Suffer the Slings and Arrows?

My friend Adam Grey has written an article for Faith and Heritage, outlining a devastating rise of suicide among lower middle class whites. Whether it be an outright death or a slow death through drugs and alcohol, the epidemic (according to the source he cites) is comparable to the AIDS epidemic of a few decades ago. The death rate is so significant, it has skewed the entire data set of white deaths.

Maybe I was unwise to do it, but I’ve written freely about my struggle with suicidal thoughts here at Shotgun Barrel Straight. Unwise because, at least in my experience, it encourages a lack of respect, demeaning and condescending attitudes, and general nastiness from people who ought to know better. And for my part, I think I’ve finally gotten to the bottom of the issue – at least, for the time being. My insights here might shed light on the wider issue among whites:

You see, early on, a group of my high school friends and I debated which of the military special forces were the best. We each chose a different branch – one friend thought Marine Recon was tops while another was intent on becoming a Green Beret. I argued that Navy SEALs were the best; they seemed to offer a sophisticated finesse the others lacked. They weren’t grunts. They were intelligent and…well, I really shouldn’t have to explain to *this* audience why a young man would find them attractive. I grew up around the water anyway and loved the romance of it.

Long story short, we joined our respective services. None of us made it to special forces of course but out of the four of us, I came the closest. I had this vision of myself and the vision only grew the closer I came to my goal. At one point, I was at the top of my game: I was in the best shape of my life, I was great at my job (as a Naval photographer), I knew all about the CIA’s war in Afghanistan and was ready to do my part. I was just getting into Christian apologetics as well and was kicking butt and taking names in that area. Also, I met this girl – a beautiful, blonde, cheer-leader type who loved Rush Limbaugh and was passionate about Christianity and conservative politics. I wasn’t just in love with her, I was in love with this entire vision of who I was, my place in the world, and the wonderful life I was going to have.

But, well…I didn’t make it as a SEAL; and the girl, she married someone else. Also, due to my study in apologetics and a theological shift into Calvinism, I became guilty about my service to Molech and couldn’t continue my enlistment with a good conscience. My entire identity and sense of self collapsed. That vision – the one that sustained me my entire life to that point – was gone. Depression soon crept in and no matter what I did, it got worse and worse.

My life since leaving the military has been one long striving to fill that emptiness with new purpose but every new vision I’d erect for myself would collapse just as the first one had. None have been as sweet; none have managed to equal that first vision; and none have lasted near as long.

It’s that lack of vision that leads to suicidal thoughts. And believe me, drugging oneself, be it through prescription or by abuse of other types of substances, is simply not the answer. Suicidal people – at least, those in my situation – can’t be cured with a doctor’s note. Curing depression is easy, as far as that goes. A few aminos here, a St. John’s Wart there, and you’re done. But those things never fill the gaping hole in the chest that lead to the suicidal depression in the first place. There’s no pill that can cure a lack of vision.

I was thinking about this again after reading Adam’s article and I remembered a verse in Romans:

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?

No matter how many times I begged God to give me a new, lasting, vision for my life, He’s ignored me.

Maybe this is why?

Restore vision to the white working classes – give them their damned dignity – and the high rate of suicides will quickly drop. I’m convinced of that. But how can we have hope in a vision we can’t see?

Other people might be able to do it, but I can’t and that’s probably why I’m having a hard time with the Christian faith.

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4 Responses to Suffer the Slings and Arrows?

  1. I get the downcast from time to time, I think a huge part of it has all to do with a lack of community and fellowship among like minded believers. I attend a church regularly but I think if I were to figure a way to move so I could be more connected with other believers and not so disconnected being in the city and only limited to weekly visits on Sunday (as they are in the country) I would be way better off. Before I found out about the small PCA church I’m attending regularly at now ( a more southern and conservative PCA church if that seems possible), I was attending at a Baptist church that was so esoteric, I’m not sure if any of them were known by the Lord. As I think about it, the healthiest mindset I’ve ever experienced was during times when I was connected with fellow believers that had lived in the same area but eventually moved on.

    The Scripture speaks of spiritual nourishment and one of the means is being knit together with one another, Christ body the church. Col 2:19

    I always remember (when appears to be no hope) the two types of sorrow mentioned in Scripture; Godly sorrow, that works repentance to salvation as well as to purify the saints through hardships. And then the sorrow of the world that brings death. I had a first cousin that committed suicide last year, I tried to share some truths about Christ with him long before, in fact right after his first suicide attempt but only to get interrupted by him saying how much he knows all about faith. I’m sure the faith he knew about probably had some elements of Christian faith but nothing to do with context or ultimately how to be in union with Christ. Hopefully at least one of the family members is shaken by the tragedy, you can never tell sometimes if there is.

  2. Adam Grey says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic, Shotgun. You know better than most just how hard it can be to crack the nut that is hopelessness. There’s no easy answer for the individual. Hope in Christ is the answer, but it is not an easy answer and typically is not a quick fix.

  3. Fr. John+ says:

    Thank you for being so clear in delineating your concerns. You know I have always liked your writing, but your are enduring what St. John of the Cross (RC Carmelite of Spain) calls ‘the dark night of the soul.’ To be blunt, it sucks… but one has to go through it, and not around it, or under it, or over it, as the old Gospel song goes….

    May I offer some observations?

