Through my tears (literally), I wrote my discussion about 13 hours, but I just can’t let it go quite yet. I said the most important thing I needed to say, but there are other things, too. Things which didn’t fit in that discussion, but which are still rattling around in my brain, resurfacing in my thoughts. So, as much as for my own sake as anyone else’s, I’m jotting down a few last thoughts.
- Once you’ve been in war, your awareness is heightened. In this case, the guys weren’t overly alert to danger, because the danger was real. But what happens when they go home and there isn’t a real and present danger lurking around every corner? How do you stay wise and alert without seeing everyone as a threat? It’s a difficult balancing act, and one where the balance point changes situationally (i.e. the soldiers needed to have a greater sense of awareness in Benghazi than they will at home in the U.S.). This is true for soldiers in battle, but also for life in general, for all of us. It’s true spiritually—how do we recognize there’s a spiritual battle going on, without seeing a demon under every rock and behind every head ache? It’s true emotionally—when someone hurts you, how do you become wise and protected, but not see every person as an enemy? Just to name a few examples. How do we do what Jesus said and remain innocent as doves but wise as serpents? Isn’t that really the heart of this? It’s not simple, not clear-cut, not black and white. It’s a moving target where the balance point changes situationally. It’s incredibly difficult, and incredibly important. We fail to see the danger, people get hurt. We see danger where there is none, people also get hurt. Oh, God, give us wisdom.
- “You can’t put a price on being able to live with yourself.” This was Jack’s rationale for disobeying orders and risking his life to save his fellow man. I don’t have any major commentary here. It’s just a powerful statement made all the more so by the context in which it was spoken.
- A couple times, in the midst of all this crisis, Jack and his counterparts are walking from one compound under attack to another and see locals watching soccer games on TV. One of them was pretty much next to the compound under attack and he’s watching the game on his front lawn in a lawn chair. Astounded, one of the guys says, “These guys are watching a soccer game!” And Jack replies, “It’s just another Saturday night in Benghazi.”Here’s my question, What’s it like to get so desensitized that you could actually sit and watch a soccer game while people are being blown up in the building next to you? I can’t imagine. But then again, would I know it if I was? When an area loses feeling, loses sensitivity, part of what you lose is the awareness that you don’t feel normally. So I can’t assume I’m any different than those men watching TV, totally unaware or uncaring about the atrocities next door. So, God, I ask you, In what areas of my life have I become desensitized? In what ways do I sit back and enjoy some luxury or selfish pleasure while people around me are suffering—because I know I do? Or maybe they aren’t right next to me, but I’m enjoying that luxury at their expense, not caring about the hands that produced it? How often does this happen in my life? How can I raise my own awareness and change my heart so that I care, truly care, because I have YOUR heart for my fellow man?
- Boon: “You know, we could’ve saved him if we’d gone when we got the call. Could’ve saved them both.” Sometimes too late is too little. Because the men didn’t respond when the danger was first announced (because they were ordered not to), men died. Such a cautionary tale.What are the areas where I need to act, NOW? Are there places in my life where others are suffering because I’m doing either too little or what I’m doing is too late? It’s still better than nothing, but who wants the regret of knowing that you could have done more, or what you did would have had a bigger impact if you just hadn’t delayed?
- Rone: “Everyone’s got weapons in Benghazi. Until you see fire, I want you [to wait]. I don’t want anyone going to prison.”It was a relief, but also a risk. They’d had “friends” show up to “help” already and they were nothing more than wolves in sheep’s clothing. So, it was a risk, as it always is to be vulnerable, to let someone in, to trust…but it was also their salvation.I guess this bring us full circle back to my original point about the balancing act between being wise and discerning and aware of the dangers, but also having grace and not seeing everyone as a threat or an enemy. Just because the people in our lives are armed with weapons that can hurt us, doesn’t mean they intend to do us harm. There is such wisdom in giving grace to others, in giving them an opportunity to show us their true intent towards us, in being vulnerable, letting people in, trusting… It’s hard and sometimes it will hurt us, but it will also be our salvation in the end.
The men could have better protected themselves in the moment if they had taken out threats, but they were ordered not to. They couldn’t shoot just because someone was threatening or potentially dangerous, they had to know for certain that person was truly an enemy and acting against them. Sadly, as I watched part of me was wanting them to just shoot, because I wanted them to be safe. That’s not the sad part, the sad part is that I cared for them, and not for the well-being of the perceived threat. In my mind, I was like, “Shoot now, ask questions later.” Rone saw the bigger picture. He knew that there would be serious consequences if they acted too soon—consequences that would be harder to live with than the present struggle. Guilt over killing innocent lives, prison, having your name discredited, honor removed… That caution, as difficult as it was, was also the thing that saved them in the end. They were in a place where friend and foe were almost impossible to distinguish. When a van of soldiers showed up, Tanto was looking down his barrel trying to decide if he should shoot or not. If he didn’t and they were enemies, he knew it was the end for them. But he wasn’t sure they were enemies. Then, the men made a sign that they were friends, there to help.
If you know a veteran who needs help, check out Heroes and Horses. I cannot say enough about the work they are doing or their integrity, both that of the organization and of the men who run it. Click here to watch a video (and be blessed, whether you’re military or not)!