Bowling in the Dark
When I called the Chicago Braille Center about their Bowling League, an elderly secretary named Virginia asked if I was sighted, not sighted, or visually-impaired. I explained that I wear contacts but would like to play without them. I suspect her white eyebrows knitted together before her puzzled, „Oh, that is interesting . . . you could play with your glasses, too.‰ The league is a mix of sighted and non-sighted players.
Virginia is so sweet on the phone. She‚s completely blind. She has three sisters. All of them started losing their vision when they were nine years old: retinal deterioration. As she tells me about her family, I wonder about the lightless world on her end of the line. „We had so much fun. Our mother didn‚t have enough money to spoil us, so she encouraged us to do everything. Our blind friends‚ mothers wouldn‚t let them near the stove or too far from the house but we did all of that. ŒGo out and live‚ mother told us.‰ They went roller-skating. Virginia got a black eye trying to keep her friend from falling. „But I had fun,‰ she told her mom and returned again and again, heedless of the bruises. Did they trail their fingers along the wall, or skate backwards with the hotshots? Her sister turned 84 this weekend. They got together and played cards. Four blind daughters. Her parents didn‚t want to have any more kids, but along came her brother. He has perfect vision. The doctors said the vision loss was hereditary, but could find no record of it in their past and no trace, it seems, in the future. All of the grandchildren can see just fine.
I must meet these sisters. Do they wear only red? Did they fall in love and get married? What do they dream about? Why does their world appeal to me? As a kid, I sometimes thought it‚d be interesting to be an orphan. An adventure. I was equally convinced that if I went blind I‚d enjoy it˜even be a better person somehow. This renewed fascination with blindness coincides with my first-ever purchase of eye makeup.
I joined a league yesterday˜not Virginia‚s, but one connected to the Chicago Lighthouse, a non-profit organization that teaches job and life skills to the blind and visually impaired. I‚ll be a sub for the rest of the season. My average yesterday was in the high 80‚s . . . woe to the team that gets stuck with me. And that was with my contacts in. I realized halfway to the subway that I‚d forgotten my contact case, so I couldn‚t take them out. I was late, nervous about joining the league, and I had, no kidding, a blind date afterwards˜more than enough surprises for one night. I decided to play in the Lighthouse league with contacts and in Virginia‚s without them.
Just about everyone is middle-aged and African American. An uncommon social situation for a white, middle class girl from the northside, ya know? Needless to say, I felt a little awkward introducing myself. I joined in on the Mike, Marvin, Don, Ralph vs. Horace, Lisa, Taxi, Mary game. Neither side needed a sub so I just bowled for my average. My first three balls were spares and strikes and everything else sucked. But these people can bowl! There are only three completely blind people on the league, a bunch of visually impaired, and a few sighted players. The blind average in the low 20‚s-30‚s. I don‚t know how they even get 10. They hold onto a rail that leads them to the lane, line themselves up, and toss the ball like they‚re playing bocce. No big swings. They have to be perfectly aligned with the lane. Sticky floors are an enemy. After the toss, they hear the ball plunk down followed by that long roll down the lane and either the crash of pins, or a click as it falls in the gutter.
There‚s a wide range of visual impairments among the league‚s members. Some can see the pins but not determine how many are there, some can only see the start of the lane. You often have to say, „That‚s a 7-10 split, Mary.‰ Or „Marvin, you‚ve got 1-3-5.‰ Marvin has a flashy windup you wouldn‚t believe, scores a lot of strikes, and does a superbowl shuffle. He‚s a riot˜always dancing and shouting and distracting anyone within fifty feet. Lisa eggs him on. She is loud and doesn‚t hesitate to tell you your business. She‚s also really nice˜didn‚t make fun of me when I bungled the scoring. She‚s sighted, and a decent bowler. Mary is an elderly woman who can‚t see much. She follows the railing to the lane, holds the ball above her head, does a tiny little swing, and then drops her ball down with just enough force to make it to the end. Gets lots of spares. She has „The Beast‰ engraved on her ball. Don bowls strikes. He sits quietly in the second row of seats and ignores Marvin. He‚s older and his small sons run around us all evening. Ralph is a big guy who says almost nothing. He cuts an impressive figure in his tight white T-shirt and wide-leg denim. Taxi bowls a lot like Mary, but she‚s much younger, big glasses, can‚t see the pins at all.
Horace and Mike have worked at the Lighthouse for 20 years. Horace is an older gentleman who keeps the game moving while standing on a little towel between turns. „To keep my shoes from getting dirty.‰ (I realize I‚m the only one with rented shoes and ball.) Mike teaches mobility for the Lighthouse. He goes to homes and teaches cane walking. There‚s a correlation between being able to bowl and being able to cane walk. Both depend on knowing your centerline. Mike promises to bring me a book about mobility concepts next time. He loves to talk (calls himself a frustrated writer), loves these people, loves what he does. He tried working somewhere else but couldn‚t stand it; the people at the Lighthouse were so much nicer to each other. He works with kids and adults, people who were born blind and mostly people who are going blind, a process that magnifies who a person is by bringing out the best or the worst. He compared the stages of going blind to the stages of mourning: anger, denial, despair, and acceptance. He also helps train guide dogs. Only 3.5% of the blind have guide dogs, because they‚re so much work. People will pet a guide dog and ignore the owner. Most people don‚t know how to talk to the blind. Losing eye contact and the ability to approach (or avoid) people, is a huge obstacle for people who are losing their sight. My jaw drops when Mike talks about teaching golf to the blind, after all isn‚t half the game about how scenic the course is? He narrates the game for them, and they get a kick out of listening to his descriptions of the course and the ball‚s flight past sandtraps and water hazards.
I left a little early for my date, but will definitely bowl with them again. This is great. The date went fine, although the dark circles around his eyes were a turn-off. I won‚t call him back.
12/6/01 Mike, Ralph, Marvin, Me vs. Charles, Anna, Juanita, Ron
In high school we had a gym class called „Individual Sports.‰ One of the sections was bowling. Everyday for three weeks we got on the bus, drove the three miles to the alley, bowled a game, and then drove back to school. I thought, „This is why I‚m at public school˜unlimited opportunities to goof off.‰ My best friend and I used the hour to steal bowling shoes. At the end of three weeks I had five pairs lined up in the back of my closet. I couldn‚t wear them because my mom had eagle eyes. She‚d want to know where I got all those shoes. Eventually, I snuck them out of the house at the bottom of a garbage bag headed for Salvation Army. Who‚d have thought that one day I‚d be merrily heading off to my bowling league?
