How many times have we heard the words, “it’s not fair”? I remember saying those very words one time and being told, “life isn’t fair”. Life isn’t fair, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot treat people fairly including ourselves. What I love about, “Is it fair to all concerned?”, is that it requires that everyone in a relationship be treated fairly including ourselves. Fairness means that we treat everyone with justice, equality, impartiality, in other words everyone is treated equally and given a fair shake. Including ourselves.
In my recovering from PTSD I sometimes find myself going the, “extra mile.” I do it because I sometimes think I need to make amends for my past actions. But, I find it leaves me feeling more like a martyr than anything. And not a martyr in the good sense i.e. sacrificing myself in a noble work. No, I feel like the stereotypical self-serving martyr. You know the kind, that person who is always lauding their sacrifice. Who is always jumping on the preverbal hand grenade. That type of martyrdom, if I don’t catch it in time, often leads me to more depression and anger and frustration the last thing the world I want or need.
Fair To All Concerned
When I came upon the Rotary Fourway test it hit me, “Is it fair to all concerned?” means even me. I have to be fair to myself in the way I think and in the way I act towards myself. As much as I am fair to everyone else I must also be fair to me. Part of my problem was and continues to be that I am riddled by guilt because of my actions while suffering PTSD. Because remembering things that I did, and didn’t do in Vietnam, there is ever-present survivor’s guilt.
“Being fair to all concerned,” made me realize I needed to start being fair to myself. Somehow it reminded me of the serenity prayer often cited by those who suffer addiction. It’s a prayer that I learned to say many times as I started my recovering from PTSD:
God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change…
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference.
“The courage to accept the things I cannot change” part of my problem is that I keep dwelling on the past. I think we’ve all had those questions, haven’t we? “Could I have done more?” “Did I do the right thing?” “Why am I alive and_______ isn’t?” On and on the questions go, but as my therapist said, “I cannot change the past I can only change the future.” Being fair to myself forced me to “accept the things that I cannot change”. Leaving those things in the past, where they should be left. At least as far as how they affect my emotions and my negative feelings. There are important lessons to learn from past experiences and behavior. But the past should not be an excuse for our current actions. “Courage to change the things we can,” that is our future we can change our future. I did, I changed paths. I was headed in the wrong direction and by the grace of God I was able to change that direction from a very negative one to a very positive one. It was and is a lot of hard work for me it started with the truth and it continues with being fair to all concerned, in my thoughts, relationships and actions.
Sgt. Allen Lynch
Allen Lynch is a former United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Vietnam War.