America is now facing the tragedy that it has not won the longest war in its history. Reality is setting in that, at great sacrifice, the United States has failed at securing cultural transformation for Afghanistan. The price has been interminable when both Afghan and American families are considered. The most honorable 2,461 combat deaths and 20,000 wounded warriors will live with us as a nation in heartache for eternity. Over $1 trillion spent confirms the argument that money alone cannot secure freedom.
Americans now ask the question: why did this happen? Their consternation is not just concerned with evacuation, but the 20-year war in general. The natural response to a personal tragedy is to grieve. Americans as a nation are now beginning to grieve collectively.
Ordained ministers and grief counselors are much more adept at providing professional comfort than those of us who are simple citizens. We are fortunate to have them. Despair, denial, confusion, and anger are natural first reactions. When answers are difficult to comprehend, the process is often left with the stages of grief to run its course.
President Biden addressed the nation today. He defended his decision not only to withdraw from the war, but the timing of the evacuation. He blamed former President Trump. He stated that he only had two choices, evacuate or escalate. He committed all efforts of the United States to continue diplomacy for the safe passage of any Americans or Afghans left behind to leave the country.
He questioned what vital interest did Afghanistan present for American security. He used this argument to justify his actions and declare that the war in Afghanistan is over and needed to end. In pursuit of this logic, the President blurs out of focus the clarity of the original purpose for American occupation. It would have been better if the President had defined a foundational principle for the deployment of forces as the objective honored. He closed with a call for prayer.
Tonight, reality will set in once again among the American people that the resulting situation exists, can’t be changed, and can now only be addressed through the continued living of our lives.
The national grieving ensues.
The emotional pain we feel cannot be ignored any more than physical pain can be ignored. We will all grieve in our own way. We will come to terms with our feelings. We will face reality. We will then heal emotionally only if we find strength in recommitment to our own principles of personal purpose.
In this time of national mourning, it is possible to feel isolated as if no one else feels the same pain. We sense helplessness in determining remedy. Our inability to see through to the other side of the crisis bears defeat of the question: what is our identity and purpose?
President Ronald Reagan, in addressing a compendium of national problems, said, “There are no easy answers. But there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what is morally right.”
Thucydides, the ancient historian of the Peloponnesian War, came to this conclusion, “The secret to happiness is freedom….and the secret to freedom is courage.” The essence of the answer as to what a person’s obligation in society is in times of crisis, war, and recovery is the reexamination of moral purpose and the courage of one’s convictions reflected by oneself.
Christians have long-loved in faith the dedication to their moral convictions. In times of trouble and tragedy, Christians turn to Matthew 11:28 believing in Christ’s words: “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” This, followed by Peter’s advice in 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.”
Critical to healing is the knowledge that, in commitment to principles challenged by the anxiety of convictions placed in peril, whether Christian or secular, good will overcome evil. We can take some solace from the words of Helen Keller, “We bereaved are not alone. We belong to the largest company in all the world, the company of those who have known suffering.”
Before the finger-pointing and accusations instinctively emerge, take time to pause, grieve in your own way, and remember that many are suffering in the face of righteousness denied.
In respect for each other’s beliefs for what constitutes countenance for the reason of existence, each of us must recommit to that faith upon which we rely for eternal moral determination.
In the reexamination of our national soul, we can establish, in our diversity, the relationship of company in a binding national propinquity.
My name is Marc Nuttle and this is what I believe.
What do you believe?