Mike‚s team, The Fab Four, needed a sub so I played with them against the #1 ranked team and their secret weapon Juanita. She can‚t see more than a few spots of light but she consistently bowls strikes. She sits at the end of the first bench and you have to shout at her a couple times when its her turn cause she‚s so busy chatting. She talks with attitude. I dream of being able to say „Oh no you didn‚t!‰ the way she does. She has googly eyes like on cheap dolls. They move frantically and independently of each other. She trails a finger along the scoring table on her way to the ball dispenser and then uses the rail to guide her to the lane. She has a cotton-candy-pink ball. On the forward swing she taps the ground near her feet, lifts the ball in the air again, and then drops it. That sounds disjointed but it‚s all one smooth move. The tap is somehow essential; if she misses it, it‚s a gutterball. Watching her bowl I realized how good the crash of pins on a strike must sound to someone who can‚t see them.
Ron sees a little more than Juanita. He is middle-aged, wears black wranglers with suspenders and a tshirt. His eyes look in different directions (but never right at you). He keeps a miniature telescope in his pocket to check how many pins he has down. Ron has worked at the Lighthouse for 18 years. He is friendly and easy to tease. We sit next to each other most of the night. We joke about dating and the Green Bay Packers and having glasses „so heavy you fall over‰ or „so thick they deflect bullets.‰ We swap high-fives on our good turns. Our scores are very close on all three games. I tell him he better watch out, I‚m not a nice person and might decide to sabotage him. He answers, „Nah, you can tell if someone‚s nice by how they sound and you‚re not mean.‰ When he bowls, he drops his ball in the right corner and it hugs the gutter, curving into the pins halfway down the lane. Seems like most of the guys bowl curve balls and the women bowl em straight down the lane.
Charles bowls a curve. He‚s nearly as good as Mike, aka the Cleanup Man, the best bowler in the league. Charles is the scorekeeper. He spends most of the night frustrated with how slow everyone is. He‚s very reserved. Sighted, with glasses. Everyone likes to examine the scoresheet. They hold it real close to their face and peer at the numbers. Charles endures these inspections.
Anna is also sighted and reserved, or maybe she‚s just plain surly. She has the fastest bowl in the league. She lifts the ball straight above her head, swings her arm so far back you think it‚s gonna fly off, and then launches it forward, leaning all of her ample body into the swing. That ball doesn‚t touch down for thirty feet. When her right foot squeaks, she scores a knockout.
Ralph is as big as a fridge, but he moves soundlessly, keeps quiet and to himself, a new bowler with a knockout swing.
Marvin is loud and outrageous, chews gum and talks to three people at once.
I am constantly disoriented by all the conversations going on around me. They are loud and excited and they crisscross each other endlessly, but if you say someone‚s name quietly they always pick up on it. They know by listening when you‚ve scored a spare or strike. They shout, „Lots of wood!‰ and slap your hand.
I wonder how long before they will accept me. I hope they don‚t think this is some kind of voyeurism. It‚s so fun, it‚s the best thing I do all week. I want to get good in time for the March tourney. It sounds like everyone goes.
My brother told my parents I‚m bowling with a league for the blind, but left out the bit about non-sighted players. Apparently, my parents assumed that I‚m passing myself off as blind. Mom left a message on my voice mail that says, „Honey, you know, it‚s really not right to take advantage of blind people. Please give us a call. We need to talk.‰
Little Known Facts
by April Durham
Louis Armstrong’s 16 year-old mother sometimes worked as a prostitute. As a little kid you realize something is wrong.
I once knew a man whose face and neck were covered in boils. Great seeping volcanoes that changed form each time we saw him. My sister would count them while he ate his chops and mash at our long table. She was discrete, never using her fingers to keep track, so I don’t think he noticed. His mother had been a prostitute but only after his father was killed in a fire leaving no pension and a large mortgage on their dried out farm. She sold the farm and bought a small apartment in town, but soon found she didn’t have money to buy food or pay for heat and no skills for working, not even as a baker’s assistant. Maybe enough training was offered from the social services bureau but she was a trifle lazy and chose instead to do something she already knew.
As a small boy, the man with boils watched all sorts of men walk though the lobby of the apartment building into his mother’s room and out again a little later adjusting their belts and patting their pockets for a wallet or billfold. Sometimes several men waited in the lobby where the boy read his book about fly fishing or played solitaire with tarot cards. They never looked at each other but maintained a stern profile gazing out the window into the broken, frozen garden. Once qs the men waited, the boy read an article in National Geographic about a French researcher who lived in an cave 100 meters underground for months and months. Isolated but connected by electric wires, the man slowly went mad and wrote about elaborate suicides by suffocation using a phosphorus lamp.
The boy developed the boils when he was eight. The hinges of his jaws ached when he spoke so he stayed mostly silent and ate just enough to keep his mother from complaining. As an adult, he liked my mother’s chops as they were quite tender and he would eat his dinner, the same food each night, at the inn belonging to my parents. I was about 12 when he saw me counting my tips at the end of the bar and asked for a loan. I gave him what I had and then he left. Recently, not more than two weeks ago my mother forwarded a letter he had sent to the inn, now under new management. The letter said that he was sorry it had taken him so long to repay the loan but here it was with a small amount of interest and he was glad because he no longer had the boils.
Humming birds are savage creatures and defend a wide territory with aggression unmatched to their cute appearance. Once a hummingbird with a single foot chased several, much larger birds ¼ mile for no apparent reason.
My wife pretends to dislike chili peppers but I have caught her eating them directly from the jar. Bulbous red pickled bonnets from the Italian market. Great spoonfuls of spicy chutney peas and mango. She dislikes kissing me after her chili binges but this is fine by me as she has terrible breath most of the time.
My husband disappeared in Hollywood three years ago. I was in a shop buying candles and he vanished into the thick smoggy air. The police didn’t find him in any of the gutters or byways where dead johns are usually placed post-event. Eventually the police decided my husband had been carried off voluntarily, by his own passions or fears, and they stopped looking for him. I continued to search, circling the area between Ivar, Sunset, and Santa Monica Boulevard for several days. Then the farmers came with flowers and pumpkins and fuji apples to sell on the street and I saw someone who looked like my husband but also like another lover I had ten years before with someone who looked like Minnie Driver, a woman much taller than myself. Then I left that part of Hollywood and sat in my car for a few days.
