We must live in the present, for that is where life happens. The joys, the sadness, the triumphs and defeats are now. Just ask the US and Japanese Women’s Soccer Teams, where they thinking about yesterday or tomorrow? But the present becomes the past and is replaced by the future. Thoreau tells us “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” But at some point we should step out of the present and review the past if we are to prepare for, and shape the future.
How do we know what is right, just, and moral, if we are convinced to condemn the memories because they offend? Where will our context for future evaluation come from?
One sun drenched morning in 1980 I climbed down the steps of an aircraft that had taken me a thousand miles into harms way and had brought me home. Without men – this aircraft was nothing, but without this aircraft we were just individuals. Together we formed a group united in purpose and willing to do whatever was asked of us. We carried the hopes of a President and an unknowing nation into an effort that, at best, was assessed as only a little better than a 50% chance of success.
As I sat under the wing of that aircraft, limp and still as the heat rose off the hard packed desert, I was flooded with the memories of the last 15 hours and let those events flow from me. The complete and overwhelming sense of failure, the sense of pain for those we lost, and concern for those we brought home severely burned and wounded. I spent some considerable time in prayer seeking to understand why. God doesn’t seem to tell me the why’s to a lot of my questions.
Little did I imagine this would be the opening salvo of America’s long religious war with the Middle East and radical Islam? But perhaps that is too smug an idea. The west has been at war with Islam since before the crusades, but like a fire it ebbs and flares. Today, with modern weapons it just seems to be noisier as we replace secular states allowing fundamentalist’s to gain power and they in turn exert their powers on their neighbors.So here we are now 35 years later and I’ve added so many more memories yet these initial ones continue to offend me for the tragic nature of their origin