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Book: And Then Your Soul is Gone

Chapter: Toward Building a Different World: A National Swerve

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.41863


Chapter Five explores the consequences rising out of a social analysis of moral injury: a clearer view motivates a new perspective, seeing war through a different lens, and rethinking the human worldbuilding of war-culture. Increased collective awareness regarding moral injury an atrocity, an intolerable and culpable harm that human beings have the power to mitigate, challenges human assumptions regarding war as inevitable and a sacred pillar of the nation. This new lens strengthens nascent cultural swerves in national patterns of thought, imagination and identity. Examples of such morphing notions of identity, and concomitant decision-making regarding the use of violence, include the Covid-19 pandemic, that has strengthened collective calls for a pause among militaries and militias, the complete overhauling of institutions of police in the U.S., and at least a temporary ceasing of the violence of war in order to address the needs of public health. Calls to address the violence of police brutality in the 2020 landscape of the United States may not be separated from the violence of war-culture coming home to roost in the nation’s streets, communities, and places of incarceration. Human beings are capable of rethinking our world-building. A shifting, swerving U.S. national identity could dethrone war and militarism in the national imaginary. But any re-evaluation involves effort to refuse the dominant mode U.S. nationalism that sacralizes war and militarism as “the necessary sacrifice for human/national security and wellbeing.” Unsettling such ground opens the way to further questions, regarding beliefs about conflict, security, militarism and war; indeed, we cannot help but be faced with the senseless world-building in a culture of war, and our deep ties of identification with it. In the end, if human beings were to discard the assumption that moral injury is a necessary ethical accommodation in a world of war, what other kinds of identity, and what architectural shapes of world-building would we create?

Chapter Contributors

  • Kelly Denton-Borhaug ( - kdentonborhaug) 'Moravian College'