Its the stuff that dreams are made of
Its the slow and steady fire
Its the stuff that dreams are made of
Its your heart and soul’s desire
-Carly Simon –
Bassel Shehadeh 1984 – 2012
The economics of war includes the very worst of all things. More people go into a war than will come out of it. And those we think will be safe from that danger, are not. And beautiful young men with dark sparkling eyes and wise smiles so full of promise and love will never be held again. Including a young Syrian studying film making in the United States who felt called to return home and use his skills to records the history being made in his land. Until the bomb fell on him.
Like Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the century before, who could have stayed in relative safety but felt his call to ministry meant being with those who suffered under Nazi oppression. It was three months after his execution that his mother and fiancee found where he had been taken and that he was dead. We have the rich legacy of Bonhoeffer’s writings and the accounts by his friends and admirers of a life lived with conviction. Did that make up to his mother that she did not get to kiss him good bye? I would not even want to guess.
I never met Bassel Shehadeh and I never will. He is a photograph from a news story at the time of his death. The picture put up that showed the man that his friends and family knew and loved. I don’t know who took the picture of that handsome young man leaning casually against the wall and smiling at his photographer. I don’t know if it was a candid or posed shot. I only know my reaction. Now there is a man I would love to sit and talk with over a meal, a drink, whatever. He was not only handsome and charming to look at, he was obviously intelligent, talented, a man of conviction, capable of great love for family, country…and on and on. Now if that is the reaction of a woman old enough to be his mother, seeing a photograph, what must the young women and men in his age pool have been thinking as he walked by, with that o so warm smile…….. that no one will ever touch again.
I was also reminded recently of the death in the line of duty of a St Alban’s Man (one of the very finest tags that mark the fully educated man, intellectually and spiritually) who died in combat serving his country. His friends filled a large cathedral in his honor and the Patriot Guard, those Veterans who served us and continue to serve us by honouring their own, stood guard outside. I will always remember the Bishop, after the service, stopping to thank each and every member of the Guard for their continued service to our nation. The young man’s last time with his class. And the beautiful young widow who will never hold her man again. And the family who will never see him gathered around the table with them once more. Ever.
As the daughter of an army officer who spent the Korean War as a POW and the step daughter of an air force officer who liberated concentration camps after WWII, I understand the choice of war as opposed to making peace with oppression. And as Father’s Day approaches, I wish these two the very best within my heart because I can no longer say it to their faces. I no longer have the opportunity to say all the things and ask all the questions I should have said and asked years ago.
The economics of war include, certainly, the finances and the waste. And the all too neglected healing and care for those who serve and yet come home scarred beyond fending for themselves in the civilian life they paid too dearly to defend for the rest of us. But also the loss of beautiful, young, talented men and women that we will never hold or talk to again. What might have been. And that is what I try to remember as I work to rid the hatred and pettiness in my own heart, the blaming of others for my own lacks, so that I do not cry for war out of self entitlement or power driven hunger.
I will never get to gaze upon the charming Bassel Shehadeh and actually talk with him and have one of those smiles for my very own. That price of war is too high. Love you all.