When a Man is a Hero - A True Story
In the hills of Palo Alto above Stanford University, a walking path meanders to the viewpoint at the top. It was near sunset when the Hubwriter and his partner made their way up the trail.
Weary from the day, they sat on a knoll and watched joggers, speed walkers and strollers as they pushed ahead to the overlook. One woman they did not know gave a greeting in passing.
She continued several paces then paused. They could see her consider. Then she turned around and came back.
“I’m sorry,” she started. “I just have a feeling I have to talk with you.”
The writer and his partner invited her to sit with them. She had the dark hair, eyes and complexion of a Persian. At first her talk was about a recent happening in her life. They had a feeling she wasn’t sure yet what she needed to say.
The Energy Shifted
Then, the energy between and around the three shifted. The couple listened intently as she went into telling a story about one of her cousins in Iran.
He had been drafted into the military during a war with Iraq. While being trained to shoot and kill the ‘enemy,’ he reflected on it within himself.
His thoughts went to the families of the enemy soldiers, and what it would be like for them if he killed one of their men. How could he live with himself, knowing the grief he had brought upon them?
“If it were not for the geography and politics,” he considered, “I might share a beer with the man I am supposed to shoot.”
Then he was sent into battle. On his way to the front line, the thoughts kept swirling in his head. In the midst of a conflict, he found himself pointing his weapon at an Iraqi soldier, who also had him in his sights. They were close enough to see each others’ faces.
The Iranian made a choice in that moment and refused to kill another man. He did not shoot, and was shot. The bullet hit him in the shoulder and he went down.
From his hospital bed, he told the whole story to his cousin – the woman who was now telling it to the writer.
He added, “I do not blame the Iraqi. He was only doing what he was ordered to do. He could have killed me. He could have aimed for my heart. We were close enough, and he had me in his sights. I think he deliberately hit my shoulder so I would not die.”
After hearing this story on the grassy knoll, the writer and his partner were encompassed in golden light as they had at other times in their lives. They recognized that the universe was acknowledging the compassion and understanding of the soldier’s life-affirming choice. He had risen above the programming of his cultural environment and acted on his own truth of what he knew was right.
Moved by the story, the Hubmaker wrote it into a rhyme.
A Soldier’s Choice - The Story in Poem
A man was called by duty to fight his country's war,
a war between two governments, not on a distant shore.
No, this war was with a neighbor, with people like his own
and the leaders made a battlefield of their hearth and home.
The army drafted him and told him he must kill
the soldiers of the enemy, and for him this was no thrill.
His thoughts were of the men, the soldiers he would fight
and of the ones they loved, on them a death would bite.
They have sons and daughters like the dear ones that he knew,
and they would grieve their father's loss if he did what he must do.
The feared, attacking soldiers that he was told to kill
have also wives and mothers whose hearts would be most ill
if he shot and killed their men, even though in self-defense
and there would be no turning back, no way of recompense.
He felt his inner conflict ‘til he was face to face
with another soldier and then there was no space
to avoid this confrontation, he could only look inside.
It was his moment of decision, there was no place to hide.
In the heated battle, they saw each other’s eyes
and something in one soldier knew, it is more than blood that ties.
He saw that fighting’s not the way, there surely is another,
and the soldier from the Persian land refused to shoot his brother.
The Iraqi fighter shot him and the bullet went in deep,
but he lived to tell the story, and their mothers would not weep.
From the bed of his recovery, with family gathered round,
the young man told his story of the treasure he had found.
It came from seeing clearly the Iraqi soldier's face
and awakening to awareness that in another time and place
the two men could be closest friends and share a mug of beer.
It was religion and the politics that had fed their fear.
Should we choose to serve those abusers of their power?
If it's not time to take a stand, then when will be the hour?
The soldier from Iran who took a bullet to the shoulder
is a message to all people to have courage, to be bolder
and make choices that are true and that will give new birth
to hope for all humanity, with acts of peace on earth.
More to the Story
When Ali, the Iranian, told the story from his bed,
he reflected on the soldier who could have shot him dead.
“The other man in combat did what he was told to do,
I don’t blame him for his action, to his orders he was true.
“I am sure that in himself he would have made another choice
than to hurt a human being, but he felt without a voice.”
“We saw each other’s eyes and he could have hit my heart,
but he intended to not kill me, and for peace that is a start.”
As all about him listened to the story Ali told,
I saw the spark of living truth in this man is bold
and wondered what would happen if each person saw the same
and the higher human values each human sought to claim.