Death is not a tragedy. A wasted
life is. Don't get me wrong.
Life has value all by itself. This isn't about abortion, capital
punishment, stem cell research, or vegetarianism. From single
cell bacteria to your own children, life has value. It means
something. It wants to keep on living. It gets one chance to
participate in the circle; one chance to shout at the moon and
echo through the ages.
Though we are born with value, we give life real meaning and
purpose by the way we live. At the end, we get to look back and
see where and how we made a difference. Erik Erikson labeled the
final stage of life maturation ego integrity vs. despair. We
to believe that we did some good; that we accomplished something
meaningful, perhaps even more important than our own lives--
something that will transcend our deaths and mark our place in
the universe; or we feel an existential despair from which we
cannot return. For people like Einstein or Bill Gates, this is
easy. For the rest of us, it's a little more subtle.
I don't know that I am a Christian, a Muslim, or a Jew. I attend
a Presbyterian church a half dozen times a year. But I always
attend at Easter and Christmas. There is something enriching,
universal, and powerful about the cycle of birth and death along
with the primitive, archetypal belief that in some way we can
transcend death. I believe that life has transcendent meaning
when there is something more important than death and by
extension our own lives.
And so we come to Iraq. It matters not what you think of the war
in Iraq. I think it's a horribly misguided enterprise driven by
the "war on terror" and a president who looked America in the
and lied to us, not the first or the last to do so. George Bush
will end up just a blip in American History, but not so for our
Armed Forces. They transcend Tweedle Dum. The red, white, and
blue of the American flag doesn't simply stand for freedom, but
the willingness to fight for freedom, to die for freedom, so our
children's childrens' children will have the opportunity for
life, liberty, and a fair chance at happiness. The Armed Forces
stand proud and resolute as perfect symbols of that principle.
What the Armed Forces do is at the pleasure of the current
president, the commander-in-chief. But their underlying
is forever. Whether in the glorious rightness of World War's I
and II or the mire of moral paralysis that was Vietnam, the
Forces embody the best in all of us; loyalty, decency, a
commitment to fighting for freedom, and true bravery defined by
"integrity in action." They make their lives and so their deaths
meaningful. They live a principle that transcends the petty
machinations of political parties, so that we can make our
This holiday season, as with all others, we will spend some time
reflecting on our lives, making plans for the coming year, and
maybe getting back in touch with what's really important, things
like health and family. You can look back on the blur of the
year and wonder how it passed so quickly. You can think about
your core values and whether or not you're living up to them.
Therein lies meaning and purpose; having a code of honor and
living in accordance.
The Armed Forces have a powerful code of honor, and by God and
country they live in accordance. From Corporal Roberto Abad to
Lance Corporal Robert Zurheide there are 1,256 heroes who must
now live on in our memories. Sometime this holiday, during one
our toasts, let's honor the men and women who will never again
home with their families as well as those who will. Please go to
maybe toast one particular hero by name.
Corporal Abad stood on a wall in the dark and cold beside a
fallen comrade and said, "I won't let them hurt you. Not
Not on my watch. You can sleep safe, now. All secure, Sir."
God bless America and God bless our Armed Forces. May their
holidays and yours be safe and warm.
Light and Love,
Dr. Tim Sams
My Sacred Journey
Copyright 2004. Dr. Tim Sams. All rights reserved.
We encourage links to this article by
Dr. Tim Sams. If you would like to link to this page from your
web site or blog, please feel free to use the HTML code provided
in the box below.
Download the article, "Iraq and the Code of
Honor" by Dr. Tim Sams.</a>