Friday, October 7, 2011

#37- Jordan

We landed in the kingdom of Jordan in March of 2003.  Everything was different.  The sun, the elevation, the people, and the toilets.  Our new how was expanding at a dizzying pace and had an army of locals and semi-local workers working 24 hours a day to meet the demand.

All of the sudden there was a silence.  It was time for prayer.  It was a magnificent sight to see all these men stop and submit to God.  I was impressed and moved by their unity and commitment to put God first no matter what the circumstances.

After the prayer it was back to a symphony of saws, hammers, and strange languages.  The Jordanians looked at us like I looked at them; as aliens from a different planet.

We were eventually assigned to an air defense unit from Texas.  We had to endure dust storms and the severe lack of women.  We were in the middle of nowhere.  I gave up hope of going home in order to cope better.

We had 12 shifts in guard towers.  It was there that I did all manners of thinking.  I wondered about the root causes of the war and why it was that the actors could not see that peace is better than war.  Who was the aggressor?  What was the other side of the story?  What would cause a man to commit acts of violence so terrible?

I did not buy into the whole virgin thing nor the idea that the enemy hates us because we had freedom. There must be something else.  If religion was the cause I wanted to learn the how and why of it.  It was during one of these guard shifts that I finally pulled out the Qur'an that was given to me in Georgia. I was away from prying eyes and felt safe to read.

The first few pages were delightful.  I learned of Muhammad and his relationship with Khadijah.  I thought it was beautiful and poetic.  I couldn't understand how such and innocent sounding story could have led to massacres but I was motivated to be a religious ambassador to the Muslim world.  By learning Islam I felt that I would be more accepted than previous Americans.

Islam's roots are the same with Judaism and Christianity.  Most of the characters in the book were familiar to me:  Moses, Jesus, Adam, and Eve.  The book was enchanting and lovely.  I felt guilty for having these feelings and had to remind myself that I was a soldier on guard and could not fall for the book.  I was simply doing research.  Nothing more and nothing less.
As nice as the book was I couldn't give it the time it deserved because I had to watch my sector and didn't want to get compromised.  I knew that it would arouse suspicion to read it in the tent at my leisure as well.  I eventually gave the Army Qur'an to a Jordanian soldier as a good will gift.  He gave me a "kufi" in return.


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