Saturday, September 10, 2011

We are at war... and life goes on as usual...

I remember seeing a M*A*S*H* episode in which scenes of the doctors operating on badly injured soldiers were alternated with scenes of people partying and jitterbugging back home. It created a powerful message. We were in the midst of Desert Storm at the time, and I was struck by how apropos the episode was to that day.

It's the same now. We have soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan but how many of us, who don't have loved ones deployed, think of them? Do we remember to pray for them, to connect with them, to support their families? Do we think of strangers who have been widowed or orphaned because of this war?

I am sure some people do. There are probably ministries set up to help these folks and some people participate. But I know I haven't done enough. I know that usually I go about my work and play as though there is no war. Even when I travel, the inconveniences at airports aren't that noticeable. They were much more stringent in London and Germany, especially when I flew El Al. I expect it is the same for most people, especially as the war stretches on.

I am not sure exactly what kind of change I am looking for here. It's hard to put it into specific terms. I do have a few ideas:

*All over the country, there are young parents going it alone while their spouse is deployed. They need a lot of things. Babysitters, someone to cut the grass, company, a break. If there is one in your neighborhood, take them a meal even if it looks like they have everything under control. Single parenting is hard. 

*Visit Veteran's in hospitals. I know the VA hospital near me is fairly dreary. It doesn't really matter if the vets are from the current war or not. But regular visits -- weekly, monthly -- that the patients can look forward to are better than showing up once for a holiday (though that isn't a bad thing either).

*Volunteer for one of those ministries I mentioned above.

*Pray regularly for the safety of our military members and a return to peace. I know many churches will mention the war or the military in weekly prayers or at least on Veteran's Day and Memorial Day. I am thinking more of a consistent prayer meeting just for this purpose. I might  start a Facebook group to encourage this kind of prayer. I just thought of this as I was writing.

*Think of something else and do it. (Maybe mention it in a comment below.)

These are just ideas. My thinking is that we should be more mindful, more aware. You never know what will help. On the fourth of July one year, Jordan decided to enter the children's bike parade. He made a tan and painted it in camouflage colors, wore camouflage clothes and painted his face that way, too. He didn't win, stuffed decked out in red, white and blue did. (Well, and they were probably better done, anyway.) But an older veteran approached me and told me he was grateful to see it. "People need to be reminded of what the soldiers are going through over there." I doubt that's what Jordan had in mind. He just thought tans and camouflage were cool. But I was touched by the vet's response. And it's true that we need these reminders, even though there's now way we can fully understand "what they are going through."

So those are my thoughts as we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11. What are yours?

Oh, just one more thing:

To our veterans, military members and their families:


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