    Your image of yourself when in the Navy, (which you chronicled above) and as a potential Seal, was an IDOL of your own making. One of the most carefully constructed, and wholly devoted descriptions of an Idol of Self, that I have read in some time. But Idols are counterfeits- both to the man who worships them, as well as to God (who alone must- not should, but MUST) be worshipped. NO WONDER you’re down in the dumps. Not only have you been deluded personally, (False worship) but you are still wanting (even in your Angst) to deny that you are wanting to worship the Idol of Self! (Worship of the Ego, as it were)

    Personally, I have had three bouts with suicidal depression in my life. Thank God, they were short, easily identified, and subsequently avoided. The one time that I could have been ‘justified’ (oh, the irony of that word in this sentence!) in being suicidal, (but was not) was when my mother died; and I was away from home, and could not rely on my friends, my father, or my family – I had to ‘travel that road all by myself.’ Yet, as Francis Thompson’s poem, ‘The Hound of Heaven’ noted, I could not escape him. Talk about predestinating love!

    https://www.wwnorton.com/college/english/nael/noa/pdf/27636_Vict_U22_Thompson.pdf

    MONTHS of tunnel-like depression (in which I don’t even now, a quarter-century on, remember or recall much that went on) lasted after than death. Yet, all during this time, the verse from Job [ ‘Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…”- Job 13:15] and the verse from the BCP ‘In the midst of life we are in death’ kept coming back to me, like a mantra. I only knew that I MUST continue on, that nothing mattered but that I submit my will to God, and that I NOT contemplate an action (suicide) that only God alone has the right to do to me. And, at the end of that period of mourning, light AND life came to me. My wife and I were married soon after, and I realized that (for me) I had to ‘leave and cleave’ in a manner that only God’s mercy could give me, by taking my Mother to be with Him.

    What I am trying to say, is that God chastens those he loves most- which, until you experience it, you cannot understand how much love is administered via the chastening. I tried to comment some months ago, but could not sign on to do so (having forgotten my password) that what might be of benefit to you, would be some time in a monastery- yes, a CATHOLIC or ORTHODOX monastery… to merely just ‘submit’ to God, and wait for HIM, to tell you what His plans are.

    Pax et Lux.
    John+
    unworthy priest

  4. Joe Putnam says:

    Hey Shotgun,
    This is Joe Putnam here. I wanted to say hello and offer some encouragement.
    From your posts over the last couple of months, I knew that you were having some struggles with life and faith. I am saddened that you were having suicidal thoughts. I hope they are not serious ones.
    In your post Suffer the Slings and Arrows you talked about a “gaping hole” in our lives, caused by our (and society’s) collective lack of vision. You are on to something there.
    There is indeed something wrong with America –politically, economically, racially, and spiritually. I hold that at its core, it is all spiritual. Further, if spiritual problems are resolved, the rest can be managed. Not only is the political situation hopeless, this side of a collapse and total reset, the church is apostate.
    Modern Christianity sold us all a weak, long haired hippy Jesus. They told us that God was (absolutely nothing) but love, and that if we got saved, everything would be peaches and cream afterwards. Forget Jesus being a man or sorrows, Paul’s thorn in the flesh, the martyrdom of many early Christians by the Jews and then Rome, or the millennia long history of persecution of dissenters by the Roman Catholic church. They impress upon you that you must always be happy, or at least bubbly happy on the outside; to not do so is to not be rejoicing in and praising Christ for the sinners to see (and thus bad for recruitment/conversion). Even funerals become an evangelical outreach, involving the deceased’s family in the show. I have saw a woman put on a smile, and give a speech and brief song at the funeral of her 5 year old son who had just died from leukemia. Not joking.
    I too was not always Calvinist. I was raised in IFB type churches, in a geographical area given over to full out Arminians. These churches never even questioned if industrialization was progress –or maybe sin and rebellion against God’s benevolent dominion mandate. The thought that man should live an agrarian life, surrounded by family and like-minded believers, without striving for mammon or celebrity –was never even mentioned. Michael Bunker’s writings, especially Surviving Off Off-Grid and Modern Religious Idols have helped me build a coherent –and more peaceful- worldview. (Bunker is a Texan, mild Kinist, and admirer of the antebellum South).
    You wrote of “every new vision” you built in your post-Imperial Navy time as collapsing. God might be trying to tell you something. My dreams have not quite worked out either. Had your SEAL dream worked out, you would be killing on behalf of the (((American Empire))), and been very far from God (and agrarianism and a Godly restoration of the South). Five years ago, I dreamed of being an author to set the American patriot movement on fire! That did not work out. Between learning of the T.U.L.I.P., reading Bunker, and having my racial awakening –I now see that success as a patriot figure would have ruined me –leaving me mired in civic nationalism and the industrial system -far from what God had ordained for this corrupt society. I now primarily focus my writing on race/culture, survival, and political theory (for a post-collapse rebuild). At this point in my awakening, I (for theological, philosophical, ancestral, and geographical reasons) am now interested in reviving Godly, Southern, agrarian culture –not reviving the American Frankenstein.
    Though I am 34, I have not been married. I would like to have a wife someday, but am not making it a huge priority as I am not yet able to support her –and am not yet self-reliant on the land as I wish to be. It may be that God has not yet given us wives because we are not yet in the place we need to be to not mess it up? That being said, raising children in this corrupt system is not the answer -there must be an individual exit form the system or the children will be corrupted by it.
    I hope this will give you some encouragement, and some food for thought if you check out Bunker’s non-fiction writing. Don’t give up on the faith! There is a future for single white guys like us, just maybe not what we dreamed up for ourselves.
    Joe

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