Stuck together

Shauna Smith is a Sacramento author, family therapist in private practice and a coordinator of Therapists for Social Responsibility.

Zoe, age 3, begins: “Look Gramma—we’re stuck together—we’re attached.” Zoe holds tighter to my arm and snuggles in.

“How stuck are we?” I ask.

“Like paper and glue,” Zoe says.

We sing it. “We’re stuck together like paper to glue / Like a me to a you / Like honey to Pooh / Like the sky is to blue.” I screen out the rest of the world and pretend that in a parallel time zone, someone else’s grandchildren are not homeless, sick or starving. I never thought I would understand how so many German people could be caring at home while atrocities were committed in their name.

The Iraq occupation is in its fifth year. The death count continues to rise, both military and civilian, and the drumbeat goes on for more profit-making wars. Thousands of our soldiers are returning home maimed, brain-damaged, their minds blown out by multiple traumatic events. Increasing numbers are committing suicide and murder.

The latest news is that the Pentagon and the pharmaceutical companies have teamed up to consider giving the psychiatric drug propranolol to our soldiers before they go into battle to numb them to the effects of the brutality of war. A chemical method to help our soldiers bypass their normal feelings of empathy and guilt? Why don’t they end the war and bring our soldiers home instead?

My granddaughter and I sing about love and connection while the Pentagon and pharma conjure up ways to cut the cord, to immunize our soldiers from empathy—the essence of connection.

We try to ignore the hard things that only distantly affect us, but we can’t. For each of us, every day is a challenge in which we must navigate the delicate balance between living quietly and making our voices heard, ride the fine line between our need to protect ourselves and our integrity and do our best to make sure both are remembered.

And we sing on: “We’re stuck together / Like our lashes to our eye / Like the stars to the sky … ”

Like all of us to all of us, I think. We’re stuck together in our human condition, morally bound to remember that connection and take action toward peace and justice, so that more families can sing caring, made-up songs together.