Monday, June 2, 2014

Why the Need to Defame?

Why is it that no matter what a person does, what extraordinary feat a person accomplishes, what horrific experiences a person endures, is it always necessary to spotlight something negative about him or her? Perhaps in finding fault, the person who does nothing, accomplishes little, and never suffers extreme pain or loss, can boast that their actions have never warranted criticism. What they fail to realize is that they've done nothing!

A soldier returns home from Afghanistan after being abducted and held captive for five years. This young man has undoubtedly been deprived of food, water, and most importantly his freedom. Assuredly he's been subjected to physical and mental torture by the Taliban. He has little to no contact with the outside world especially his family. His health is terribly compromised.

Then one day his country comes to his rescue and negotiates his release in exchange for five known terrorists. Although some may think such a bargain too high, what exactly is the right price for a man's life?

In our local paper, the headlines revealed that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Iowa was most likely AWOL on June 30, 2009 at the time of his capture. Bummer, right? All of our elation and admiration for a twenty-three year old who went through such a terrible ordeal for five years has certainly been misplaced. The only thing such a coward deserves is our ridicule and disdain. Right?

After all, Sgt. Bergdahl admittedly criticized the military for lacking in leadership, caring little for the plight of the Afghan people, even going so far as to bully both soldiers and townsfolk for no reason. He says the U.S. Army is a joke. What kind of soldier rebukes his superiors and fellow servicemen in such a vile manner? Perhaps five years in Taliban captivity is exactly what this ingrate deserved. Right?

Wrong, and wrong! On the night in question, Bowe completed his surveillance duties and then asked if it would be a problem if he took his rifle and gear when he walked away from the outpost. Of course he was told that indeed it would be a problem.

At age twenty-three, Sgt. Bergdahl became disillusioned with the military he had once committed himself to much like becoming aware of an unfaithful wife who cared little for him and the dreams they'd once shared.
About 50% of the marriages in the U.S. end in divorce without societal rebuke.

Does the town newspaper headline the couple's split, highlighting her failure to keep the house clean, or his propensity to spend money on fast cars? Is their dirty laundry plastered across the front page so that we now view these two as unworthy of our sympathy? If jailed for their misconduct, would we rail against their release? I highly doubt it.

Certainly going AWOL was a serious mistake in judgement. But in this case, I believe Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has paid a high price for his misconduct. Five years held by terrorists, tortured and abused, deprived of his very freedom was cruel and unusual punishment for his offense. He's finally home now, and deserves our understanding and compassion, not our ridicule and disdain. Let's rally around this soldier and his family and try to give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, he enlisted to serve his country, to bring peace to a war-torn, God-forsaken land even though it meant putting himself in harm's way.

This person did something, accomplished much, and endured pain and loss. Right? Why the need to defame?