If he fell off a tall rock and broke the bones in his limbs,
Into thousands of fragmented pieces, so they were
smooth like pie dough
I could arrange him into the correct shape, propped in a soft purple chair
sponge his brow and make Sleepytime tea
Slowly, without malice.
I could lick the blood from his fingers
suck the tips and get the fluids moving again.
If he lay in the road where he fell, I could lift his dead
Weight in the sloping curve
of my back, on the shelf
Of my bottom. Without wonder.
Tonight I met a woman who looks like Mel Gibson. It didn’t work for her as well as it does for him. I met her at a cocktail party behind the gas station that sells cold mixed drinks in small bottles. I usually have a Manhattan cocktail in the alley behind the gas station, sipping slowly and smoking the long cigarettes I favor once in while. They are very thin like sticks of sugar and have a sharp peppermint taste, nothing like your regular menthol cigarettes. I am often joined by other people looking to relax, unwind with a cocktail and a cigarette behind the gas station. We make it a regular occasion, classy, a great time for everyone.
Another woman who looks nothing like Mel Gibson, is drinking a mai tai with me in the alley tonight. These are too sweet for us and when we finish we have agreed to spend our money on red wine which is much more elegant and not so touristic as these fruity tropical drinks. There are a lot of tourists here and when we walk by Mann’s Chinese some of the young men want to take pictures with us because we are so glamorous, kind of like the movie stars who used to push their hands and feet into the concrete around Mann’s. Sometimes I let them take my picture. They say I kind of look like Veronica Lake. But I’m not a blonde like her. I tell them I’m more like Rita Hayworth and they laugh and slap my bottom. Then I tell them if they are fresh it will be $5 instead of $2 if they want a picture with me and mostly they just laugh and pinch or slap my bottom again before wandering off to find their friends. You can always tell these touristic types of young men because they usually have the same kind of short trousers, close haircuts, and ignorant accents. They are also often, usually drunk.
My wife is blind, pulsing and drained. Her thoughts shimmer around her like violent tissue, never spoken. I draw up, a string in a bag, a sphincter. The bag is empty and hangs like shriveled testicles behind me, below.
One hundred fifty six people in every 1000 suffer from a neurotic disorder. Partial immersion in scalding water is one kind of therapy used to treat depression..
Fifteen years ago, my husband was given a great stock market tip and made a lot of money on some kind of sports drink with isotopes or some other chemical sounding ingredient. We had only been married for two years then. We were very much in love. I never wanted a swimming pool but when I got it I was happy to lie beside it and read books. My husband decided he was tired of the pool and the pool upkeep and we moved to another house in LA, not so close to the Westside where our house with the pool was. Then he decided he wanted to live in the desert and we moved to Palm Springs Terrace Garden. Not exactly Palm Springs, but close to it. Then he got tired of all my books and my cat and threw them in the front yard and set them on fire, not the cat but the books and most of my clothes. He got a fine from the city of Palm Springs Terrace Garden for setting a fire without a permit, an illegal move in such a dry climate. He was very angry with me for causing this situation.
The first time ever I saw your face
I knew that I would have a hard time sleeping
My fingernails are a constant source
Of tension and discord.
The dirt comes from some place objectionable.
'Myth' of Chernobyl suffering exposed
Relocation and hand-outs have caused more illness than radiation, a new UN study concludes.
Sunday January 6, 2002
It is seen as the worst man-made disaster in history, killing tens of thousands, making tens of millions ill, and afflicting generations to come. Exhibitions of photographs of the deformed victims have toured the world, raising funds and awareness.
Now a report from the United Nations on the consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 15 years after the event comes to a very different conclusion. It says the medical effects of radiation are far less than was thought. The biggest damage to health has instead come from hypochondria and well-meaning but misguided attempts to help people.
The report suggests the reloca tion of hundreds of thousands of people 'destroyed communities, broke up families, and led to unemployment, depression, and stress-related illnesses'. Generous welfare benefits, holidays, food and medical help given to anyone declared a victim of Chernobyl have created a dependency culture, and created a sense of fatalism in millions of people.
The Human Consequences of the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident, published by the UN Development Programme and Unicef, is a challenge to those who seek to highlight the dangers of nuclear energy.
More than 100 emergency workers on the site of the accident on 26 April 1986 suffered radiation sickness, and 41 of them died. The biggest direct consequences of the radiation are increases in childhood thyroid cancer, normally a very rare disease, that increased 60-fold in Belarus, 40-fold in Ukraine, and 20-fold in Russia, totalling 1,800 cases in all.
The report says other evidence of increases in radiation-related diseases is very limited. 'Intensive efforts to identify an excess of leukaemia in the evacuated and controlled zone populations and recovery workers were made without success. There remains no internationally accredited evidence of an excess of leukaemia.' There is also no evidence of an increase in other cancers, and there has been no statistical increase in deformities in babies. The only deformities related to radiation were among babies of pregnant women working on the site at the time of the explosion.
The UN believes most of the deformed babies photographed by Western charities to raise funds have nothing to do with Chernobyl, but are the normal deformities that occur at a low level in every population. 'The direct effect of radiation is not that substantial,' said Oksana Garnets, head of the UN Chernobyl programme. 'There is definitely far more psychosomatic illness than that caused by radiation.'
The evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people, particularly from less contaminated areas, is seen as an over-reaction, which in some cases did more harm than good. 'The first reaction was to move people out. Only later did we think that perhaps some of them shouldn't have been moved. It has become clear that the direct influence of radiation on health is actually much less that the indirect consequences on health of relocating hundreds of thousands of people,' Garnets said.
Among relocated populations, there has been a massive increase in stress-related illnesses, such as heart disease and obesity, unrelated to radiation.
The UN is concerned about the corrosive effects of handouts to those classified as Chernobyl victims. In Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, they get more than 50 different privileges and benefits, including monthly payments and free school meals, medical treatment and holidays. In Ukraine, 'victims' get up to $100 a month.
In Ukraine, 92,000 people have been officially designated as permanently disabled, and half of the population says their health has been affected.
'There is an incentive to get classified as a victim. People getting benefits think they should get more and more. They think everything should be done for them by someone else - it creates a huge sense of fatalism and pessimism, which means they don't get on with their life,' Garnets said.
In the largely deserted village of Chernobyl, 18km from the reactor and deep inside the government's total exclusion zone, the UN's report was welcomed among the 600 people who have illegally returned to their old homes.
