It’s A Small World After All!
News is history shot on the wing.
I am not a journalist in any sense of the word. I am merely one woman who began a rather extraordinary adventure in 2011 and who has made a decision to share my heart and mind with you as I make this journey. Discovering faith when you thought it was lost is quite an amazing and rather humbling experience. It has become even more special since it has served to connect me to a group of very disparate people, all of whom I am now lucky enough to call friends. They are you all and the many people whose lives I touch through a social media site I am active on.
These friends hail from every continent except for Antarctica. and include at least one person from a country that has been in the news recently because of the internal political strife its people find themselves embroiled in. I hope that the person from Syria who has read my posts is OK. I have no way of knowing because I do not know more about them except that they have shared my thoughts. And it is to them that I have decided to share this essay that appeared on the Facebook page of Austin Tice, a law student and former US Marine, who had chosen to embed within Syria and to share his experiences with McClatchy, the Washington Post and other media outlets.
Austin’s Twitter and Facebook feed are now silent. Austin has not been heard from for the last two years. He was sharing the journey God placed his feet upon with us all through his writings and we are all the better for having shared them. His family allowed the last Facebook post shared by Austin on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 7:44 pm, to be published on editorial pages throughout the world. Here it is…. in Austin’s words, why he had chosen to do what he could to bring life and trials of a people half way around the world from his home, to the rest of the world!
Don’t Tell Me To Be Safe
Against my better judgment, I’m posting this on Facebook. Flame away.
People keep telling me to be safe as if that’s an option, keep asking me why I’m doing this crazy thing, keep asking what’s wrong with me for coming here. So listen.Our granddads stormed Normandy and Iwo Jima and defeated global fascism. Neil Armstrong flew to the moon in a glorified trashcan, doing math on a clipboard as he went. Before there were roads, the pioneers put one foot in front of the other until they walked across the entire continent. Then a bunch of them went down to fight and die in Texas ’cause they thought it was the right thing to do.
Sometime between when our granddads licked the Nazis and when we started putting warnings on our coffee cups about the temperature of our beverage, America lost that pioneering spirit. We became a fat, weak, complacent, coddled, unambitious and cowardly nation. I went off to two wars with misguided notions of patriotism and found in both that the first priority was to never get killed, something we could have achieved from our living rooms in America with a lot less hassle. To protect careers and please the politicians, we weighed ourselves down with enough armor to break a man’s back, gorged on RipIts and ice cream, and believed our own press that we were doing something noble. Our granddads would have whipped us.
We kill ourselves every day with McDonald’s and alcohol and a thousand other drugs, but we’ve lost the sense that there actually are things out there worth dying for. We’ve given away our freedoms piecemeal to robber barons, but we’re too complacent to do much but criticize those few who try to point out the obvious. Americans have lost their sense of vision, mistaking asinine partisan squabbles for principles. When we do venture into space – the part of space we’ve gotten comfortable with, mind you – now we pay the Russians to give us a ride. That’s humiliating.
So that’s why I came here to Syria, and it’s why I like being here now, right now, right in the middle of a brutal and still uncertain civil war. Every person in this country fighting for their freedom wakes up every day and goes to sleep every night with the knowledge that death could visit them at any moment. They accept that reality as the price of freedom. They realize there are things worth fighting for, and instead of sitting around wringing their hands about it, or asking their lawyer to file an injunction about it, they’re out there just doing it. They’re alive in a way that almost no Americans today even know how to be. They live with greater passion and dream with greater ambition because they are not afraid of death.
Neither were the pioneers. Neither were our granddads. Neither was Neil Armstrong. And neither am I.
No, I don’t have a death wish – I have a life wish. So I’m living, in a place, at a time and with a people where life means more than anywhere I’ve ever been – because every single day people here lay down their own for the sake of others. Coming here to Syria is the greatest thing I’ve ever done, and it’s the greatest feeling of my life.
In the two years since this was written, his parents, Debra and Marc Tice, have pled for information about their son and asked the United States Government to intervene…. all to no avail. But to mark the anniversary of his disappearance, McClatchy Newspapers has released two new documentary videos on Tice. Martin Baron, The Post’s executive editor, said: “Each month that passes without news of Austin deepens our concern for his well-being. His family has endured unimaginable pain as a result of his captivity. They have our support in their determined efforts to gain his release.” And as a gift to us, his parents have released some words shared from their heart. Ideally, they will be read by the subject himself…. Austin Tice. But then again, we live in a less than ideal world. I have shared their thoughts below in the hopes that we all become just a bit more enlightened as to the consequences of actions by some…. made under the misguided belief, that it is the will of the Almighty…. Allah…. that endorses and condones these actions.
By Debra and Marc Tice
On Monday night, we celebrated the 33rd birthday of our son, Austin Tice. Together with those who know him best, we laughed about Austin’s childhood misadventures, reflected on his many accomplishments, and shared our fondest memories of the most devoted son, brother, uncle, and friend any of us could ever ask for.Today, we mark the second anniversary of Austin’s disappearance from somewhere outside Damascus, Syria. Austin was working as a freelance journalist for McClatchy, The Washington Post, CBS and other media when he was taken captive on Aug. 14, 2012.
Since that day, we have had no contact from Austin or his captors. We came together for Austin’s birthday on Monday still not knowing where he is or who is holding him. So for every funny story and happy memory, there were the myriad questions that have haunted us for the last 17,520 hours. What is Austin’s life like today? Is he safe? Is he eating enough? Is he alone? Can he see the sky? How does he pass the time? Does he know how many people are praying and working for his safe return? When will we once again be able to share not just the momentous occasions or once-in-a-lifetime events he has missed; but also the small daily moments – the everyday joys, challenges, blunders and blessings – that family is all about?
Our greatest hope is that these questions, and the prayers of Austin’s family, friends and supporters around the world, will soon be answered. Sadly, that happy day has yet to come. So we write today in the hopes that Austin will see these words, hear our voices, and receive three simple messages we wish to impart as he turns 33.
The first is that we love you and couldn’t be prouder of the man you are today. From your earliest days as an Eagle Scout, a top student, a terrific athlete, and a caring friend and neighbor, we knew you were a special kid. When you put your Georgetown Law education on hold to follow your journalistic dreams, we knew you were extraordinary. When you did so to help people in one of the most dangerous regions in the world, we knew you were one in a million.
It is easy to live life safely. That is what most people choose for themselves. But living safely is not always what it is God wants for us. It was not what he asked of me. He asked for me to go out and share my heart with you. And I suspect this is the same thing he asked of Austin Tice. I have never regretted for a single moment this path I started, even when I have been subjected to the slings and arrows of others. I know, from reading these special words that Austin wrote, he has not regretted any part of the life he has been living either. Have we both been afraid of the things we might encounter on these journeys we have both set our feet upon? I know that I have been and I and betting Austin was, as well. But we did what it was we were compelled to do. And while I can not speak as to whether Austin considers his path to have been God driven, I can state with certainty that I believe it was, just as surely as mine has been for me. And for me, I must say thank you God!
If you wish to watch the documentary on Tice, produced and released by McClatchy on the second anniversary of his disappearance, you may do so by clicking below.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Psalm 16:11 KJV
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