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Opening Arguments

Let's dialogue in a safe space

They're going to have a "community conversation' in Evansville beween veterans and civilians about their "varying relationships with combat" and their "loss of loved ones" or struggles "to support a veteran who has returned." The sessions will be "facilitated" by someone "trained in dialogue," which gives the exercise a strange 1970s encounter-group feel:

One goal is to create a safe space and process in which civilians and veterans can talk to one another in an atmosphere of trust. The issues are of utmost importance to the reintegration of veterans, according to the groups' statement.

Touch-feely-icky. I went to a few of those encounter groups back in the "I'm OK, You're OK" days when a lot of people actually believed you could find some kind of self-actualizing bliss by baring the darkest fears of your soul to complete strangers you'd just met and would never see again. After a while, the posturing and phony confessions got to be too tiresome to bear. I'd been overseas and back by then, and if I remember correctly, some of the sessions acually touched on the veterans' experience. I didn't get all that much out of it -- the kindness of strangers isn't all it's cracked up to be, and I never went through much of that "baby killer" approbation so widely reported anyway. And I had plenty of friends and relatives who were glad to see me back, which more than made up for the occasional sniffs of disapproval sent the veterans' way.

My feeling about all that "safe space and process" stuff is that the people who go for it are the people who believe in its potential so don't really need it, and the people who might actually benefit from it wouldn't get within 100 miles of it.

Posted in: Hoosier lore


Lewis Allen
Fri, 02/26/2010 - 8:10pm

Wow. You said it all, and nailed it.