Nina Melnik, 47, who edits a local newsletter, said: 'I don't just know that relocating people killed more than the radiation did, it is scientifically proven. It was totally the wrong thing to do. They should open up the area and let everyone come back.'
The San Francisco Calamity by Earthquake and Fire
Introduction by Roger W. Lotchin
On the morning of April 18, 1906, San Francisco was struck by a violent earthquake that shook the city and ignited an even deadlier menace--a three-day fire that burned up and down the city's streets and incinerated its buildings and neighborhoods. Landmarks, homes, hotels, churches, and artwork were reduced to rubble and ash. Hundreds died and thousands more struggled to find food, money, and shelter or fled the city by ferry.
Pennsylvania native Charles Morris, one of the more prolific and versatile writers of his day, went to San Francisco immediately following the earthquake to interview survivors and observe the mayhem. The San Francisco Calamity by Earthquake and Fire was rushed into print a few weeks thereafter. Considered the first full and balanced account of the earthquake and fire, Morris's gripping record combines dramatic eyewitness accounts and firsthand observations with scientific fact and grim detail, contrasting romantic tales of heroism and escape with the stark realism of devastation, death, and loss.
Enhanced by numerous illustrations, The San Francisco Calamity by Earthquake and Fire captures the irrepressible spirit of turn-of-the-century San Francisco that helped the city recover and rebuild after one of the greatest natural disasters in American history. In a new introduction to this paperback edition, Roger W. Lotchin provides additional historical context and assesses the credibility and reputation of the book.
THE STORY OF AN EYEWITNESS
By Jack London, Collier's special Correspondent
(First published in Collier's, May 5, 1906)
Upon receipt of the first news of the earthquake, Collier's telegraphed to Mr. Jack London-who lives only forty miles from San Francisco-requesting him to go to the scene of the disaster and write the story of what he saw. Mr. London started at once, and he sent the following dramatic description of the tragic events he witnessed in the burning city.
THE earthquake shook down in San Francisco hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of walls and chimneys. But the conflagration that followed burned up hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of property There is no estimating within hundreds of millions the actual damage wrought. Not in history has a modern imperial city been so completely destroyed. San Francisco is gone. Nothing remains of it but memories and a fringe of dwelling-houses on its outskirts. Its industrial section is wiped out. Its business section is wiped out. Its social and residential section is wiped out. The factories and warehouses, the great stores and newspaper buildings, the hotels and the palaces of the nabobs, are all gone. Remains only the fringe of dwelling houses on the outskirts of what was once San Francisco.
Within an hour after the earthquake shock the smoke of San Francisco's burning was a lurid tower visible a hundred miles away. And for three days and nights this lurid tower swayed in the sky, reddening the sun, darkening the day, and filling the land with smoke.
On Wednesday morning at a quarter past five came the earthquake. A minute later the flames were leaping upward In a dozen different quarters south of Market Street, in the working-class ghetto, and in the factories, fires started. There was no opposing the flames. There was no organization, no communication. All the cunning adjustments of a twentieth century city had been smashed by the earthquake. The streets were humped into ridges and depressions, and piled with the debris of fallen walls. The steel rails were twisted into perpendicular and horizontal angles. The telephone and telegraph systems were disrupted. And the great water-mains had burst. All the shrewd contrivances and safeguards of man had been thrown out of gear by thirty seconds' twitching of the earth-crust.
The Fire Made its Own Draft
By Wednesday afternoon, inside of twelve hours, half the heart of the city was gone. At that time I watched the vast conflagration from out on the bay. It was dead calm. Not a flicker of wind stirred. Yet from every side wind was pouring in upon the city. East, west, north, and south, strong winds were blowing upon the doomed city. The heated air rising made an enormous suck. Thus did the fire of itself build its own colossal chimney through the atmosphere. Day and night this dead calm continued, and yet, near to the flames, the wind was often half a gale, so mighty was the suck.
Wednesday night saw the destruction of the very heart of the city. Dynamite was lavishly used, and many of San Francisco proudest structures were crumbled by man himself into ruins, but there was no withstanding the onrush of the flames. Time and again successful stands were made by the fire-fighters, and every time the flames flanked around on either side or came up from the rear, and turned to defeat the hard-won victory.
An enumeration of the buildings destroyed would be a directory of San Francisco. An enumeration of the buildings undestroyed would be a line and several addresses. An enumeration of the deeds of heroism would stock a library and bankrupt the Carnegie medal fund. An enumeration of the dead-will never be made. All vestiges of them were destroyed by the flames. The number of the victims of the earthquake will never be known. South of Market Street, where the loss of life was particularly heavy, was the first to catch fire.
Remarkable as it may seem, Wednesday night while the whole city crashed and roared into ruin, was a quiet night. There were no crowds. There was no shouting and yelling. There was no hysteria, no disorder. I passed Wednesday night in the path of the advancing flames, and in all those terrible hours I saw not one woman who wept, not one man who was excited, not one person who was in the slightest degree panic stricken.
Before the flames, throughout the night, fled tens of thousands of homeless ones. Some were wrapped in blankets. Others carried bundles of bedding and dear household treasures. Sometimes a whole family was harnessed to a carriage or delivery wagon that was weighted down with their possessions. Baby buggies, toy wagons, and go-carts were used as trucks, while every other person was dragging a trunk. Yet everybody was gracious. The most perfect courtesy obtained. Never in all San Francisco's history, were her people so kind and courteous as on this night of terror.
A Caravan of Trunks
All night these tens of thousands fled before the flames. Many of them, the poor people from the labor ghetto, had fled all day as well. They had left their homes burdened with possessions. Now and again they lightened up, flinging out upon the street clothing and treasures they had dragged for miles.
They held on longest to their trunks, and over these trunks many a strong man broke his heart that night. The hills of San Francisco are steep, and up these hills, mile after mile, were the trunks dragged. Everywhere were trunks with across them lying their exhausted owners, men and women. Before the march of the flames were flung picket lines of soldiers. And a block at a time, as the flames advanced, these pickets retreated. One of their tasks was to keep the trunk-pullers moving. The exhausted creatures, stirred on by the menace of bayonets, would arise and struggle up the steep pavements, pausing from weakness every five or ten feet.
Often, after surmounting a heart-breaking hill. they would find another wall of flame advancing upon them at right angles and be compelled to change anew the line of their retreat. In the end, completely played out, after toiling for a dozen hours like giants, thousands of them were compelled to abandon their trunks. Here the shopkeepers and soft members of the middle class were at a disadvantage. But the working-men dug holes in vacant lots and backyards and buried their trunks.
