November 2021: From The 2 Minute's Silence
As Remembrance comes into view once more my thoughts will be varied. This year they will mostly rest with one conflict, its veterans and families. It will also be with the people of the country where the conflict took place.
While in my sixth form years three ladies (our local minister and two missionaries) became involved in Afghanistan. We heard talks, saw slides ( yes I am that old) and heard how the men of Afghanistan were not given to equal rights. The ladies did some incredible work but the Russian withdrawal in 1989 put an end to all that; future conflicts made the place a deadly environment. The Russians could only subdue the place and after 911 Allied Forces only held it. The latter did enable education for all, internet and telecoms; international travel. Women found a number of places in high office and there was a hope of parity with the world. Politics was a bit shaky and corruption was rife but it had some stability and hope.
It was however occupied and that never plays well in certain parts of the world. Afghanistan has never taken to it. Insurgents killed and injured many people from the Allied Forces and thought nothing of letting civilians die or be targeted when fighters hid among them. The injuries were life changing, the bodies often unrecognisable. It is striking therefore that many of our Forces bare testimony to the benefit of this suffering, it made a difference for twenty years and they could testify to the changes. Then one day an American, a President, announced his lot were coming home. The unseemly havoc that followed disgraced a nation and made the insurgents so bold they were marching in Kabul while the Allied Forces were still in town. All the gains washed away by a tide of men carrying the weapons they had always held and rearmed by the departing USA.
The allied Forces began all this in response to 911 and the thought that even greater atrocities were brewing. Terror attacks since have been done by individuals with bombs, trucks or weapons. They have been hard to predict and hard to monitor; though many culprits proved to have been on a list when the files were seen after the event. The ‘mission’ had held back the tide. Now, having seen the ‘water’ rush back you wonder how long it will be before the old horrors return.
I said I would think of all the parties affected in Afghanistan at Remembrance. I know some families and Service Personnel who were damaged or lost family or colleagues. Some have been filled with the thought ‘ was it all in vane’. Just to make sure this occurred to them the Media descended on many to ask that very question. In so doing their sacrifice and their lives are dishonoured. They deserve more than our two minutes of silence to ask for their peace. Those who serve their Country deserve better and it should not be conditional on those who never raised a finger to provide the security the Allied Forces hoped to gain.
In Johns Gospel 15: 12-13 Jesus speaks to his disciples about love and their choices “ Greater love has no one than this, that one should lay down his life for his friends”. To lay down your life for others to stand in harm’s way so that others have security is noble and good but comes at a great price. In the silence after Big Ben has chimed that should be our focus along with the families who share that price from eery conflict. God will honour such action given for the good of others. So should everyone else.