Finding Your Wolf Pack
I am in New York and yesterday was 11th November and Veterans Day. I stood outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue and watched thousands in the Veterans’ Parade march past.
I come from a family where Remembrance/Veterans Day was not honoured. Both my father and paternal grandfather were conscientious objectors and I grew up in a household where war was seen as always unjustified and wrong.
So I watched the Parade yesterday morning with ambivalent feelings, my inherited values warring with what I now know about conflict and integrity. There are fights that are ours and fights that are not. The ones that are not ours we let go of, even if it costs us our ego and pride. But if the fight is one we have to face, then we find the courage and passion, however scared we are, to go in there. This is about our integrity and to run from these fights brings a worse death.
I have just watched Spielberg’s ‘Band of Brothers’. I missed it when it originally aired in 2001 as I didn’t have the stomach to watch hours of horrific warfare. I now see that as a choice not given to those men who fought and last week I immersed myself in watching this 11-hour drama. The series focuses on the experience of ‘Easy Company’, part of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airbourne Division, following them from their first combat on D-Day in June 1944 through to the end of the war in August 1945. It is brutal and brilliant, intelligent filmmaking at its best and it has left a powerful imprint. The ninth episode, ‘Why We Fight’ in which Easy Company unwittingly discovers and liberates a concentration camp says it all.
I have been thinking since then about the special bond that created this ‘band of brothers’ and how they never found it subsequently in their post war life. As I watched the veterans on 5th Avenue today I was troubled that so many only experience this special camaraderie in the context of violent conflict. That passion, courage and heroic deeds are only perceived as possible and necessary when there is an external enemy to conquer.
I have my own band of brothers and sisters, what I call my ‘wolf pack’ and it is true that we found each other in a time of adversity. We all started off alone, forced out of our comfort zone and into a time of great change, externally and internally. In the face of our fears, we are courageous, bold and passionate, choosing to take the tough, unknown path of integrity over the quick-fix easy path of expediency. And in this striving to lead authentic lives we found each other. It wasn’t a conscious search but rather the commonality of what we were all experiencing that drew us to each other. Life happens. It is at times brutal, at other times joyous. Either way we need to find our wolf pack.