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.