Saturday, April 16, 2011

to survive & not survive, both at the same time

When I read that Clay Hunt committed suicide, I was drawn to re-reading the book "Every Man in This Village is a Liar" by Megan Stack. Clay Hunt was a marine corporal, a purple heart recipient, an Iraq/Afghanistan veteran and a veteran advocate. He lobbied for veterans on Capitol Hill, he told veterans they weren't alone, he performed humanitarian work, and he road-biked with wounded veterans.

Yet, on March 31st, Clay Hunt shot himself.

The passage I was searching to find in Megan Stack's book was this:
"As it turned out, the first thing I knew about war was also the truest, and maybe it's true for nations as for individuals: You can survive and not survive, both at the same time."
Clay Hunt (right) Oct. 2010 Ride to Recovery

"If I had one thing to say to my fellow veterans, it would be this: Continue to serve, even though we have taken off our uniforms," Hunt wrote in an online testimonial for Team Rubicon. "No matter how great or small your service is, it is desired and needed by the world we live in today."

My compassion for Clay Hunt explodes; I feel sick at the loss of such a thoughtful person. I try to wrap my political beliefs and hopes for peace, together with the reality of war and government bureaucracy. And I go back to Megan's book and read:

"You can overcome the things that are done to you, but you cannot escape the things that you have done.
      Here is the truth: It matters, what you do at war. It matters more than you ever want to know. Because countries, like people, have collective consciences and memories and souls, and the violence we deliver in the name of our nation is pooled like sickly tar at the bottom of who we are. The soldiers who don't die for us come home again. They bring with them the killers they became on our national behalf, and sit with their polluted memories and broken emotions in our homes and schools and temples. We may wish it were not so, but action amounts to identity. We become what we do.You can tell yourself all the stories you want, but you can't leave your actions over there. You can't build a wall and expect to live on the other side of memory. All of the poison seeps back into our soil."

We can survive and not survive, both at the same time.



  2. I just found your post via Twitter. Clay was a dear friend of ours, and I think these words explain what no one else can seem to explain. Beautifully stated.

  3. Peyton-
    Thank you. I am so sorry for your loss.
    love, patty