Thursday, November 27, 2014

I'm grateful.

Today I'm grateful that, completely by accident of birth and through no merit of my own, I have a passport that does not require me to return to a war-torn home country and fulfill a military service requirement. One of my students cannot say the same.

Again I find myself eliding details, but one of my students was waiting for a student visa to a Western country; he was taking my class in the meantime. The visa came through, hooray! But since apparently his home country, which his family fled recently to avoid the rising tide of kidnappings in their otherwise peaceful town, has to sign off on the paperwork, he had to return. And since he's turned 18 years old in his time away, upon return, he has to fulfill the one-year military service requirement.

It's unclear to me, and to his classmates (my other students), whether this will be a matter of a bribe + "wink-wink let's call his service requirement fulfilled, shall we?" and he'll be on his way, or whether this boy - boy, really - will find himself on the wrong side of a war very soon. Wrong side, because his family's politics skew towards opposition, but there is no "right" side, of course.

I find myself horrified by the prospect. His prospect. And now I have another former student to add to the list of people in a war-torn country to worry about.


Susanne said...

I love that first paragraph so much. I think of that often - but maybe not enough - as I talk to certain friends who "completely by accident of birth" don't have the same privileges that I do. Of course, they have other wonderful aspects so maybe I shouldn't compare, but it's hard sometimes.

Last year in Paris we met a young South Korean fellow who tagged along with us our first day. He was traveling parts of Europe alone before heading home. I keep up with him on Facebook, and he private messaged me a few months ago letting me know he had to join the army. I could tell he wasn't keen on the idea, but I got the impression it was required.

And I know several Syrians who have prepared for years now to go West to avoid military service.

I'm sorry about your student, and hope he will be well.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Accident of birth. What if our not-so-distant ancestors had done the easier thing and stayed home to suffer in silence, in familiar surroundings? They would have succumbed to steamrolling armies passing through their front yards. They would have become anonymous cannon fodder. They would have been imprisoned behind intangible but indestructible iron bars. They would have practiced their religion in secret, watched loved ones die from backward medical practices, and been extremely careful who they spoke to and what they said.

But, because the chose the hard road, look how we live. I thank Heavenly Father every day for freedoms and often pray for people in other places who I will never meet, but who live in fear and want.

I'm so sorry another young person is caught in a vicious snare. I hope and pray he makes it out to live a fruitful life.

Liz Johnson said...

Oh man. That's just horrible. Please keep us posted if you can.


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