Several years ago, I told you about an amazing Iraqi soldier, fighting under Saddam Hussein in Desert Storm. A member of the privileged class, he lived well and wanted for little. Amazingly, he was a Christian. When Saddam rained poison gas down on the Kurds as punishment for their lack of support for his regime, the soldier watched as it all unfolded –terrified parents desperately pushing terrified children forward in a vain attempt to get them away from the poison. Young men running with their grandmas on their backs. Families tossing aside the last of their worldly goods in their struggle to outrun the poison gas.
As a Christian, the soldier could not remain on the side of the aggressor. So he hurriedly gathered his wife and children together, then locked the front door of his lovely house. He tossed the keys, along with the keys to his luxury car, to his neighbor as he hurried his family to join the crowd of running Kurds. He knew he would not be coming back.
Saddam Hussein is long gone. The Kurds are in another place, living a better life than they ever had in Iraq. As for the soldier, he and his family cast their lots with the Kurds, teaching and healing and demonstrating compassion.
The soldier’s compassion brought him and his family to the Kurds, but it is their faith that to this day sustains them there. They are Christians. And because of the choices one Iraqi soldier made, many Kurdish Iraqis are as well.
And now it is Syria. The Syrian government, Iran, and Russia are together waging the same horror on a different unsuspecting part of the country.
I wonder…might a Syrian soldier cast his lot with the hopeless population and risk his life to help them? Or an Iranian? Or possibly even a Russian?
And what about Americans?
What about us?
Will anyone even speak up?
“The greatest patriotism is to tell your country when it is
Novelist Julian Barnes