by Brian Lamar, Assignment Editor
An Existential crisis, also known as existential dread is a moment in a person’s life where they question if their lives have meaning, purpose or value. It is sometimes, tied to depression or inevitably negative speculations on one’s purpose in life such as the futility of all effort (e.g., “if one day I will be forgotten, what is the point of all of my work?”).
I joined the Army in 1998 because my friends did. I wasn’t too interested in college right out of high school and I let my running buddy convince me that the Army was the place for me. Clinton was in office and the country was relatively at peace. Then 9/11 happened and we subsequently invaded Afghanistan and a few other places.
I was sent to Afghanistan in early 2002. It was the Wild West back then. I watched with awe as we began construction of bases around the country and wrestled control of the country out of the clutches of the Taliban. The Taliban were simply not good people. They were ruthless zealots who oppressed their society with brute force and terror. Evidence of this terror was still lurking everywhere when I arrived and began moving about the country.
On my third deployment/assignment to Afghanistan, I befriended my interpreter named Fahim Ahmady. Fahim and I became as close as brothers during my tour. One day, Fahim was translating a press conference I was in charge of and a National Afghan camera failed to crop him out of the image. He was recognized and threatening letters began to occur. Realizing his terror and danger, I hatched a plan to get him out of the country. My plan worked. I used every ounce of pull I could find through favors and politicking. I got Fahim out. He came to the U.S. Soon, he decided to join the Marine Corps. I eventually lost touch with Fahim, but I think often of his mother and siblings who were left behind.
Lately, I have been thinking about all the Afghans who helped us along the way and what their fate is now. More so, I have been thinking of the families of the service members I served with who gave their eyesight, limbs, and lives for the cause. I was lucky. I spent about three years total in that country and even learned to speak a good bit of Dari. I left with just a couple of scars that can barely be seen anymore.
As we pull out of this conflict, the existential dread I feel is powerful. I see cities and provinces falling to the Taliban in a matter of hours. Before we got there, the education system had been completely destroyed for decades. Higher learning had been revitalized. Basic human rights had been restore in many places. I feel that this will be reversed in short order.
I felt pride in helping a society come back from the Stone Age. Only to see it slip back into that cultural black hole again.
There will be manhunts for those who dared help get things back on track. There will be mass executions of those who resist. There will be blood. Carnage and chaos for years to come.
I ask myself why? Why did I devote so much of my life to the cause that was always destined to fail? I guess the answer is hope. I grew up with tales of guys like John Wayne and John Rambo who put the baddies in their place. What I am watching on the world stage now is what the movies don’t tell you when the credits begin to roll.
Some parts of the world should maybe just be left to be what it is going to be and maybe Americans should now learn this lesson and just focus on our own domestic issues.
Stop spending American’s lives, time, and money on wars that will serve no purpose. This is a call to all readers to write to your congressperson and let them know that this sort of 20-year debacle should be avoided at all costs in the future. Let’s keep Americans out of harm’s way for a world that doesn’t deserve our help.
I am not saying we shouldn’t help people in need, but it is absolutely the case that Americans here are in need. The democrats and the Republicans are the left and right wings of the same vulture. Stop trusting the establishment and think for yourself. Stop letting fear guide your vote.