Sunday, October 9, 2011

#38- Survival

After our mission in Jordan we were sent to Iraq. That is were I learned of the "Rules of Engagement". These were rules of behavior during war. I thought that nothing could be more ridiculous than rules of the most inhumane and ungodly act possible.

It was unbearably hot. We moved constantly. At one stop we had to guard Iraqis that we were told were persons of interest.  We inherited this assignment from some special forces guys.

This was my first time dealing with Iraqis.  They had bags on their heads and were smelly.  I felt bad about the assignment and wondered whether or not the operation would be seen as inhumane if a news crew was there filming.

I focused on my duties when it was my turn.  I didn't know if these people were guilty so I just followed orders.  When we had down time me and others pondered our roles in this war, the causes of the war, and our treatments of the Iraqis.

We moved around until we found our permanent home and mission in a town called Ar-Ramadi.  It was there that we endured attacks, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), firefights, and suicide bombers.

We did a lot of patrolling.  We did what can be called humanitarian missions.  We raided homes.  We set up traffic control points and searched cars for suspects, explosives, and weapons.  We did what we had to do to survive.

It was in Ar-Ramadi that I experienced an unparallel level of fear.  I felt that I was probable going to die there and what was worst was that I had no control of it.  Having recently discovered my poetic skills I felt ashamed that I had never written a poem for God.  I wrote one of my best pieces called "Praise God" there.

In my past I had completed 60% of Richard Wright's "Native Son".  I started to read "The Hiram Key" but gave it away as a gift to a guy in another platoon.  I read "The DaVinci Code" in record fashion.  It occurred to me that I had never read the Bible.  It was then that I decided that I should read the Bible from the beginning to end.  I didn't even think such a thing was possible.  I only heard of Jason Taylor of the Miami Dolphins who read the whole thing.  At that time I joked to myself that I would take and use any amulet or good luck charm that would keep me safe because war was no joke.  I carried my Student Bible as a good luck charm and decided to give it a try.  Before I read the Bible I told myself that I would "format" my brain and erase all that I was told of the Bible and start afresh.  This was a key moment in my life.

I told myself that I was going probably going  to die and wanted to find out what happened when I got to heaven.  I grabbed a notepad and said that I would ask any questions that came to mind and look for the answers within the book or ask my pastor at home should I survive.  That seemed like a fair, sensible, and admiral thing to do.

What I did was open Pandora's box.

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