The Common Good

'He May or May Not Have Been the Bomb-maker'

The Cost of War

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He may or may not have been the bomb-maker.

Did it matter, now that I stood in front of his body, still connected to tubes and vents and drips, but a body that had already breathed its last?

No, it didn't really matter. I stepped to the bed and laid a hand on his still-warm forehead and prayed. I had always wondered if I would know what to say. And as I opened my mouth, I realized I didn't need to know what to say. If ever the Holy Spirit interceded for me, it was then.

"Oh God, as first you gave this life to us, so now we give him back to you. You know the secrets of our hearts and we pray that this soul may find peace with you. Amen."

The med techs and nurses began to clean the body as I went to get the kaffan, the traditional Muslim burial cloth. We can't-and don't-perform the ritual Islamic washing here in the American hospital in Afghanistan, but we do try to prepare the body as best we can for the family. In some small way, the hospital staff tries to make a difference; though they could not save this man's life, they can at least return the body with some degree of respect and dignity. It is the right thing to do. It just might also save someone else's life down the line.

Because he may or may not have been the bomb-maker. Whether he was or not, the exploding bomb killed him. And as his brother hovered nearby in the ICU, I thought about our small part in the cycle of violence that just maybe had a chance to be broken right here, this very moment.

If he was the bomb-maker, would his brother go home and say, "Even though he planned to kill them, the Americans still tried to save his life

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