The Doomed City
At nine o'clock Wednesday evening I walked down through the very heart of the city. I walked through miles and miles of magnificent buildings and towering skyscrapers. Here was no fire. All was in perfect order. The police patrolled the streets. Every building had its watchman at the door. And yet it was doomed, all of it. There was no water. The dynamite was giving out. And at right angles two different conflagrations were sweeping down upon it.
At one o'clock in the morning I walked down through the same section Everything still stood intact. There was no fire. And yet there was a change. A rain of ashes was falling. The watchmen at the doors were gone. The police had been withdrawn. There were no firemen, no fire-engines, no men fighting with dynamite. The district had been absolutely abandoned. I stood at the corner of Kearney and Market, in the very innermost heart of San Francisco. Kearny Street was deserted. Half a dozen blocks away it was burning on both sides. The street was a wall of flame. And against this wall of flame, silhouetted sharply, were two United States cavalrymen sitting their horses, calming watching. That was all. Not another person was in sight. In the intact heart of the city two troopers sat their horses and watched.
Spread of the Conflagration
Surrender was complete. There was no water. The sewers had long since been pumped dry. There was no dynamite. Another fire had broken out further uptown, and now from three sides conflagrations were sweeping down. The fourth side had been burned earlier in the day. In that direction stood the tottering walls of the Examiner building, the burned-out Call building, the smoldering ruins of the Grand Hotel, and the gutted, devastated, dynamited Palace Hotel
The following will illustrate the sweep of the flames and the inability of men to calculate their spread. At eight o'clock Wednesday evening I passed through Union Square. It was packed with refugees. Thousands of them had gone to bed on the grass. Government tents had been set up, supper was being cooked, and the refugees were lining up for free meals
At half past one in the morning three sides of Union Square were in flames. The fourth side, where stood the great St. Francis Hotel was still holding out. An hour later, ignited from top and sides the St. Francis was flaming heavenward. Union Square, heaped high with mountains of trunks, was deserted. Troops, refugees, and all had retreated.
A Fortune for a Horse!
It was at Union Square that I saw a man offering a thousand dollars for a team of horses. He was in charge of a truck piled high with trunks from some hotel. It had been hauled here into what was considered safety, and the horses had been taken out. The flames were on three sides of the Square and there were no horses.
Also, at this time, standing beside the truck, I urged a man to seek safety in flight. He was all but hemmed in by several conflagrations. He was an old man and he Was on crutches. Said he: "Today is my birthday. Last night I was worth thirty thousand dollars. I bought five bottles of wine, some delicate fish and other things for my birthday dinner. I have had no dinner, and all I own are these crutches."
I convinced him of his danger and started him limping on his way. An hour later, from a distance, I saw the truck-load of trunks burning merrily in the middle of the street.
On Thursday morning at a quarter past five, just twenty-four hours after the earthquake, I sat on the steps of a small residence on Nob Hill. With me sat Japanese, Italians, Chinese, and negroes--a bit of the cosmopolitan flotsam of the wreck of the city. All about were the palaces of the nabob pioneers of Forty-nine. To the east and south at right angles, were advancing two mighty walls of flame
I went inside with the owner of the house on the steps of which I sat. He was cool and cheerful and hospitable. "Yesterday morning," he said, "I was worth six hundred thousand dollars. This morning this house is all I have left. It will go in fifteen minutes. He pointed to a large cabinet. "That is my wife's collection of china. This rug upon which we stand is a present. It cost fifteen hundred dollars. Try that piano. Listen to its tone. There are few like it. There are no horses. The flames will be here in fifteen minutes.''
Outside the old Mark Hopkins residence a palace was just catching fire. The troops were falling back and driving the refugees before them. From every side came the roaring of flames, the crashing of walls, and the detonations of dynamite
The Dawn of the Second Day
I passed out of the house. Day was trying to dawn through the smoke-pall. A sickly light was creeping over the face of things. Once only the sun broke through the smoke-pall, blood-red, and showing quarter its usual size. The smoke-pall itself, viewed from beneath, was a rose color that pulsed and fluttered with lavender shades Then it turned to mauve and yellow and dun. There was no sun. And so dawned the second day on stricken San Francisco.
An hour later I was creeping past the shattered dome of the City Hall. Than it there was no better exhibit of the destructive force of the earthquake. Most of the stone had been shaken from the great dome, leaving standing the naked framework of steel. Market Street was piled high with the wreckage, and across the wreckage lay the overthrown pillars of the City Hall shattered into short crosswise sections.
This section of the city with the exception of the Mint and the Post-Office, was already a waste of smoking ruins. Here and there through the smoke, creeping warily under the shadows of tottering walls, emerged occasional men and women. It was like the meeting of the handful of survivors after the day of the end of the world.
Beeves Slaughtered and Roasted
On Mission Street lay a dozen steers, in a neat row stretching across the street just as they had been struck down by the flying ruins of the earthquake. The fire had passed through afterward and roasted them. The human dead had been carried away before the fire came. At another place on Mission Street I saw a milk wagon. A steel telegraph pole had smashed down sheer through the driver's seat and crushed the front wheels. The milk cans lay scattered around.
All day Thursday and all Thursday night, all day Friday and Friday night, the flames still raged on.
Friday night saw the flames finally conquered. through not until Russian Hill and Telegraph Hill had been swept and three-quarters of a mile of wharves and docks had been licked up.
The Last Stand
The great stand of the fire-fighters was made Thursday night on Van Ness Avenue. Had they failed here, the comparatively few remaining houses of the city would have been swept. Here were the magnificent residences of the second generation of San Francisco nabobs, and these, in a solid zone, were dynamited down across the path of the fire. Here and there the flames leaped the zone, but these fires were beaten out, principally by the use of wet blankets and rugs.
San Francisco, at the present time, is like the crater of a volcano, around which are camped tens of thousands of refugees At the Presidio alone are at least twenty thousand. All the surrounding cities and towns are jammed with the homeless ones, where they are being cared for by the relief committees. The refugees were carried free by the railroads to any point they wished to go, and it is estimated that over one hundred thousand people have left the peninsula on which San Francisco stood. The Government has the situation in hand, and, thanks to the immediate relief given by the whole United States, there is not the slightest possibility of a famine. The bankers and business men hare already set about making preparations to rebuild San Francisco.
