Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Person v. role

A Smart Person has pointed out that a new contingent of Australian troops will be heading to Iraq soon - they had an official farewell in Darwin last week.

In that context, I suddenly see my previous post and its comments in a disturbing new light. You might think our friend B is heading off with those troops, and we’re all yelling things like "Have fun!" "Have a great trip!" and even "Have a great tour of duty!" as he goes. No no no! Not Iraq! Not Iraq! He's on a far more peaceful type of tour.

Still, just imagine for a minute that B is one of those troops, that he is heading off to Iraq. Imagine he signed up to the Defence Force years ago for admirable reasons (such as the desire to protect his country). Imagine that he doesn’t support the war and will have to go anyway. Or to complicate matters, imagine that he does support the war, and wants to go.

What would that mean for us, his friends, supporting the person, but opposing his role? Is there a way to resolve a conflict like that? I'm guessing not. Friends and family of those troops must be going through their own battles, quite apart from coping with the absence of loved ones and dread that it might be permanent. They, more than the rest of us, have to cope with something terrible: this bad war uses good people.