Moment Of Grace On The Battlefield
American medic in Iraq shows what forgiveness meansAuthor: John P. Avlon
Source: Houston Chronicle - July 24, 2005
If there is a better story of forgiveness and grace under fire in this war, I have yet to hear it. This little-known incident, first reported by the Army Times, is fresh evidence of the fact that there is no moral equivalence between the sides in the war on terror. War does not make much room for St. Francis of Assisi-like behavior, but Private Tschiderer's actions stand out as among the least sordid acts ever recorded on a battlefield. In the long history of humanity, a far more normal thing to do would have been to blow your attacker's head off with extreme prejudice. The stark contrast of this Hippocratic oath in action was not just a matter of personal kindness, but also American military training. Our troops may not be perfect - we are human beings at war, not angels in heaven - but there is no moral equivalence between terrorists who target innocent humans life, and the soldiers of the civilized world who try to bind the wounds of those who have just tried to kill them in combat.
On a battlefield diary level, this attack and its aftermath replayed the larger contrasts seen during the London subway terrorist attacks of recent days. On one end of Great Britain, the elected leaders of the civilized world were meeting to discuss ways to alleviate global poverty - in what amounted to world history's largest charitable gift - while on the south side of the nation, radical Muslims targeted their fellow citizens with homemade bombs designed to kill as many people as possible as they quietly commuted to work. Actions speak louder than words, and apologists who like to paint this war as a misunderstanding between essentially peaceful peoples at the hands of equally intolerant leaders are not paying attention with any sense of perspective.
In the United States, youthful indiscretions usually tend toward fraternity parties, cheerleaders and smoking pot. In the world of Islamic fascism, a youthful indiscretion is about storming embassies and taking hostages. It is a matter of freedom versus fanaticism.
When the history of the war on terror is written, the attempted murder of Pfc. Stephen Tschiderer and his morally courageous response may not rise to the textbook level, but as an anecdote it confirms what has been true since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 - we are meeting the worst of humanity with the best of humanity. When the will gets weak and the purpose gets murky, it only takes a quick step back to recognize that this is a conflict between a culture of death and a culture of life; the differences cannot be more stark or the stakes higher
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