Towards a Military Ethics at West Point: A Conversation With Colonel Anthony Hartle
Founded in 1802 by Thomas Jefferson, the United States Military Academy was originally an academy for training military and civil engineers based in part on the French model of the École Polytechnique. Though West Point's curriculum has always been heavily weighted toward engineering, mathematics, and the sciences, a lively debate has occurred throughout its history as to the proper role of the humanities in a military education. Colonel Hartle is Deputy Head of the Academy's Department of English which administers the Program in Art, Philosophy, and Literature. The author of numerous books and articles on military ethics, including Moral Issues in Military Decision Making, Col. Hartle is also responsible for instruction in philosophy and ethics to a group of cadets who will one day be in command at the highest levels of decision making in the US Army. Jay Worthington met with him at the Academy to discuss the evolution of ethics at West Point and in the US Armed Forces in general.
What is the formal academic training in ethics and moral philosophy that cadets receive here?
It's not that easy a question to answer, because I think what you're driving at is the ethical component of character development, and we view that as a much broader issue than what cadets receive in the classroom. The Academy has a mission, like every organization, and an important part of that mission is graduating commissioned leaders of character. That raises the question of what we mean by that term.
West Point has in fact published a definition: "A leader of character seeks to discover the truth, decide what is right, and demonstrate the courage and commitment to act accordingly." You talk about the warrior spirit. Has that definition evolved over the past few decades that you've been here?
I don't think that it's changed much at all. What has changed is our attempt to understand the process of character development and to enhance that process.
And what evolution has occurred there?
By introspection and heightened awareness of the interaction between personal experience and institutional structure. The watershed event during this period we're talking about was the 1976 cheating scandal here at West Point-it made national headlines, and a blue ribbon commission from outside the army came in to examine the overall curriculum and to make recommendations, one of which, somewhat euphemistically, was to increase the offerings in philosophy.
We didn't have any.
Interesting. So before 1976, there were no formal courses in philosophy here.
Right. So we established one, and all cadets are now required to take one course in philosophy. As you might expect, the content of that course focuses on ethics to a significant degree. The idea here is to move cadets from a place of knowing about institutional values and adhering to institutional standards to internalizing them, accepting them as their own, and then progressively moving them to the point where they influence others and their thinking.
If West Point's definition of character has remained stable throughout this period, how much have shifts in the moral world outside changed the Academy's sense of the kinds of procedures it needs to use to instill character in its students?
Quite a lot. During the 1950s and 1960s, during my experience at West Point, there was an assumption, not an altogether reliable assumption, but nevertheless an assumption founded with some confidence, that there was a certain common perspective on core values in the cadets entering the Academy. Of course, it wasn't altogether reliable, but certainly, it was a more reasonable assumption to make in 1960 than in 2000.
What's your short list of those values of 1960?
A commitment to the idea of honesty, an understanding that the world is structured and that most of the people with whom one is going to interact will have the same value perspectives that you do. Now, on the other hand, we certainly recognize that the people coming into the Academy are highly capable and intelligent, but they come from a widely diverse spectrum of backgrounds, with widely diverse attitudes, and we know that we need to do a better job of educating them about values, about responsibilities in an institutional setting, about the whole idea of commitment to an institution and a profession, than we would have thought was necessary 40 years ago.
Do you find that the students here still arrive with the expectation that they are entering a lifelong profession? Certainly, the expected career length of a young officer today is dramatically shorter than it was in 1960.
That's right, but I'm not sure that we surveyed student expectations in the 1950s and 1960s. We do now, though, and what we find is that the majority of cadets coming in are uncertain about their career commitment.
Does that create a reluctance to fully enter this morally differentiated military world?
I think it would be too strong to say that they're more skeptical, but there's certainly a tendency to examine carefully claims that the institution makes.
In ways that might not have occurred 40 years ago?
Without putting any negative spin on the word, would you say that incoming cadets have a more selfish attitude towards West Point than in the past, viewing it as an opportunity to get an education rather than as an entry into the more traditional military culture of duty, self-sacrifice, and the rest?
Certainly more self-centered, yes. And it's what you'd expect, over the last ten years.
Why, specifically, over the last ten years?
Many of us see this whole period of economic prosperity, the whole dot-com concept, as being accompanied by a focus on one's own interests, with less concern about society as a whole and about service to the community. So what do we do about that? We put more emphasis on values here than we have in the past.
How exclusive are these values? There seems to be some debate over whether the Army's core values program is expressed at such a level of moral generality that it simply describes characteristics that any society would like to see in its soldiers and officers, regardless of the morality of their actions.
I think that's probably true. It gets back to the idea of the role of the laws of war-when we talk about the expected behavior of the members of the military profession, we find that the boundaries are circumscribed by functional requirements, and these functional requirements are further circumscribed by the laws of war, the customary practices of warfare. I've argued that we also have another significant constraint, and that is the values of society. There are examples of behavior, permissible under the laws of war, which might be constrained by societal values. At the end of the Gulf War, attacks on retreating Iraqi forces, quite acceptable in terms of the laws of war, were terminated because of the adverse reaction of the news media and the American public.
How stable do you see these core values as having been over time?
That depends on your definition of core values. If you talk about core values like freedom, the rule of law, individual equality before the law, commitment to democratic institutions, they've been extremely stable.
You could argue that individualism, say, only started to appear in a form recognizable today with the reconstruction amendments after the Civil War. Prior to the Constitutional revolution in the 1860s and 1870s, it seems hard to argue that universal equality before the law was the sort of core value that you seem to see as foundational to the military's code of ethics. What happens to your idea of foundational, stable, social values if their constitutional and ethical underpinnings have been evolving over the course of the history of the US?
Well, the processes have always been with us, I would argue. If you think about the whole frontier concept and the rugged frontiersman- if that's not individualism, I don't know what is. And that's been with us from the beginning. We've always admired that spirit-you can characterize the revolutionary period as exemplifying precisely that ideal.
So you don't think there has been evolution in America's understanding of its core values, or even of the role of individualism, for example?
Well, the manifestations of those values certainly have taken different forms. When we look at the pre- and post-Civil War periods, things look a lot different.
You could also look at the 1930s-accelerating in the 1960s-and see concern with the right of citizens to certain procedural limitations on the power of the state to act upon them. If you go back to the turn of the turn of the [19th] century and before, you don't see that as such a pressing concern.
Is that an example of a value that's evolving over time?
We almost seem to be overwhelmed with the idea of due-process and individual rights today, don't we?
