Early this morning I visited with a young man serving outside Fallujah with the United States Marine Corps. We talked about a host of issues, ranging from thoughts about marriage to the doctrine of transubstantiation. Near the end of our conversation, he sent me a copy of his journal. Below are the thoughts of a 24 year old U.S. Marine serving in Baharia, Iraq:
I always thought that ripping apart a house that belonged to a terrorist would be rather easy. I thought that I could do it without even a slight blink of the eye. I thought I could shred their belongings from one end of their house to the other. I thought that I could look them in the eye and the only feeling that would exude from me was sheer hatred. It did not take long for me to figure out that this was simply not going to be the easiest of tasks.
If all of the aforementioned raiding simply involved those that were after the blood of American forces, I would have no problem. If it simply involved those males that were after the same goal as we, which is victory, I would have no problem. It couldn’t be further from those idealistic wartime simplicities.
Patting down a boy’s father in front of his very young eyes at a place that should be private, a place that just over 6 years ago was his quiet home, feels somewhat wrong although still necessary. War for the young man is often the time of his life. I have read many books regarding the feelings of young men of war. I have read the trials and tales of Ulysses and his quest to be the greatest warrior of the Trojan era. I have read the stories of young David and his desire to slay the giant so that God might be glorified and that his people will be free from tyranny.
In all of these stories the horror of those that stand by, without weapons, is often left out. It’s the young boy who watches his father thrown to the ground and searched on the same ground that they used to play soccer that is truly changed. It is the boy who sees a weapon pointed at the face of his uncle and hears men scream at him that if he does not back away he will be shot. It is that boy who grows up to hate the invaders. It is that boy who will forever be scarred with war. It is that boy who will never again be able to look at his father with the same fervor that young boys in America often do. This young boy will never again be able to participate in the childhood pastime of betting whose father could do what. This boy now knows that his father is not invincible. He knows that his father cowers under the gun. He knows that his father was guilty but a coward.
His father is all about the cause of having the invaders leave but lies when he is in front of them. He sees his father in a way that he never has. He sees the nervousness, the hesitance to speak, the weakness of knees and all of a sudden the strength that the young boy was told that Allah would give, seems to be as unreal as the chance the invaders will soon be defeated.
I have tried to prepare myself for loss of blood, for bullets flying over head, for bombs, and for destruction. The little boy’s eyes were not on my checklist of reality. They were a distant thought. They were and often are an after thought. These eyes do not shape the mission while it takes place but do affect while you lay at night. The glass over these eyes will most likely prove to be haunting all the days of my life.
All of these are necessary evils I presume. The American idealist in me thinks that this young boy is in far better shape now than he would have been without our influence on his life. The realist in me tries to illuminate that this boy would be in no danger simply for the fact that his father is loyal to the fallen regime even to the peril of his own family. If he supports the Republican Guard in the face of tanks and 50 caliber weapons, how much more would his support be shouted in accord with a government that hates the west?
I have no feelings of regret for the man. His sympathy left the moment he conspired to kill Marines. He did this to his boy. He is the one that doesn’t fold his morals for the sake of his son. He sits firmly on a double edge sword. He either folds to his religion and the ideals that he wants his son to hold or he folds to the image that every father wants his children want of them.
The Christian believes that God is the source of all good. All things flow through him and that without his strength we are nothing. Nearly 2 billion people on this globe believe that Our Father who art in heaven has a hallowed name. This is the example that the father tries to live by. These men desire to be men of their God. They, like Abraham, believe that they might have to offer up their sons and families in order to gain favor with the Almighty. The Christian however believes that this sacrifice has already been made.
The man tells his young boy that Allah demands his obedience, even his obedience unto the death of himself and his family. I imagine the young boy is entranced with such a God. I imagine that he has Allah as some sort of galactic superman. He knows that his father is willing to die for Allah. He knows that many of his family and his countrymen have already died for this jihad. He begins to believe that this will be his destiny as well. He will die for honor. He will die for Allah.
I wonder though, is deceit mentioned as one of the methods of honor? Is lying told to be OK? The glassed over look in the little boy’s eyes wonders the same thing. He wonders if all of this for naught? I can imagine him wondering why we don’t just tell the infidels that we have bombs and desire to use them?
All of this leads me to believe that bombs and guns will never cause peace. It will never prove to be a method to change the ideology of a people. Judeo-Christian dogma is not something that can be force fed. Its not something that congress or the Whitehouse can dictate. If after this young boy’s experience, he desires it, I will be very surprised. I hope with all hope that he does. My breath is not held. Our methods must changed or the madness will not.