Something they never tell you about past life memories is how they can change you.
Before I had that catastrophic memory of waiting for the whizz-bang that probably killed me, I was a very different sort of person.
I owned a gun and didn’t think much of using it in a self-defense capacity. In fact I had a bit of a mean streak and kind of hoped I would have to use it so I could get a reputation as someone you didn’t mess with.
I didn’t really give much mind to war even though I was theoretically against the ones currently going on. As far as the exact emotional and physical toll that nearly wiped parts of France and Belgium off the map, it didn’t really register. The war was something that happened a long time ago, that only existed in highly-idealized Hollywood productions or grainy photos in dusty albums. The last veterans of that war have all died off and so, I assumed, had the memory of what really happened.
Just a taste of what those soldiers went through was like a sharp kick in the groin. I don’t think I fully recovered from the initial shock of the few brief slivers I saw, or of finding a grave that is very likely my own.
I no longer own a gun, nor do I want anything to do with them. I’m going to stay out of gun politics but on a personal level, my disgust with guns has never been higher.
I also find I don’t get angry at people nearly as often, and I find that the idea of killing someone for any reason suddenly has its shock once again. I don’t want to make people suffer or even see them suffer any more. That was part of a life I had lived recklessly without regard to the other person involved, and I’m very sorry I ever allowed myself to think that way.
I used to be a lot more involved in fringe political activism. Not so very long ago I was getting deep into Occupy and the Cascadia Independence movement, fully expecting things to boil over into a full-blown revolution within a decade. While I still think independence for this region would be a good thing over all, I’ve dropped out of the activist culture completely. I don’t want to waste another life on a war that might do more harm than good; if I joined the British Army in the name of “King and Country” in a previous life, but I had no way of knowing the hell that would follow in the next century. What we started in France in 1914 never really ended; the entire 20th century and the first decades of the 21st have been a constant swing between extreme ideologies and the destabilization of nearly every nation on earth.
I’m returning to my own advice I gave myself years ago: nations rise and fall, but love is the true measure of all things.
Love one another. And for everyone’s sake, never forget what we lost between 1914 and 1918. I certainly won’t.