Earlier, I suggested that we reevaluate Hurricane Ida through the long term lens that “the levees held,” and see that fact as a deeply hopeful moment.
As America readies itself for the 20th Anniversary of 911, we can do the same thing with the Afghanistan withdrawal.
— America’s longest war, costing trillions of dollars, and almost a million lives, is over.
— The Administration has done a remarkable job working a plan to get the remaining 200 Americans out. (All of whom were previously warned for months that it was time to leave…)
— Our military and its partners airlifted 123,000 humans out of the country, the largest single airlift evacuation in our history.
Even harsh critics are now reevaluating the past few weeks and how this has gone. (See the pic)
Was it perfect?
Of course not.
It’s war, and in case you haven’t figured it out yet, the problem with war is always the thing you can’t or didn’t anticipate.
But the war is over.
Short of “winning”…which many of us believed was an impossible goal anyway…this is about as “good” as the end of a war can be. This war was waged with blind vengeance in our hearts, and continued at least a decade after any semblance of any justifiable moral reasoning had vanished.
(Meaning: Even if I grant you all your allegedly “moral reasons,” including many I do not personally believe, it should have ended at least a decade ago…)
Our long, blind, twenty year vengeance-driven war…is over.
And now, here is the spiritual truth we must own: The world had been generationally scarred by it.
The generational violence and suffering which shall yet be born by our veterans and by civilian families across the globe is immeasurable. As a pastor, I personally believe the harmful moral decay of this war is a part of the thing that had caused our world turn so harsh these past twenty years. I futilely pleaded with our leaders twenty years ago to find another path…to use war as a last resort…to consider how “violence leads to violence.”
Almost nobody was listening back then.
As humans so often tragically do, we learned the wrong lessons, and took the wrong actions, in the wake of 911. We chose the path of blind vengeance, which ultimately lead to not one, but two wars. The problem with the path of blind vengeance is that there is almost never a good way out, once you’ve started down it. And by the time you wake up to see what you’ve wrought, it’s often challenging to even try to make things right.
“Violence creates violence.”
Trust me, we are not yet done reaping the whirlwind of the violence born of this war.
It takes remarkable moral courage to stop walking the path of vengeance once you’ve started. It’s not possible to “fix” it all the suffering and moral/spiritual pain of this war, and as I said what healing there will be will take generations.
But at least the war is over.
And I believe, as we seek to find new more hopeful ways to deal with future conflicts, history will be impressed with how comparatively well that ending was executed.
“Good ending” is not really the right way to say it.
“Acceptable ending” that gets us at least the chance to start a newer, more hopeful path.
As we look toward September 11, 2021…this is my prayer.