Veterans' Experiences and Perspectives

From the Front Lines Abroad to Ferguson, USA

Honor posterNowhere is humanity’s “Jihad” (struggle) more evident than right here in our own backyard. Okay, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) might be a little more gruesome and barbaric, followed closely by the Taliban and Boko Haram, but let’s focus on our own struggles within our own borders for the purpose of this discussion. In addition to our men and women deployed around the world in today’s “hot spots,” our police and first responders are increasingly serving on the “front lines” right here in America’s heartland. “Protecting and Serving” and “Keeping the Peace” have never been simple tasks, but as we are becoming more of a Divided than United States of America, our first responders must be feeling more “damned if they do and damned if they don’t” than ever before.

We are all struggling, individually and collectively, at one or more of the three levels of “Jihad” cited in the Holy Quran and as practiced by the majority of Muslims. Let’s stop for a minute. Does not each of the major Scriptures, in a variety of ways, similarly challenge mankind to do right by one another? From “Do the right thing” to simply exercising “The Golden Rule,” with the exception of psychopaths, sociopaths and criminals, are we not all striving to be the best person we can be (“Jihad e Akbar”), extending good will and values to our family and community (“Jihad e Kabeer”), and ultimately resorting to physical self-defense only as a last resort (“Jihad e Asghar”)?

When situations get out of hand and one-time lovers or once neighborly neighbors are suddenly distrustful and fearful of one another, or outraged, when that “Fight or Flight” instinct comes along, bad things frequently happen and “911” is called. Along come the police and first responders, on the front lines of the law and order upon which we rely – in lieu of the unfettered revenge and mayhem occurring in so many other parts of the world.

Is there a perfect country or system of government in this world? Is a “Utopia,” however you might define it, even possible – so long as there are two or more humans present? Is there a country in this world that allows, permits or even encourages such open criticism of itself? However the unfortunate incident in Ferguson, Missouri, plays out, whomever the first aggressor or whatever their justification, have the media and outside voices been helpful to the local citizenry? Will we ever see a day when the Al Sharpton’s, Jesse Jackson’s, politicians, so-called “journalists,” “celebrities” and “Talking Heads” might actually strive to be peacemakers instead of exploiting tragedies for their own aggrandizement and gain? Enough already of the disinformation and misinformation that only divides and inflames – making an already thankless job of “Keeping the Peace” just that much more difficult, if not impossible.

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