We could argue about whether that's a good or a bad thing in American society, but it does seem like at least the form of the relationship between individuals and the state has evolved pretty significantly over the past century or so.
One might argue, though, that that's a different manifestation in our society of a continuing commitment to the rule of law. It certainly looks a lot different now, but it may be the same core value that's been there all along. Does that help any? Maybe not. It may be that looking at core values that way makes them so plastic that they don't give us much lift.
What is the military's reaction as custom and formal law diverge? One of the obvious examples would be the laws of air warfare, and the bans on bombing of civilian targets, the attempt to maintain a bright line between military and national infrastructure. These days, national infrastructure often appears to be a primary target of the US military.
There's some sense in which people say that this is an evolution of traditional concepts. Others, including some here, say that we need to redefine the military profession, and that we need to consider that kind of question in order to understand what the limitations on the military should be.
Certainly, much of the just war tradition appears to hang on a set of categorical distinctions, between the civilian and military, combatants and non-combatants, say, which look increasingly hard to defend. How does that apply when you're bombing the electrical infrastructure of Serbia? Is the just war tradition still the foundation of the ethical training here?
Discussion of the just war tradition and the codified laws of war are certainly included in our course, but I wouldn't say that we use that as our moral foundation-we turn to ethical theory and core social values for the moral foundation of what we teach cadets.
What would you say is your moral foundation here?
We're trying to generate a conception of professional military ethics. Just war theory doesn't necessarily play that big a role for us. It's important to understand it, to understand the relationship between this tradition and the laws of war as they exist today, and it's really important to look at the justifications for the just war tradition, which evolved from the religious context into a secular context, and we can construe that in terms of human-rights theory. But it's not foundational in the sense you suggest.
Let's get back to my original question, which was-how necessary is it to the military that core social values actually be stable?
Well, we're tied to the core values of society. If those are variable to an extent that they undercut the military's core ethics, then we have a cognitive dissonance when it comes to our value commitments.
And if this outer, societally limiting moral boundary is in flux, what implications does that have for the military's sense of itself as a morally coherent institution?
Well, I don't think that's the case. Having said that, if the laws of wars and functional constraints of the military profession are fixed, and this social limit changes, then the institution has to react in ways that hierarchical, bureaucratic institutions have a lot of trouble with.
How important to the army is the differentiation between the military and the civilian worlds?
To the extent that these values and the behavior that follows from the values are critical to the functional activity.
So you would argue that these are military values to the extent that they are functional requirements of military activity, and that if civilian morality identically incorporated this same set of values, there would be no need to find some additional differentiation in order to set the military apart in some way. So that there's nothing necessary to the differentiating aspects of military morality; it just happens to be that way?
I'm not sure I'd go quite that far, though it is the case that commitment to a military career includes commitment to what General Sir John Hackett describes as the ultimate liability. Committed soldiers commit themselves to putting their lives at risk as part of fulfilling their function in serving society. That commitment sets the military apart.
When did the core values program start?
In the mid-1980s. About that time we came up with the four C's-courage, candor, competence, commitment, the so-called soldierly values-which was the idea of a four-star general, and we had the ideas of General Meyer, another four-star general, who supported a set of professional values: loyalty, responsibility, and selfless service. We combined the two sets in initiating a values approach, which is embodied in the Army's LDRSHIP program [Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless service, Honor, Integrity, Personal courage]. That was in the era when we were trying to reconstruct the profession.
Where does the Army's fascination with moral acronyms come from?
You'd find it in every military organization in the world, I think.
Still, I wonder about the origins of the impulse to come up with LDRSHIP or the five Cs. Is there something at odds with setting up a moral code but making it appear that the underlying principles might be contingent upon how comfortably they fit into an acronym?
Actually, LDRSHIP was an afterthought. The sergeant major of the army came up with that. That was enough to force the re-labeling of courage as personal courage so it would fit into this easily remembered label.
But wisdom and truth-telling ended up being dropped because they didn't fit the acronym.
That's not my understanding. Actually, the guy who did the original drafting was committed to an Aristotelian model, and he wanted to provide enough intellectual substance so that the manual would be different from what we had provided in the past. He did include wisdom, but in the process of staffing this over the course of two years it was winnowed out as not the most effective way to present values to the members of the US army. The Army leadership may have concluded that influencing behavior is a sufficiently challenging goal. In implementing the values program, we tend to focus on what soldiers who adhere to the Army values do.
To what extent does this concern for professional values require West Point to help cadets establish themselves as autonomous moral individuals? You've written about the obligation of officers to remain independent moral evaluators of decisions both up and down the chain of command, about the obligation to resign in protest, if necessary, and to express themselves about moral issues throughout their careers.
There's a psychologist named Keegan who has done a study of people in the professions-not the military, specifically, but the professions generally. One research group here at the Academy now is pursuing his work. We talk about people who are at a stage II development, which is roughly people who are at the point of asking what they can do for themselves within the limits of their professional activities. At stage III development, one commits him or herself to achieving the purpose of the professional activity, which sometimes requires subordinating one's own interests, and then there's a stage IV, in which professionals make autonomous choices within a framework of understanding the profession's purpose and how it achieves its ends. Now there have been some surveys, and they show-and this is all very loose-that cadets are in the process of moving from stage II to stage III, and that if we look at junior officers, people up to the rank of major, attending the command general staff college out of Leavenworth, people are still in the process of moving from stage II to stage III, though there are larger numbers at stage III.
At what levels do you start seeing what you call stage IV awareness become the dominant professional norm?
The research is going on now, and I'm not sure what they'll come up with, but that's one way to answer your question about autonomy. Yes, we're going to give them the foundation for that. No, we don't want to graduate programmed, robotic soldiers. Now, how to do that is a real challenge.
In West Point's terms, what's involved in establishing leaders as seekers after truth?
There's a fine line between the Aristotelian approach and the Kantian approach. It's a combination of education and training. We want people who understand institutional values, of West Point and the army, and we want people who are competent. We also want people who have the ability to react to unexpected situations.
Morally and culturally unexpected situations?
Both. Because that's what we have young people doing right now, in Bosnia and Kosovo, and other places where we have peacekeeping operations and multi-national operations. Being mentally inflexible or dogmatic simply isn't adequate, so we want people who have open minds. So I think that's what we mean when we talk about the pursuit of truth.
How much does the increasing importance of missions other than war, such as peacekeeping, affect the cadets' sense of their role in society? If the clearest ethical justification for a military is that it's manning the ramparts, how do these new kinds of missions affect the military's sense of its ethical place in society?
