Death of a Soldier For Peace

A Soldier for Peace

I was listening to talk show host Pete Wilson yesterday on KGO discussing the torture and murder of a man named Tom Fox in Iraq. To refresh your memory, Tom Fox was not a soldier. He was a 54-year-old Quaker from Virginia who was in Iraq as part of a small peacekeeping organization called the Christian Peacekeeping Team. Wilson was asking the question “Do the Tom Fox’s of the world really do any good?”

He was quick to admit that they mean well. “Of course we all want peace,” Wilson said, “But did Tom Fox and others like him end up accomplishing anything or did he end up perhaps doing more harm than good?”

I’m not sure how a man who stood for peace was doing more harm than good, unless he meant that his death would incline us to be more aggressive in taking revenge on the people who killed him. But the question of whether Tom Fox accomplished anything by risking his life in Iraq is a good question.

If, like Pete Wilson, you are a left brained kind of person who pretty much lives in your head, the answer is clear. No, people like Tom Fox are mere irritants. They get in the way of people who see life as it is. For some people and some nations, the only effective way to overcome the sob’s of this world is to go to war and destroy them, so the rest of us can live in peace. Of course, I might add that humankind has been trying this method for centuries, without a lot of success. But the question remains. Did this guy DO anything productive by being in Iraq? Or, in fact, was his life ultimately a waste? Did his standing with love and compassion for people suffering through this terrible war change anything at all?

I submit that none of us are in a position to judge that. How do we know the value of any person’s life? If all life is truly connected, as I believe it is, then this 54-year-old Quaker who believed so passionately in the brotherhood and sisterhood of our human race did have an impact. He did not die in vain anymore that our troops who, in good faith, are doing what they believe is right, die in vain. A talk show host is free to brand him as just another bleeding heart nut that found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and got himself killed. But, I don’t buy that. Not for a moment.

My own conviction is that the Tom Fox’s of the world are here to remind us there is a spiritual dimension to life, that violence is not the only way to answer violence, that people like Fox are bearing witness to the power of love over hate, forgiveness over revenge. He believed so strongly in the power of love that he was willing to lay down his life for that belief.

Here was one of us, an ordinary guy who figured out for himself that after all these centuries, it’s time we tried another way of solving our problems than by going to war. I submit that a lot of us agree with him but this man was willing to go further. Tom Fox was willing to take one for team humanity, to stand tall for his beliefs. Others can dismiss him as a dreamer. I call him an American hero. As I write this, the number of American soldiers killed in the Iraqi war stands at 2,309. As an American, I am grateful for their valor and pray for their families. I do the same for Tom Fox, because for me, he was a soldier for peace.