Originally posted Fri, 08/05/2005 - 09:09 in the middle of some of the worst days in Iraq.
One of my best friends from high school just sent an email to me. He apologized for the rant, but he needed to vent. He is so frustrated with the situation that he just needed to spout.
Y'see. He's in Iraq. He's a Marine reservist. He was one of the last to go. He was against going into war with Iraq, but all his buddies had already been there. He felt like he needed to be there, a brother in arms.
In the last week, 21 marines have perished, all from his regiment. This includes the 14 marines from the same Ohio town. So many midwestern towns have proudly sent their young men and women into battle, but this seems entirely too heavy a price to pay for one small town to bare.
My buddy is frustrated with the bravado of the administration and their friends in the media saying that we are winning the war. We're simply not winning, from his view in the Al-Anbar province in western Iraq. Its unclear how we could win or what victory looks like.
My buddy always wanted to be in the military. He has a high degree of honor and respect for this country and for our forefathers who often had to fight and die for the freedoms we enjoy today. In high school we would frequently discuss the world wars. Sometimes, I would visit him at his Civil War re-enactments. We share this comment respect for the country, for our history, and for what yet needs to be done.
After high school, he went off to Virginia Military Institute and then into the Marines. I went off to Cornell and then into the inner city. And through these different paths, our feelings about the world, our politics have actually grown closer.
I've asked him to share his thoughts and frustrations directly to a broader audience through CrossLeft. We'll see if he feels at liberty while he's still over there.
I often think back about our conversations over the last 15 years. When they haven't been about family, love and heartbreak, they've tended to history and politics.
In the Civil War, leaders like Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee were necessarily close to the violence before them. They approached war with a heavy heart. There was little bravado, no "Bring It Ons", no "wanted dead or alive". There was a job to do, and both men led their men through understanding and compassion for the common soldier. There was no room for arrogance in something as awful as war.
Christians can and should debate whether war is ever justified. Warding off a colonial power, freeing enslaved Africans, and confronting Fascism all seem to be worthwhile endeavors, and in my estimation worthwhile enough to fight and die for. But pre-emptive war and bringing democracy by force seem be against anything that Jesus taught. Certainly the arrogance and jingoism of the current administration does not fit either the teachings of Jesus, or the tradition of American military and political leaders in times of war.
Fighting men and women don't brag, don't encourage more terrorists to come out and fight, but rather do their jobs methodically and professionally in honor to their country and its ideals. If any of our current leaders had ever put themselves in harm's way, had ever fought in the military, maybe they would know and understand that. Maybe then they would be real with the American people, admit their mistakes, and find a way to get our men and women out of this quagmire.
Its up to us to push for this change. As hard as it is sometimes, we must pray for our leaders and pray for a change of a heart. We must also continue to protest this war, to vote for candidates who pledge to get us out of war, and to convince others who still support the war that we have erred in our ways and its time now to end this terrible mistake.
As Christians, its also falls upon us to pray for the safety of my buddy and all of our armed forces, and the well-being the innocent Iraqi citizens who have suffered through a dictatorship, a 12 year embargo, US bombings, and are now caught in the cross-hairs of an occupation and insurgency.
God Bless Them.
#peace #war #christianity #progressivechristianity