There’s an old proverb that I have found fits many situations: “It is a noble thing to try to help an elephant to its feet, but, it is a foolish thing to try to catch an elephant when it’s falling.” For 20 years, two generations, we have poured lives, arms, treasure, and training into Afghanistan and its leaders who said they believed in our values. Certainly, many of the Afghan people do. But, what happened when they were called upon to show how much they wanted democracy? They threw their/our weapons down and fled or surrendered, knowing full well what would happen when they did.

Yes, it became a tragic, bloody, stupid, deadly disaster. Were we naively sure that, of course, people will fight for their own freedom? Obviously, and we were wrong. Is our intelligence system so bad that nobody, our people or any of the Afghans we have worked with and supported for 20 years, had a clear sense of what was about to happen? Looks like it, but, most of their supposed military made their decision immediately. They knew what they would do.

Will this say to the world that we won’t honor our commitments or will the world think we try too hard and too long and are too optimistic and too proud and full of ourselves to understand some other cultures?

We did nobly try very, very hard, without, unfortunately, recognizing that the elephant, maybe even because it was us who was trying to help, would never be able to stand on its own. We shouldn’t be ashamed of our values and efforts and sacrifice. But, we should learn.

Rev. Gerard Weiss