I recently returned from my annual trip with five sorority sisters. This time, things weren’t quite as funny as they usually are since we ended up in the E.R., concerned that one of the girls had a blood clot. (She did not.)
While waiting for her ultrasound, I noticed a man in the waiting room wearing a “Vietnam Veteran” hat. I thanked him for his service; several people followed. “John” was there because of the extensive damage done to him by Agent Orange. His explanation of how the veterans of his era were mistreated upon returning home was interrupted by the technician calling his name.
The next time we had a chance to visit was when my girlfriend and I left the hospital. There was John, leaning against a pillar, trying to catch his breath. We walked him to his car, thanked him again and said goodbye.
Three days later, on the day of the U.S.-Afghanistan pull-out, I met an Afghanistan veteran, the nephew of one of my girlfriends, who shared that he wept when he heard the news. “I carried a burn victim from his armored car after driving across an I.E.D. while on patrol, and I had friends who came home without legs or arms. And for what?” he questioned. I had no answers, but I knew that if I were the loved one of a soldier who had sacrificed life or limb or sanity for that cause, and now we weren’t sure we could even rescue those who had helped our military, I would be grieving.
But what if grief is not enough of a response? As I write this, I am watching television to see the madness of hundreds (thousands?) of Afghani civilians scrambling to get to the airport. Carrying only a satchel or small bag, they appear desperate. At a press briefing, an Afghani journalist fights back tears as she asks the Pentagon spokesman what will happen to all of the women who finally can hold a job and not be mistreated by their husbands. She dons her face mask, a flag from her country that she left 20 years ago, the same time our country went to her native land’s aid, and implores our leaders not to abandon what has been accomplished.
My friend emails that his military buddy has spent the night in hiding with three Afghans who worked as interpreters for the U.S. They and their families (a total of 14) have just safely arrived at the airport. Is there any room for them in my friend’s hometown?
I think of myself, sitting in the comfort of my air-conditioned living room, every thirty minutes moving a sprinkler around my yard (Heaven forbid my grass turns brown!) while watching on television as our leaders explain how necessary this ending is. And yes, I get that we should not stay in another country forever. I get that 20 years should be enough time to train a militia. I get that no more lives should be lost.
Still… Should these evacuees come to our area, will I help? Really help, not just talk about it? I’m sure that’s what Jesus would have me do. Please, Readers, let us not put our heads in the sand and fail to be moved with compassion. If ever there was a time to be in prayer for the decisions our country’s leaders make, this is it. It’s the least we can do. Actually, it’s also the most.