Note: Graphic links are clearly marked
How many wars can you remember your country being involved in since you were born?
For me, I can count at least five conflicts that my country has been involved in – I’m not a great historian and I’m pretty sure there are other places where we have deployed our armed forces.
It’s easy to consider it all in the context of good and bad – with us “obviously” being on the side of the good. But lots of people didn’t support the Iraq conflict, so perhaps, it’s not always that clear cut? What about the people we were fighting against? If we weren’t clearly the “good guys”, could it be that they weren’t clearly the “bad guys”?
Look at this photo – these Iraqi insurgents – how do you feel about them? Anger? Look they have weapons – they were trying to kill our troops. Maybe they succeeded. What does this photo make you feel?
Now put yourself in their shoes. What do you think is going through their heads? How do you think they’re feeling? Why do you think they feel their actions were necessary? Do they have family? Children?
What if they kissed their children good night and said “I’m going out to defend our country, so you can grow up in a free country”? What is they said “pray for me, I’m going to make sure you live in a better future, I hope I return in the morning”?
Is that possible?
Let’s leave it for a minute. Take a breath. Breath in.
Tarana Akbari is a 12 year old girl from Afganistan. Tarana Akbari is a lucky girl.
Why? Because she survived a suicide bomb attack that killed 80 people, including 7 of her family.
She was also the subject of this devastating Pulitzer Prize winning photo. (Graphic image)
How do you think she feels?
What about her surviving family?
Devastation? Loss? Anger?
As Remembrance Sunday approaches, and we line up before our minutes silence, to say “Never Again” and think about, “The War to End All Wars”, I can’t help but thinking how hollow those words are.
As people speak about our friends, our family, our neighbours who’ve been killed in conflicts, I wonder who will speak about the people who also thought they were doing the right thing, but whose ambitions, dreams, love life, was killed with a flash from one of our guns. I wonder who will remember Tarana Akbari’s 7 year old little brother – innocently killed in a suicide bomb blast?
Shouldn’t we remember these people as well?
I’ll be wearing a white poppy this Sunday and thinking of those people, will you?
“It is false to argue that only those who support war, support our troops.” – Robin Cook