Sir E.J. Drury II
Sir EJ Drury II

Q. What inspired you to write A Different Kind of Sentinel?

A. A voice inside me kept prodding and prodding me to write. So I sat down, one day, and started writing the first chapter of A Different Kind of Sentinel. That voice eventually became my voice as a writer.

Q. How did your life experiences shape the viewpoints that are shared in your book?

A. They urged me to follow in the footsteps of such notables as the contemplative Thomas Merton, psychoanalyst Carl Jung and Zen Master D.T. Suzuki, and turn inward where the real war between the beast within us all and the human side of our natures is being waged.

Q. As a Vietnam veteran, what did you learn in the Navy that can be translated into life lessons?

A. As the good Dr. Jekyll, we enter the military which brings out the beast in us, Mr. Hyde, so that we can kill without fear of punishment. With conflicting emotions we leave the military as both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Who will win the battle for our souls over the rest of our lives is the one we feed.

Q. How has being in war allowed you to value life differently?

A. In war you are always just one bullet away from death. With that thought always in the back of your mind, you learn to live each day as if it were going to be your last, to love with everything you’ve got because life is that precious.

Q. Given the high suicide rate among members of the military, what are some ways to help veterans deal with thoughts of suicide and PTSD?

A. The veteran contemplating suicide must return to the world of the imagination to slay the beast he has become before it kills him. With regard to the moral dilemma that is PTSD, that veteran too must return to the imagination to seek out the forgiveness of those he has killed as he forgives those who have trespassed against him. For it is only in forgiving and being forgiven, as I explain in A Different Kind of Sentinel, that he will find healing.

Q. How did growing up with a schizophrenic father and an alcoholic stepfather influence your outlook on life?

A. I watched my real father succumb to madness, and my stepfather, to alcoholism as a result of their nightmarish experiences in the South Pacific during WWII. There was no way that I was going to let that happen to me. No one was going to force me to kill another human being and live with that nightmare for the rest of my life.

Q. You discuss the need to take “pauses” in life. What do you mean by that?

A. As I show in A Different Kind of Sentinel, there is a constant dialogue going on inside of us between different aspects of our personalities that we miss out on when we don’t take the time to listen. That conversation exists solely for our benefit, to increase our level of consciousness and prod us into becoming who we really are.

Q. How do you think we have lost our way as a society, and as individuals?

A. We are so out of sync with Nature, we don’t even know who we are anymore. And we are self-destructing much faster than any past mass extinction on this planet, that no plant or animal will have time to evolve enough to survive the inhospitable planet it will inherit. This self-destructive tendency is built into our psyches, into all of nature, and comes into play when a firmly entrenched old dying world order absolutely refuses to make way for the new one.

Q. What can we do as a society and/or individuals to better our lives?

A. It’s all about getting back in touch with who we really are…that I am you as you are me and we are all one with this planet…that is the essence of enlightenment…for each of us is gifted with something we must help each other attain above all else…and that my friend is paradise regained.

Q. What do you mean when you say we should live life more symbolically than literally?

A. According to natural law, Nature must be obeyed one way or the other as an unconscious animal, taking the images that pop into our heads literally as animals have done for eons, or as the conscious human being we are slowly becoming, responding to the meaning of the images instead. For example, when a soldier wants to commit suicide, he really doesn’t want to kill his physical being. He wants to kill an image of himself that no longer suits him. And he can only do so by turning to his imagination in much the same way that I have in A Different Kind of Sentinel, to slay the beast he has become before it kills him. And kill him it will if he does nothing to stop it.

Q. You stress our need to live more simply. Is that what you consider most fundamental for living a fulfilling life?

A. Simple living and the right use of the material goods of this world are essential for everyone to live a fulfilling life. But it is love and union with one’s soul that truly completes us. For it is in giving back to others what we have been given that we find true fulfillment.

Q. How do you suggest we alter our mindsets to maintain a positive outlook on life?

A. I’m reminded of a quote by E. B. White, “I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.” We must put an end to our abuse of this planet before it destroys us. And if you think it won’t, think again, for it once destroyed 90% of all plant and animal species in existence at that time.



A Different Kind of Sentinel