This year is the first year that we've implemented an effort to educate the cadets about their professional identity. That's a shift in our program, education about professional identity. As part of that, the idea of the military officer as a servant of society is a central piece. That's different from the warrior ethic that you've seen in our literature. That's different from being trained to fight and win the nation's wars as an essential element of professional competence, because it says that the military is to do what society requires. That may be peacekeeping missions; it may be domestic disaster relief missions; it may mean fighting wars.
What is the cadets' view of the value of those kinds of missions, and of the social value they imply for the military profession?
There's an institutional bias against some of these things, that somehow they detract from our core mission of winning wars. That's not just here at West Point, that's received from current faculty members, from outside the institution; it's profession-wide. It's a change that I think will occur on a somewhat bumpy road over the next decade or so. But it is a change we're aware of as being significant, and it makes a big difference in the professional identity of people here.
You now have a generation of cadets entering who were children when the coverage of events like the sieges of Srebenica and Sarajevo were being broadcast on national news. They were at a formative age when these humanitarian missions became perceived as pressing. Are they more open to them than older officers?
Yes. This is a discussion that captains have with colonels periodically here at West Point. Colonels say that we really have to work at changing people's attitudes and the captains say, "Sir, they've changed. We already see that. That is the way we look at the world." And the senior people say, "No, it isn't."
Are the cadets also more open to civilian intrusions into what is perceived as the traditional technical expertise of the military? The land mines debate, in which tremendous political pressure has been placed upon the US military to accept a ban on the use of land mines, would be a good example, where the military seemed to perceive it as an unwarranted civilian intrusion, on moral and ethical grounds, into an area which should more properly be reserved to the expert judgment of the army.
One way to look at that is that it's simply a piece, an important piece, of what I talked about before, about the concept of oneself as a servant of society, in that we're talking about changing jurisdictions, and how the boundaries of jurisdiction evolve and move over time. If the way to fight a war is exclusively the jurisdiction of the military, then it's an incursion. If that jurisdiction is shared to some extent with NGOs, with civilian perspectives, then it's not an intrusion; it's an area that is of concern to more than just the military.
Hasn't military conduct always been subject to larger social pressures and moral forces?
The perception was that the attitude of military commanders was, "The civilians tell us when to go fight and who to fight, and we'll decide how."
That seemed to be how the land mines debate played out. At least some senior voices in the military seemed to be deeply skeptical of whether it was proper for civilians authorities to interfere.
And this generation of cadets is now entering from a civilian world that has become willing to make those sorts of intrusions.
Insistent on making those kinds of intrusions might be a better characterization.
That's fair. Is it changing the cadets' perceptions of the proper relationship between civilian and military society?
I think so, yes. Achieving the same level of commitment to principle with these shifting attitudes is a matter we sort through on a regular basis here. How do we best provide the army and the country with officers with the education, the background, and the perspectives that best suit them to do what the nation will require them to do?
And if that doesn't involve fighting conventional threats to the nation's security, then so be it?
Well, the Chinese are coming, but they haven't arrived yet [laughs].
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A Metaphor on Pain and Suffering
Once upon a time there was a youth who dreamed dreams of adventure and goodness. He came from average people who worked hard and made sacrifices for their families. They came from people who were farmers, who were primarily hill people, who had a strong belief in what was fair and just and a stubborn propensity for standing up for those beliefs. They had always made sacrifices, whether it be for their families or the country in which they lived.
The youth was a sensitive and perceptive son, who loved to sit and watch the hawks soaring in the sky, smell the fresh cut hay and listen to the hounds running on cold nights.
One day, as was his habit, he stopped on the way to school to sit on the roots of a large Oak tree and watch and listen. Down the road came two men. One reflected the light of the sun like a knight errant. The other, who seemed to be almost in rags had a dark, moody and sad affect. Both strode with the air of purpose and had a sense of adventure about them, although the dark one was scarred and walked with a limp.
They stopped before the youth, who was immediately awed by the bright and shining one who began to tell him stories of great adventure, sacrifice and honor. On and on he talked and the youth became a part of the stories and when the stranger left, he was full of wonderment and could not wait to make his life like this bright and shining stranger. There was a slight hint of a shadow regarding the dark and silent one but this was quickly pushed aside by the memory of indestructibility of the bright one.
The youth grew into a young man still dreaming of challenges and adventure. When war came to his country he quickly went to become a soldier, ready to fulfill his destiny.
On the field of war he saw courage and sacrifice but also cruelty and callousness, sometimes present in the same individual. Remembering the feeling of confidence and control of the bright and shining stranger of his youth he strove to maintain this feeling for himself. And when he was struck down on that chaotic field, in his terror and agony, he changed forever. Then began an ordeal of struggling against the pain of so much lost. The pain and suffering within the body of the youth became a tyrant. He returned to the country of his youth and all was changed. Even the old Oak tree was gone. But the one of dark visage was still there, his scars and appearance too
foreboding to even acknowledge.
The youth frantically searched and sought for the bright one and the return of his dreams but he searched in vain.
In pain and confusion he walked the roads of his youth and one day he came upon the dark one who blocked his path. He rushed forward and a violent struggle began between them. From all around others came to intercede and help but the two struggled on and on until finally the youth, fatigued by his pain, fell down.
The other stood over him and the youth recognized something very familiar about him. The dark one, who seemed to now reflect the light of the sun, said, "I came to you as a youth and spoke with you, but you only heard what you could hear. You now have the mark of pain and suffering of your experience and you must tell others for they too must face what is really real. They may not hear you but you must convince them to listen differently."
The metaphor reflects a common theme in our culture; the heroic archetype that represents a value system based on what is perceived as "right" and doing what is "right." When the "what is right" is violated and the body and soul is traumatized the person reacts with fear and rage and the body and soul suffers a deep sense of loss of control. The youth experiences this loss of control, not only because of his trauma but also because of what he thought was right now seems like an illusion. The cement that bonded him to his culture and its sense of order crumbles into nothingness. He frantically tries to recapture it as it was but eventually is confronted with the reality that he can not. The dark one reminds him and issues a call to him regarding his responsibility to his humanness to share his story because all will sooner or later face this crisis.
The personal narrative is extremely important to the victim of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the finding of one's voice and articulating their story. Even if in the beginning the story is chaotic, the validation allows for the rebuilding of the illusions of control and that in a real deep sense they are not illusions at all.