Requiem for Heroes

Civilized society should be mournful, outraged and screaming at the top of our lungs;  but we’re not. We sit, read the paper, and numbly

Dr. Tom Little - hero

 digest the vilest evil our world has to offer.  “Hey honey, pass the orange juice”.

The recent murders of 10 medical relief workers in Afghanistan by the Taliban has me in a tailspin in terms of where society’s threshold for tolerance and politically correct silence has taken us. As I finish each online article I scan the readers comments and have my question answered; we haven’t reached bottom yet.

“They knew what they were getting into”; “they shouldn’t have been there”; “they were stupid”, and the ubiquitous “bring the troops home”. Blah, blah, blah. Barely a word about their dedication, bravery, and yes; heroism.

My response is; that’s absolutely correct. They knew what they were getting themselves into, maybe they shouldn’t have been where they were, and no rational person would do what they do. But isn’t that what makes a hero, a hero. Some of us might get the opportunity to do something heroic just once in a lifetime. Tom Little put himself in this position over and over again for 40 years. We should be lauding all of them, their lives, and their work and yet society sees it as just another current event.

One of the biggest problems with civilized society is that in our comfort we become disengaged from bad things and cynical about the good. When we do recognize pure human evil we tend to grant excuses or develop rationale. Conversely, when we witness instances of altruism we immediately look for some invisible ulterior motive.

There was no rationale, excuses or ulterior motives on a remote road outside of Kabul last week. Our heroes were a dentist, a nurse, child care specialist, surgeon, and optometrist heading home to Kabul after a two week eye clinic in a remote region of the backwards hellhole which they loved. Us comfortable folk know it simply as Afghanistan. They were accompanied by a translator, videographer, cook and a driver. Their group, the International Assistance Mission has a documented 40 year history of providing medical care for Afghans  What becomes tragically ironic is that with only a 44 year life expectancy for a male Afghan, it is quite possible that team members were gunned down by someone they had helped earlier in life.   

This is a tragedy not unlike one that occurred in 1956 when a team of five missionaries were speared to death in the jungle of Ecuador by a tribe of Aucan Indians which they had made inroads to befriend and help. Interestingly, Time magazine was so bold as to call the Aucas “the worst people on earth”. Time further described them as,

…. “A pure Stone Age people, they hate all strangers, live only to hunt, fight and kill. Even their neighbors, the Jivaros, famous for shrinking human heads, live in constant fear of the fierce Aucas”.

One doubts whether Time would be so bold in a similar description these days however 54 years later we could simply repeat the story and change the names and locale. With the exception of their weaponry, the Taliban are a Stone Age people, they hate all strangers, live only to fight and kill. Even the locals, especially women, live in constant fear of the fierce Taliban.

But there went our world class heroes. Altruistic, wary yet undaunted, humble, and anonymous; until last week. We now know this group of humanitarian heroes that paid the ultimate price as: Dr. Tom Little, Dr. Dan Terry, Dr. Thomas Grams, Dr. Karen Woo, Glen Lapp, LPN, Brian Carderelli, Cheryl Beckett, and Daniela Beyer, and Afghans Mahram Ali, and Jawed.

Well done team. You are heroes. You are distinguished by your selflessness and have represented your mission, fellow humanitarians, God, and faith well. I am one American that will remember your work.

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One Response

  1. This is terrific Scott. I didn’t know about this because of being on holiday in seclusion at the time, but I will not forget these people because of you piece.

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