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Face To Face With the Taliban
You’ve got to be kidding me, I said to myself when I understood what was happening. The chaplain and I were making our rounds within a U.S. Army hospital as part of our usual responsibilities during my twelve-month ...

Face to Face with the Taliban

Sgt. Joseph Bills, Chaplain’s Assistant, U.S. Army, Afghanistan (2004–2005); Iraq (2006-2007)

You’ve got to be kidding me, I said to myself when I understood what was happening.

The chaplain and I were making our rounds within a U.S. Army hospital as part of our usual responsibilities during my twelve-month deployment in Afghanistan. We would minister to casualties and the medical staff alike. We had seen charred flesh, broken bodies, missing limbs, every kind of combat injury one can imagine.

But we had never seen this.

In one corner of the hospital, past all the U.S. soldiers suffering injuries, our medical team was diligently working to try to save the life of an Afghani Taliban guy who had inadvertently blown his arms and legs off with his own Improvised Explosive Device (IED). It wasn’t a suicide-bombing this guy had just screwed up and blown himself up.

Blood was everywhere. It seemed like quite a lost cause to me. Yet our doctors were trying to help him, even though this guy had prepared a bomb to blow us up. A known enemy that we knew would gladly kill us all if he got the chance.

What’s the point? I thought. If he dies, that’s one less person we have to worry about hunting in the future. Those things go through your head. It’s kind of hard to have compassion for a terrorist who hurts himself.

But the doctors were operating from a different principle: they were dealing with a human life, and all human life has value. If they could possibly save that life, no matter who it was, that was their duty to use their skills to help and not harm. And one has to realize in the overall big picture that these Taliban were just ignorant and had no idea exactly what they were fighting against.

The doctors worked on that armless, legless Taliban terrorist for a long time. They just couldn’t save him.

Prayer:

Lord, let us not forget that you created all men and women in your image and that each life has worth and dignity.


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