This morning while I was checking my e-mail, the news headlines on my AOL homescreen were going through as usual. I normally look at the beginning articles and then scroll to the next one, never really reading in depth. But this morning, something caught my eye. Aaron Toppen, a 19 year old soldier from Mokena, Illinois, was among five U.S. servicemen killed in southern Afghanistan in an apparent friendly-fire air strike during a security operation. I read the news article, and I was able to find his sister on Facebook, in which I was reading some of her posts and saw that just a few days ago, Aaron had messaged her saying, “Just wanted to say I love you guys and I’ll let you know when we get back.” I began to weep uncontrollably as I viewed pictures of him, and his simple humanity hit me in the face. Aaron had just lost his father about 5 months ago, and now his sister and his mother lost their brother and their son. My tears turned to tears of anger as I cried out to God, asking when enough is enough. When will old men stop dreaming up wars for young men to die in. When will there ever be reconciliation, hope, peace.
I don’t know about you, but I am tired. I am tired of fighting, I am tired of my brothers and sisters from everywhere in the world, not just in the American military, that are suffering from the horrors of war. I am tired of hearing about people dying because of war, I am tired of hearing about the tragedies war has caused, and I am tired of the violence that has become a “normal” thing. I am tired of it all. I find myself asking all the time in regards to war, God, where are you?
God is in us. He’s here. He’s now. We hold the key to reconciliation, hope, peace. God isn’t going to fix these problems when He has given us the key to do it. We need to stop dehumanizing people, we need to stop justifying war, we need to stop the hate. If you serve in the American military, you are my brother and sister. If you serve in the Iraqi military, you are my brother and sister. We come from the same walks of life, we are all human beings. And if we’re being honest here, war has taught us to dehumanize. Enough is enough.
Another world is possible. If you’re as tired as I am with war, join me. May we lay at the graves of fallen soldiers all over the world and groan so loudly that government officials ask us what we’re doing. May we have the courage to go to war stricken areas and form relationships with those we’ve been taught to dehumanize. May the cries of our heart reach the ears of our President. We don’t have to settle for the fact that young death is a chance we take when young people sign up for the military. Let us dream up something different together. Let us hold hands as we walk to the front doors of the leaders of our nations to proclaim that another world is possible.
“Someday war and poverty will be crazy, and we will wonder how the world allowed such things to exist.” – Shane Claiborne