The Bigger Question

I was recently asked to answer the “why” question of why I do what I do. And they are right. I have spent a lot of time on the how and the what questions of life here in Afghanistan, but I never have answered the most important question, which is why. Why are we here? Why am I in this desolate wasteland of a country for nine months and missing holidays and other special events?

If you don’t have an answer for the why question for any action you do, the result is pointless. There has to be a purpose behind an action for it to matter. Brad Pitt in the movie Troy puts it this way. “I’ve told you how to fight, dear cousin. But I have not told you why you should fight.” The goal of this installment is to answer that question.

Imagine a sheep herder. He has a lot of sheep to look after. He loves his sheep and does everything he can to protect them. But he cannot do it all. For every time he turns his back to help some of the sheep, wolves with a ferocious appetite strike at the sheep he cannot pay attention to. The farmer, fed up with having his sheep killed for sport and terrorized by the wolves, goes and buys a sheepdog. Let’s make it a German shepherd. He trains the dog to protect the sheep, and to protect them to the end, even if that means laying down his life for those sheep. Protecting the sheep is the pride and joy of the dog. He has no quarrel with the sheep, and thinks of them all as his family. He looks out for them and protects them, and the sheep in turn enjoy no longer having to worry about the wolf coming in the night and terrorizing them. They sleep soundly at night while the dog keeps watch, listening, smelling, and watching for the wolf to come. And when the wolf does come, the dog steps up and challenges the wolf. They battle back and forth, until one of them is the winner and the other is dead.

That is why I am here. The American people are sheep. They are used to living their lives and do not care to be bothered with anything but their lives. I am speaking generally here. There are some who care about the well-being of others, and use their gifts to help their fellow sheep. The sheep need protecting. As a whole, they are defenseless against the wolves that linger at the door, waiting for night to come so that they can come and take what they want.

The wolf is obviously the enemy. The United States has always had enemies throughout our history. We have the most freedoms of any country in history, and some people do not like that and want to see us fall. The wolf right now is the radical Islamic terrorists who would rather see the whole world either converted to the Muslim tradition or dead for their infidelity. When asked why I put myself through the stress of the army and why I spend all this time training, it is because my job is peace. And sometimes, peace cannot be achieved without a sacrifice of men and a tidal wave of hero’s blood. That is why I am a sheepdog. I protect the sheep and chase the wolves. I keep watch in the night so you can sleep soundly and wake up free. But to provide this level of protection to you all, I must sacrifice. My desires, my goals, my body, and my time. It hurts me to not be able to drive home and spend the holidays with my family. To miss a birthday. To not be there to support my family as they live their lives. But I would do it all again because I love them. For those I love, I will sacrifice. And that is why I am here.

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