Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Apology

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.

- Paul Boese

One of the oddest conversations I had with my father was over the "apology" to the Afghan people.  Dad said it is repugnant to apologize to the enemy.
Who is my enemy?  To some, anyone of the Muslim faith is an enemy.  Any Arab, Palestinian, Syrian, Iraqi or Iranian, any Afghan...  is that what we as a people want to understand as 'My Enemy'?   
  I've always thought that we as a people, in many ways all western society, seem to excel in those environments where we are sure who our enemy is and can hate them without hesitation.  It's usually best to have someone far away, of course, so that we never really get to know them.  And, it's usually best if they think different than we do, wear different clothes, have different beliefs, and especially if they look different.
  In war it is easy to understand the enemy.  He's the one pointing a rifle at you, right?  Well, for the soldier, that is true.  But, if you widen your scope you begin to see not the soldier, but the troop movement.  Widen further, and you see not just the troop movement, but how that movement can effect your own goals and security.  Widen further and we begin to see perhaps the man behind the movement.  We see the Field Marshal, the King, the President.
  If I am a soldier and I defeat another soldier, well, he is doing his job and I am doing mine.  If I am a General and I defeat the enemy's expansion, well, I've done my job while that other general did his best to do his.  If I am a king or a president, and I defeat the leader of the other country, well, I've done my job and he failed to do his.   All is relatively well in this scenario, outside the nightmares of the soldier or the general, or even the president for the cost of actions taken.
  What happens, though, when a soldier kills not another soldier but a civilian?  What happens when a general takes over a land and subjugates a people, changing their very way of life?  What happens when a president  gives an order that decimates a country?  It is out of ones job.... the actions go beyond the rules of civility.
 It's easy to say 'kill them all' when the trigger is in someone else's hands.  It's easy to play 'couch-potato quarterback'.  After all, I can spout out my little hatreds far from the killing fields, far from the action, far from the consequences.  I can declare my leaders incompetent and weak without recrimination because I live a cushy life.  But, if we are to place a man/woman in leadership, we expect them to lead, to seek out the future, to create a world we would want to live in.
  I don't know if admitting when one is wrong is able to be considered "aiding and comforting the enemy".  I don't know if making war upon a people or a religion is what some think we are doing.  I do know that if we are so wild as to be incapable of defining our objectives, declaring our enemies, and deciding our course of achieving our goals, we best stay home and bitch from the couch.


Scottie said...

Amen Randy, Amen! I have a few thoughts if you don't mind. First on military people doing their job. One thing that has developed over the years and was taught frequently when I was in the military is the "lawful order". A member of the military is expected to obey lawful commands, regardless of what they personally think of them. However after several devastating excesses, we were taught that we have a duty and responsibly to NOT follow an unlawful order. We were repeatedly informed and schooled on what might be an unlawful order, how to respond and that we were PERSONALLY responsible if we did follow such an order and commit illegal actions.

I don't know if these things are still taught, but there are rules even to war, and there is still a right and wrong to even fighting those who fight you. After all if we do as we claim they are, are we any different or better?

On apologizing. I disagree with your dad. I know of no one , not one on this earth, who has not made a mistake big or small, and in some way negativity affected / effected some one else. My self included. I think to offer a sincere apology shows an understanding of what you did, how it affected the other person(s)and that you are willing to learn, change and grow.

I may not have mentioned to you my favorite three "R"s. Remorse, regret, repentance. I think it takes a truly grand person to achieve these. It takes a human to understand these and to be willing to be humble enough to follow through with them.

Often you will hear someone get defensive when corrected at work. That shows a thought process that is NOT the three "R"s.

I think when a country does wrong, or has an attitude that is the one who has given the offence, I think to give a public apology shows strength, shows an enlightenment, shows growth. Sadly it is a truth that no country, even ours, can say they were never wrong. It may have been an event or action in the past or even on going today. Like people countries make mistakes, none are perfect. To admit that and grow from it is a inspiring thing.

Give my best to your folks. Hugs and loves. Scottie

Scottie said...

Wow, just saw how much I wrote...Randy you will soon have to put a word limit on me....LOL

Love you. Scottie

Anonymous said...

Hallo Randy,
If you made ​​a mistake, you have to apologize!!!
If you have committed many mistakes - what then???
What is an enemy???
Why are our enemies, the Afghans???
I am ashamed as a German, that our government / soldiers take part in this war. - Just so that a few oil magnates get even richer.
For what price?
Toll of blood!!!

randy said...

Hi Scottie;
You are free to use as many words as you feel you need/want. Always.
I agree with you, btw. I believe our men made mistakes - with the burning of the quran, the killing of civilians... etc, I guess... and if we don't bring in our focus and let the people hurt know that we did mess up, that it was an accident or a situation quickly being remedied, then we become a bully. I don't want to be known as being from that bully country.
Many hugs;

randy said...

Hi Nikki;
To be honest, I don't even know what we are doing over there anymore. I feel we've lost our way, provided we actually had direction to begin with.