How am I supposed to interpret a war that’s older than me?

When people see news about Afghanistan, what does it trigger? For me, nothing. I don’t know the emotions that people feel when the broadcasts read “Taliban”. It’s just another buzzword that is constantly flowing through the news.  I know the background of what caused this war, but it hasn’t played a big part in my entire life.  

I am the generation that has lived through every part of this war, yet felt none of it. I was born five years after 9/11. I didn’t feel the anger of a country after that fateful day. My generation doesn’t understand the unity that came from fighting a common enemy. However the most searing images of this war happened this week. Hundreds of people surrounding military transport planes, begging to escape their country. It defies logic.

I’m not advocating to put troops back in Afghanistan. I don’t have any expertise to say that. What I can do is look at the human side of the war.

Seeing the utter chaos that is happening in Afghanistan is gut-wrenching. But it’s as much of a moral problem as it is strategic.

What we as Americans do often reverberates throughout the world. It’s our job to set a standard on which we conduct ourselves. Did we exit Afghanistan in a way that didn’t leave people fearing for their lives, women fearing for their basic human rights? Of course, this is an issue that can be examined internally by the hundreds of strategic experts in the military. But how do we also make sure that this never happens again?

My generation might not be able to do anything for the people of Afghanistan right now, but we can help. We need to scrutinize the moral failures of this war to make sure it never happens again. Not a history lesson that make us memorize the names of generals and battlefields. An open discussion that triggers much needed discourse about our moral principles in this country.

The sense of unity that came after 9/11 has been dismantled by polarizing messages that come from our politicians. The unity that came into Afghanistan has been left behind for harsh division. Pushing blame around for past mistakes doesn’t help the present.

Together, we can rebuild the moral framework that goes beyond parties. The morals that make this country special.

This war is shaping the identity of our country. It’s gone from being a noble cause to a horrific part of our national history. The same effect that helped rally people together after the pain of 9/11 has confused younger Americans like me after seeing what happened at the Kabul airport. The sense of “national unity” has been lost beneath polarizing messages and moral shortcomings. It’s our job as young Americans to rediscover it. The change needs to start in my generation.

How we handle this will define the future of the country. Most importantly, it will show the world what it means to be “American”.

Disclaimer: This author has used a pen name and any associations are purely coincidental.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top