14 September 2009


I was heading into the city today for a class on Jewish social ethics.

At the Grand Army Plaza subway station, waiting on the stairs above the platform, was a young soldier, dressed casually but carrying a U.S. Mililtary issue duffel bag and backpack, in camouflage green. He was young. Very young.

I asked for his name, shook his hand and asked, "Shipping out?"

"Yes, sir," he answered. "To Iraq." After a brief pause he added, "Today."

Same train, entirely different destinations.

I got his name and wished him well.

When I arrived in the city, traffic was blocked by the NYPD all around a small restaurant on West Third Street in the Village where President Obama and President Clinton were having lunch, his speech on Wall Street already over. As far as the eye could see, police protection--normal for any president but I was grateful in particular for the protection offered President Obama, given the horrifying rage that has come to dominate our political discourse. In some states in these United States, people show up with guns to greet the President. Thank God that's not the case in New York City.

My mind wandered back to the young soldier, alone on the platform in Brooklyn, heading off to war--unprotected. And our President, out for a meal, protected by an army of the NYPD and the Secret Service.

Walking to class, I said quietly:

"To the young soldier whose name I'll remember, I wish you well in your mission. Go in peace and return to your family and friends here in Brooklyn, in peace.

To the President, with so many burdens to bear, I wish you well in your mission and the honorable service you give to our nation. Go in peace and return to your family and friends in Washington and Chicago in peace."

You can actually do that in New York and no one will bother you. The city does have its advantages.


Anonymous said...

"Go in peace..."

What does that mean?

Peace of mind? You've made a choice to be on this mission? Be at peace with your choice?

That your mission be peaceful?

Why does the President get "honorable service you give to our nation" but the young soldier does not?

And what meaning do you find in the fact that the your post on FB, from the article by Eldar from Haaritz regarding peace:

"In line with that concept, the peace process must be advanced slowly, if at all, and always with Israel's domestic considerations."
talks, "in any matter" should be pursued by Israel.

Peace? Are we really promoting it to our best ability? Human beings accepting other human beings for whom they are and not because they've been forced via war and killing to take on the view of a peaceful surrender.

I write this with much respect and as a conversation not any type of accusation.

Jeff Neubauer

Andy Bachman said...

Jeff---I mean to paraphrase the traditional Hebrew blessing to go and return safely.

With regard to Eldar, Eldar is suggesting that often having to "go through Israel" can slow down progress.

He'll be here at CBE on October 24th.