Chris Hedges: War is a drug

Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize winning author and minister (Second Presbyterian Church, Elizabeth, New Jersey)

Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize winning author and minister (Second Presbyterian Church, Elizabeth, New Jersey)


As a correspondent for The New York Times - and other publications - activist and ordained Presbyterian Minister Christopher Hedges has covered wars all over the world. In 2002, he shared a Pulitzer Prize for his work on global terrorism. The author of 14 books, he's no stranger to controversy, having once been escorted off stage while delivering a commencement address. In the fall of 2014, Christopher Hedges gave a lecture at Ryerson University in Toronto, and later joined Paul Kennedy in conversation.

It's always hard. You see hallucinogenic landscapes that you could not imagine, what large shells -- for instance, when I was in Sarajevo -- will do to human bodies. It will sever them in half and they're still alive. You never sleep. The trauma is so intense because not only are you around violent death, but over the years many of those I have worked with, including my closest friends, were killed. It so upends the moral and physical universe that when you step outside the war zone you just cannot relate, you cannot function. Soldiers call it a combat high. I did it for 20 years and what happens when you cannot extract yourself from it is early death, whether that is through drinking, substance abuse, or a heart attack.

Chris Hedges

Pulitzer Prize winner Christopher Hedges spent decades as a war correspondent before the suffering he witnessed became too much to bear.

Now he is minister of social witness and prison ministry at the Second Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey, a popular public speaker, an author and  freelance columnist who does not shy away from controversy.

The presentation Chris Hedges gave at Ryerson University is titled War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.

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