Night War

It was happening again. I’m deep in sleep when the words begin coming into my brain from somewhere, an account, a news story, with names, places, and events. Yet, I later find no evidence that any of it is true. Even more puzzling, nothing seems to have caused it.

Eventually, it wakes me up, yet the words keep coming. Not until they stop do I get up and write what’s been revealed:

Colonel Frank Young, a U.S. Air Force officer stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan, had just picked up his staff vehicle from the repair depot. He was driving through the streets when the bomb exploded, killing Young plus 34 others nearby.

He was blown apart. Yet, the human body is an amazing organ, it doesn’t give up easily. So Colonel Young had perhaps five seconds to realize he was dying.

Those closest to him said his greatest concern would not have been for himself but rather for those who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, their lives draining away in pools of blood and clumps of twisted wreckage.

As a kid, Young knew he was destined to serve in the military. His passion for his country was deep, his dedication to duty so intense, and his performance so exceptional he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

But why was this being unfolded to me in the middle of the night? The answer came quickly as I now lay wide awake.

The result wasn’t my being made more aware of the cost of the U.S. military initiative in the Middle East or U.S. foreign policy or politics. Rather, it questioned war, the futility of the act in its attempt to destroy, take over, and control. While the motives may be different, war is still war.

Battlefields are everywhere, not just in foreign countries, but also in homes, schools, businesses, and on the streets, staged with both minds and weapons. The results, however, are always the same. Someone is killed or injured. Even if they escape those horrors, the memory of the fight persists until they die. They’re plagued by thoughts of what might have been, of how life could have been so much more rich and rewarding.

War can always be defined as a conflict, people rising up against each other for reasons obvious or hidden.

So this question: Is war necessary? Part of being human? If so, must it continue? Is it idealistic to believe war can be eliminated, and lives lived peacefully? There never is a clear answer.

Maybe, just maybe, though, such an exercise is unnecessary.

If war could be identified and caught at the beginning, it could be snuffed out before turning into a roaring inferno consuming and ruining lives, destroying hopes and dreams, leaving a bloody mark in the Book of Mankind.

This isn’t a nation to nation thing. This is a personal matter, parent against child, friend against friend, customer against company, supervisor against worker, CEO against a board of directors, leader against the led.

Seeds of discontent, bitterness and anger are there, waiting for the right time to germinate, grow, and flower into war.

The idea is to never let that happen, to realize there are options of dissolving, resolving or simply walking away. Of remembering that life is far too precious to allow anything to threaten its existence, that there always have been, are now and will forever be differences among men.

Such preventive actions may be impractical at the least and impossible at the most. That jealously, hate and greed are part of our genetic makeup, are there when we are ready to inject their poisonous ways at every opportunity when you and I don’t agree.

I can only leave you with this thought. Wars begin not on the battlefield but in the human mind. A single thought can be repeated so many times we find ourselves being controlled by it. That leads to our creating a plan or a strategy and ultimately to action. And that is the beginning of war whether it be between two people or two nations.

Did my subconscious deliver all of this while knowing it would cause me to get up and write these words, then share them here with you? That remains a mystery.

I do know, however, that whatever the intent, it was a stern reminder that nothing can ever be truly and everlastingly achieved by war. Indeed, in its wake will always be broken hearts, destroyed dreams, and lifeless bodies.

Give that some serious thought the next time you begin to argue with anyone about anything.