Love in War

March 8, 2017

Personal Growth

I have a close friendship with a man who once fought in a regiment tasked with keeping the peace during the peak of civil violence in Northern Ireland. His regiment was trained not to regard everyone as an enemy, so they treated the civilian population in a friendly way. It was not uncommon for these troops to say to the woman tending her flowers on the corner, “Mornin’ love. How’s the day?”

The woman would then respond, “Want a cup o’ tea, dear?”

“Thanks,” said the soldier, “but I’m workin’ here, making sure nobody gets killed. Maybe later.”

Sometimes the middle-aged woman would even nod toward a young man running down an alley and say things like, “I wouldn’t go down that street right now, love. Maybe later.”

During my friend’s one-year tour in Northern Ireland, there were no casualties in his regiment. He said he was intimately familiar with two other regiments tasked with the same goals as his, but their training was much more aggressive, as was their attitude toward the locals. Routinely they were condescending and hostile to the lady tending her flowers, as well as toward her spouse and children. These two regiments experienced the worst casualty rates in the history of British military occupation of Northern Ireland.

It turns out that love is the best approach everywhere: with spouses, children, employees . . . and even in war.

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