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let my heart be broken by your heartache.

My roommate and I have been making our way through the HBO miniseries from 2001: Band of Brothers. It's an account of E Company of the 101st Airborne, one of the companies in WWII that worked the hardest and saw the most combat. There were there during D-Day, during Bastogne, and made it all the way into Germany and fought the Nazis on their own German territory.

This last episode we watched - the ninth of ten - is titled "Why We Fight," and does its best to answer that question. The men have been fighting the "krauts" - the derogatory name for the Germans - for nearly two years now, and many of them are disillusioned with the hero image that had made many of them join the army in the first place. They have become desensitized to the killing, desensitized to the taking of lives, and are having trouble seeing the people around them as human beings anymore. Shell shock has set in for a few of them, which they handle in either outbursts of anger, drink, or sex, when they can get it. The basic point is: They don't know why they're there any more.

Then they discover why. Out on patrol in Germany, deep in enemy territory, they discover one of the smaller concentration camps. The men cannot believe what they are seeing, and cannot fathom that men would do this to one another. Despite having been involved heavily in the combat, despite having taken many lives themselves, the impact of seeing innocent lives ripped apart and destroyed, simply because of the religion they profess, nearly disables the soldiers. They cannot believe this was happening a few hundreds yards walk from a nice little German town.

And that's the crux: The Germans in the town didn't know. Many of them had no idea that this travesty was being conducted right under their noses, and were as horrified as many of the soldiers when they saw the camp - the soldiers recruited them to help bury the Jewish dead - and the reaction is visibly disturbed.

Now let's fast forward to 2009: Similar travesties are happening, not in isolated pockets, but spread throughout our own backyards and towns. People are being forced into slavery, into working, possibly until they die, by men who see them as less than human, by owners who see dollars when they see another human being. It is the same view that causes tragedies around the world: that one's fellow human being is somehow less than human, somehow matters less because they are not related to you, not a brother or sister or mother or father, at least not in relation to anyone who matters. They are less, somehow, by the separation of time and space from where you sit.

That is the view that gets us into trouble.

We have become far too comfortable with the idea of tragedy. We sit on our comfortable couches, watch an artist's depiction of it, and then turn off the DVD player and walk away, comfortable in our homes, separated from that event by time and space.

We are not separate; we are all a part of the same human race.

That is why I am going to India. That is why I choose to put my hand out to help those in crisis because we can never forget what consequences ignorance and inaction have. That is why I fight.


That said, I can only help in this fight if I have people helping me. That's the other beauty of "Band of Brothers" - they are soldiers who have become a family through their shared experiences. One way you can share in this experience with me is by supporting my trip, both monetarily and prayerfully. As always, the donate button on the left will lead you to a way to donate online, or, if you feel more like doing some snail mail, you can email me at: for my address. Those who donate will get a nice print of one of my photos from the trip after I get back.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for all of your generous help.

1 comment:

  1. For what it's worth, the "we didn't know" plea of many Germans has been much called into question in recent scholarship (such as that of Daniel Goldhagen). I think of a scene Bonhoeffer described, involving a church built near train tracks....

    I'm glad you're taking this on, and as I'm able I hope to help out. We do the good we can--and if I hope against all hope that Christians and their institutions will resist the urge to adopt social causes as a replacement for the still harder work of real evangelization (not quick-fix "soul-winning"), I hope that no effort flowing true from the Good News can fail to bear fruit for Christ's Kingdom.


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