Psychotherapist, Author, and War Veteran Dr. John L. Hart Says Sainsbury’s Ad Offers Excellent Advice For Holiday Combat Fatigue; Public Outrage Misplaced

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Dr. John L. Hart—a renowned psychotherapist, author of the novel There Will Be Killing, and Vietnam War veteran—weighs in on the controversy surrounding a commercial gone viral and the powerful health benefits of truces.

John L. Hart, Ph.D. author of There Will Be Killing

John L. Hart, Ph.D. author of There Will Be Killing

For me, a Veteran of one of these endless wars, the idea of meeting your 'enemy' on the battlefield and sharing something, which basically is each other’s humanity in a moment of peace, is poignant.

On November 12th the Sainsbury’s grocery empire released a commercial (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWF2JBb1bvM) depicting the famous World War 1 Christmas truce of 1914 between British and German front line troops. The ad has sparked 727 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, over 13 million views on YouTube, and a flurry of coverage from national media. Dr. John L. Hart—a renowned psychotherapist, author of the novel There Will Be Killing, and Vietnam War veteran—weighs in on the controversy surrounding a commercial gone viral and the powerful health benefits of truces.

Headlines screaming “Christmas Ad by Sainsbury Sparks Outrage” (USA Today), “Distasteful World War 1 Christmas Ad Won’t Be Banned” (Business Insider), are joined by Charlie Brooker venting in The Guardian, “A perfectly good war ruined by a tragic outbreak of football… Shivering in a frosty trench—or the frozen aisle in Sainsbury’s parlance—they pause to sing Silent Night and bond over a chocolate bar. It’s all very poignant if you mentally delete the bit where a supermarket logo hovers over the killing fields, which you can’t.”

Dr. John L. Hart, an expert in treating psychological trauma, disagrees. In a piece written in response to the holiday hullabaloo over product placement of a vintage-looking chocolate bar sold by Sainsbury’s (with a reported 5,000 bars sold per hour and a portion of the proceeds going to the Royal British Legion charity), Dr. Hart responds, “Every time we have war, and even when are we not at war, we have advertising/propaganda about it all the time. At least in the Sainsbury’s commercial there is actually something to feel good about. And, it gives us much to think about. For me, a Veteran of one of these endless wars, the idea of meeting your 'enemy' on the battlefield and sharing something, which basically is each other’s humanity in a moment of peace, is poignant. Could it be even remotely possible that the same thing might happen in Ferguson, Missouri (link: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/11/29/photo-boy-hugging-officer-at-portland-ferguson-protest-goes-viral/)? Could people meet in Jerusalem? Or Syria? How about in our own households?”

Dr. Hart goes on to say, “When it comes to home and holidays, the season often elicits strong emotions and memories and has a way of augmenting them to a higher pitch. Some families draw closer together while others punish each other with distance, grudges, refusals to forgive incidents from the past…. But it’s important to remember that the ability to forgive provides more healing for the one doing the forgiving than the recipient of it.”

In his article, Dr. Hart issues the challenge of asking ourselves, “Who are we now?” instead of remaining entrenched in “who we were then,” and points out, “Times change, people change… And there are steps you can take to proactively get in a better place. The link between our minds, emotions and bodies is incredibly powerful—and so is the impact forgiveness can have on us, body and soul.” He then provides a list of the 9 Steps to Forgiveness constructed by Frederic Luskin, Ph.D., director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project.

“The poet William Stafford once wrote, `the darkness around us is deep’,” Dr. Hart concludes. “True as that is, I believe the depth of our common humanity goes even deeper, as it did in a sliver of time on a foreign battlefield in 1914. That’s the timeless message responsible for over 13 million hits on YouTube for a commercial that touches the heart of what we all yearn for—reassurance that in the middle of the deep darkness all around us, if we all could just somehow stop and come out of our dark mental trenches and foxholes to more clearly see those we have been fighting, despising, and labeling we might call it a truce and share some common good in this Season of Light.”

JOHN L. HART, Ph.D has been a practicing psychotherapist for more than forty years, starting in Vietnam
where he was a psychology specialist. He received his doctorate from the University of Southern California and maintained a private practice in Los Angeles for twenty years. He is an internationally respected teacher and has been a consultant to the nation of Norway for their Fathering Project. He is the author of the recently published novel, THERE WILL BE KILLING, which he wrote with Olivia Rupprecht. - http://www.ThereWillBeKilling.com

For more information on Dr. Hart and his article please see the attached or view the article online at http://thestoryplant.com/john-hart-war-and-compassion/

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