Moral Injury and Non-Profit Services

This is probably the most succinct definition of moral injury that actually resonates with me.

 It is an injury to our sense of self as a moral being.

More importantly, it is different than the mechanistic, formulaic recitation of moral injury that sounds like people repeating a catechism most found in articles on moral injury.

A deep wound to our conscience or moral code, resulting from committing, failing to prevent, or witnessing acts that go against our beliefs, values or code of ethics.

I resist these mechanistic definitions because they fail to capture the whole, horrific nature of war. They are also self-serving on the part of the Veterans Administration as they conveniently bracket the conversation of the morality of war, period. Instead, the assumption is that war is ok, only there are ‘icky parts’ that might cause some folks who participate to get squeamish.

Moral injury in combat veterans is much more nuanced. Deep down, many veterans suffer from moral injury because they cannot reconcile their participation in wars of aggression with their conscience. It is one thing to kill a foreign invader who’s trying to rape your sister vs. being an occupier in a foreign land shooting people because they don’t obey a curfew.

All that said, the author of this article is spot on: turning away folks in need is morally injurious.

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