Saturday, October 28, 2006

Shoeboxes for Soldiers

My son's Cub troop is being asked to fill two shoeboxes with little gifts to send to the 50 soldiers from our city who are stationed in Afghanistan over Christmas. The troop leader is retired military, and so is her husband. They're very nice people -- and living in a military town, you get used to being around soldiers. In fact, two members of our meeting are soldiers. In her eyes, this is just a nice gesture to do for people who are far away from home.

However, there is the rather significant problem that I can't support this Afghanistan mission, nor do I think it's going to succeed. Two other parents are in the same uncomfortable situation -- that I know of. The majority of Canadians have never been behind this mission, so the likelihood that other parents feel as I do is high.

However, the other side is that soldiers are simply human beings, stuck in a wretched situation. There is the issue of "that of God" in those soldiers as well. Does it do harm to send them some gifts? Also, I don't want to single out my kid from the troop as the one who wouldn't support the project, nor do I want to offend the troop leader, who is trying to get the group to do a "good deed."

We are being asked to send things like gum, candy, shaving tools, Tim Hortons coupons (I guess they had to open a Tim Hortons in Kandahar for the Canadian soldiers to deal with doughnut deprivation -- go figure), wet naps, used paperbacks, jerky, febreeze, chapstick, and then add a message of support.

I don't really know how to handle this.

I'm open to suggestions.

11 Comments:

At 10:33 PM, Blogger Robin M. said...

One possibility is that you could send some supplies to the soldiers stuck in Afghanistan, and then you could send an equal amount of things to the civilian families suffering in Afghanistan. You might even include little things that a soldier might share with a child in Afghanistan - like crayons and paper or very small socks.

The message could include things like we hope you like these gifts, that you are getting to know the locals and that you come home soon.

 
At 5:05 PM, Blogger Mark Wutka said...

Nancy,
For some reason, I thought of prison visitation when I read your message. When you visit someone in prison, you are not suggesting that you support whatever the person is imprisoned for, you are simply providing human contact for another human being.
I worry that too much emphasis on political stances blinds us to the humanity of those we do not agree with. Jesus' admonition to love our enemies is a call to see beyond political and ideological boundaries, and to respond to that person as a child of God.
I do not know what I would write as a message of support if I were doing this, I trust that the Holy Spirit would guide me, and that I would answer that of God in the other person.
With love,
Mark

 
At 5:11 PM, Blogger earthfreak said...

I have thought about this too.

No one I know is spearheading such a project, and yet I find myself thinking of the soldiers in the middle east with sympathy (like you, not for their cause, but for their distance from loved ones and their "regular lives")


I agree with Mark, that one can support the human being without supporting the situation that they find themselves in. I like Robin's suggestion for a "message of support" and I assume that you could find your own appropriate words.

I think it would also be important for me to teach my kids (who are at this point still theoretical) that this doens't mean we support the war, or war at all.

I also like Robin's suggestion about sending support to civlians who live in afghanistan, though I worry about sending soldiers items to give to children - it feels to me as if that sort of practice (giving gum to local children) is a tactic of occupying forces, to confuse loyalties and such. I would try to send support through an aid agency that isn't tied to the military, to avoid such confusion.

peace
Pam

 
At 6:33 PM, Blogger david said...

Nancy. Does thy son have an opinion on such matters? Just a thought.

Mind you, I was the one who got called out on the carpet by my Scout leader for putting "Druid" down on the application form as my religious affiliation. Oh, those were the days!

BTW, does thee need a support group in this matter? Is thee aware of Friends Committee on Scouting?

I became aware of this when soemone in Toronto (now among the blessed) insisted that conscientious Friends would boycott the Santa Claus Parade as its an exercise in paramilitary display.

 
At 7:49 AM, Blogger Nancy A said...

Hi - great suggestions, everyone! It's given me a mental picture of how to handle this request.

I did go to the Friends Committee on Scouting page, but there was very little on the page. I wonder if it's defunct.

 
At 9:51 PM, Blogger Linda said...

I'm really glad you posted about this. I think we liberal quakers get a little too, well, smug, about certain issues, so honest wrangling with a dilemma is refreshing to me.
For what it's worth, a member of our meeting first learned about quakers when he was a soldier in Vietnam. A book about quakers was in a box of books sent to the troops.

 
At 12:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We often arrive at the wrong answers because we ask the wrong questions. This is a learning opportunity for your son. Giving a gift to someone in need is a demonstration of compassion. This is a good lesson for a boy. Your personal opinions about the mission aren't really relevant. They are however mature concerns that you may want to explore for yourself. The important thing is that this event is happening to your son, not to you. Support him in his efforts. When he is older, you may want to share the misfeelings this caused in you. For now though, focus entirely on his experience. If you feel he is learning a valuable lesson, then let him learn it.

 
At 12:06 AM, Blogger Amenenhet said...

We often arrive at the wrong answers because we ask the wrong questions. This is a learning opportunity for your son. Giving a gift to someone in need is a demonstration of compassion. This is a good lesson for a boy. Your personal opinions about the mission aren't really relevant. They are however mature concerns that you may want to explore for yourself. The important thing is that this event is happening to your son, not to you. Support him in his efforts. When he is older, you may want to share the misfeelings this caused in you. For now though, focus entirely on his experience. If you feel he is learning a valuable lesson, then let him learn it.

 
At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

MY SON just returned from Afghanistan-war is AWFUL, two wrongs do not make a right-but when my boy has to UNWRAP a piece of candy so a young girl may eat it quickly or else risk any male from slapping her and taking it before she can eat a silly jolly rancher---when my son works 14 hour days to rebuild roads-schools open clinics...the damage the TALIBAN did not 'us'. If you can imagine a country that is now in the dark ages where a mere generation before was a thriving country...we do many GOOD and even GREAT works in countries I would rather our SOLDIERS were not at. Some deodorant, beef jerky, soap, and throat lozenges are not sending bullets. Sun screen and bug spray to a man or woman working to bring the world to a BETTER place is not the same as agreeing with a gov't's policy. Consider looking into anysoldier.com and reading what the kids need to comfort the civilians...

 
At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son is leaving for Afghanistan in january & I find it disheartening that so many people have so few good things to say about the good things the soldiers have been doing there for years. It's ironic that the people in Afghanistan are more appreciative than the people in his own country.

 
At 4:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!

 

Post a Comment

<< Home