The Soldier in Kandahar
The soldier’s gaze wandered across the stony Kandahar desert , looking for signs of life, any signs of life. He did not like this land where it was so hot and so dry and an enemy behind every rock; he missed his own land where his family had a good life, but he knew he was here because he wanted to protect them THERE.
He knew if he did not come here to face this most dangerous threat to humanity, they would soon be at his doorstep, killing his family. The enemy was everywhere and he was not sure what it would take to stop him. Even now, he knew there were many friends of the enemy, back in his own lands; those people were just biding their time for the right moment to launch attacks on his people and he knew they would kill regardless of who the victim would be…no man, woman or child would be safe and his country would be destroyed unless he stopped them HERE!
The soldier hated the place where he stood and hated the enemy for making him come here to fight him. Looking around, he saw his comrades with their weapons and felt safe and sure they would succeed in defeating the enemy, it was only a matter of time.
He did not hear the gun shot, he just felt something shove its way through his body before he heard the sound that appeared unreal. He looked down and saw a small red spot becoming larger and then he fell to the ground; the bright sky turned grey and cloudy as he heard distant shouts and sounds like rapid fingers across a keyboard.
Somebody was dragging him.
“I am okay, don’t worry” . He thought he spoke.
Then it dawned on him that he had been shot; he was having trouble breathing and now, there was a definite pain in his chest. He could see silhouettes of his comrades as they shouted, but their shouts sounded like distant murmurs…he knew he was dying.
The soldier thought of his mother and how she tried to hide her fear when he told her he was going to Kandahar to fight the war, he remembered laughing at her fears.
“O, mother, don’t cry for me, I will be okay. Forgive me“. He thought now.
He thought of his wife and two children. His son had barely started to walk and his two-year old daughter loved sitting on his shoulders.
The soldier wished he had more time to see his children grow, to see his beautiful wife whom he had decided to marry since he was only fifteen; he would have given anything to see them again, if only to say goodbye…
The soldier’s friends were frantic, some were crying, others praying or swearing and all of them were shooting but at what, they were not sure. The soldier could only hear them from a distance and the sounds were fading fast.
“I hope they are safe, they are my only family here”
He wondered who would look after his family, “My son, my daughter, look after your mother, she is a good woman, she is my…”
The soldier was dead.
Was this soldier an American or, was he Taliban?
Both sides have the same narrative and both sides look at the picture in the same way. The evil is not in the soldiers who are simply carrying out orders and defending what they hold precious; the evil is in the leaders who fabricate crucial, existential positions and sell them to their impressionable followers as a sacred cause.
As we approach November 11…Veterans’ Day in the US and Armistice Day all over the world, we should remember that wars are not forced by people, wars are forced by leaders who need to prove their indispensability by pointing to “the enemy” and stirring up fear and hate.
We must also remember that it is ultimately up to US…You and me, to step forward and demand a stop to war before it starts and if it does start, then demand a stop as soon as it starts…wars are the most wasteful imposition of policy on others and all they succeed in doing is to bleed both sides of sincere, valuable people and spread grief and misery everywhere.
“War!”. it should be the last thing on our minds.
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