opinion he sidestepped PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) owing to his own way of processing these nightmares. Of course he has had some help, and some significant people appearing in his life at the right time. He admits he still has some anger in civilian life, which occasionally surfaces, but is always under control.
My anger, which also occasionally surfaces, and is almost always under control (except when the computer breaks down or I can’t get the top off a bottle) is directed towards the puppet masters who instigate and profit from war. Perhaps somewhat pathetically, I am more angry at the state of popular culture. If you wanted to see me off, not unlike the treatment of Malcolm McDowell in Clockwork Orange, force me to watch 30 minutes of adverts.
My friend and I might both be called “Fringe Dwellers” a term coined by the late Stuart Wilde. I’m not sure he would like to be seen as one! The world that most people live in is not our world. Snowflakes, virtue signallers, self-identifiers, “reality TV stars”, debauched behaviour, TV screens in pubs, liars, those who have no self-awareness, those who indulge themselves totally, and a host of other anti-social acts are anathema to both of us. I doubt if we will ever completely agree on what caused this situation, but we are at one in rejecting it.
My friend and I are both rescuers. In my friend’s case it is very difficult to describe what he has done and where he has been. He has saved lives, he has taken lives, and he remains at his core one of the most decent men I’ve ever met. I’d like to think I am a pretty decent bloke too. A work in progress like everyone else.
Yet when either one of us upsets someone, awkwardly or unthinkingly, the person being upset cannot be expected, nor should they, to take into account our altruistic, heroic, fabled and glorious past.
If you check out the drama triangle you will find the persecutor thinks they are better than everybody else. The victim thinks everyone else is better than them. The dangerous rescuer also thinks they are better than everyone else. The true rescuer, the one who shuns praise, recognition and celebration just wants to serve. The flawed rescuer identifies behaviours and sometimes people who we would rather be without. No matter what our favourite role, the upside of the persecutor is the teacher. The victim becomes the learner and the rescuer becomes the enabler.
Until we had this conversation I could never have imagined that my chosen role in life could be equated to that of a soldier.
Whether or not you believe in karma or that all our lives here on earth are spent as prisoners of an ill meaning extra-terrestrial race, one thing is certain. We are all rescuers, conspiracy theorists, puppet masters, vacuous celebrities. We are everyman. At least while we’re here.
So let us drink a non-alcoholic toast to all the flawed rescuers out there. Rescuers will save humanity, all sentient beings and the planet. If they can avoid glueing themselves to barriers, crossing the Atlantic on a millionaire’s yacht and condemning everyone else who rejects the lies.
Let us rescue ourselves.
Jack Stewart, August 13th 2019.