Just past 6am and I have already had waaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy to much coffee.
As it should be. The cave is warm. The mad kitten has tired herself out and is sprawled. Work is halfway done so I will be able to concentrate on the next two articles and, I get to take a long bus ride today and think on things the way I am prone to do.
Lance Corporal Murfit, of the 2nd Royal Tank Regimen, is a very lucky man. He was shot in the head in Afghanistan recently but it hit his helmet and he survived. Which is good for him, his wife and his one year old son.
But that is not why I am mentioning Murfit this morning. I am bringing him up and sharing his story because for all the things that are wrong in the world, and especially, all the complex wrongs involved with war – L/Cpl Murfit is one of the rare things that goes right.
In the course of duty, Murfit wound up facing off with an insurgent. The insurgent grabbed a small girl and used her as a human shield. Murfit, bound by the Geneva convention, refused to shoot for fear of endangering the civilian and instead, was shot himself.
It takes a kind of power of character to be in that kind of situation and not shoot, not use force, out of recognition that for whatever your purpose and justifications for being armed and being in combat, that the combat does not include all people. The Geneva convention was designed to prevent non-combatants from being harmed in what was recognized (but not directly stated) was actually the business of the employees of war. It would be like Fed Ex drivers pulling up to a school and forcing children to carry 60 lb package deliveries without it. The Geneva convention laid down some rules and said, in the name of Humanity, only those who agree to kill and to die should be in the path of killing and dying.
Now, I could wax along quite poetically about the insanity of all that but I will leave it be because that would detract from the recognition that L/Cpl Murfit deserves for what he did.
The same way that those 6 or 7 Royal Marines who just ran across the US to raise money for disabled veterans deserve to be honored separately from any discussion about the whosis-whatsis of the whole war issue. Those Marines who ran, did so without having been runners before and one of them was a triple amputee.
They were a bit disappointed with how much money they raised, but acknowledged that times were hard.
We don’t, in our armchair debates, recognize enough the people who – within their frameworks – do what they are called upon to do to protect another life at the risk of their own. We don’t pause to say – “My God, I know its what you are supposed to do but my god, good job!” Particularly in situations in which that person’s life is threatened as well.
While I have great and strong opinions about police and armies et al, it never stops me from also recognizing the danger that these men and women place themselves in to protect me, protect you, and always to try and do so to try and protect the person they are trying to protect everyone from. There are bad eggs everywhere. There is a lot wrong with our approach to protection. But we should never lose sight of the people who live within what exists, who place their lives on the line everyday so that those of us in safety can bitch and argue about how wrong it is they have a job to do.
L/Cpl Murfit, to me, even though he was doing what he was duty-bound to do, is a hero because I know, from having served myself in a combat designated area that what is written on paper in no way matches what happens in real life. While it would be nice to say that it was the Geneva Convention and his training that allowed him to make the choices that he did, I suspect that it had more to do with who he is as a person. A strong and good and compassionate man.
c.2010. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.