It Wasn't All Bad ...

More from the inside cover of The Week, in their "It Wasn't All Bad" section. Two stories out of three were blog-able.

Story one:

Two Massachusetts women whose husbands were killed in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 are using the financial support they received afterward to assist widows of the civil war in Afghanistan. Susan Retik, 38, and Patti Quigley, 42, created Beyond the 11th, a nonprofit foundation, and have already donated $170,000 to charities helping Afghan widows. Last week, Quigley and Retik spent 6 days in Afghanistan, where they met some of the recipients of their donations. "We wanted people to understand that these widows were widows because of the same terrorists that affected our husbands," said Quigley.
Story two:
David Davis, 16, had been bouncing around detention centers and foster homes in the Atlanta area since he was 7. He had always responded to crises with his fists, and once was suspended for bringing a knife to school. But soon after moving to the Haven Academy in 2004, he found that his teacher, Barbara Stephens, was getting through to him. "If I had to give up something, I would give up my bad behavior to live with Ms. Stephens," he wrote in an essay. Deeply moved, Stephens and her husband decided to adopt Davis, and on Sunday they celebrated their first Mother's day together.

12 Comments

Good to read that people are taking care of each other.

The tragic thing is that many of the Afghan widows are probably widows because of our military screwups, not terrorist activities.

Man! I can imagine that $170,000 goes a really long way over there. That is fantastic news about some fantastic women.

virusdoc, I am curious why you make that comment. The women are doing what they feel is good, right, and best. Politics aside, all of the women involved are hurting and could use some help from someone. This is a "good news" post. Why throw a wet blanket on top of it with cynicism?

I'm all for people doing good and helping. That's not my problem. But the rationale quoted in the above blurb--that the American widows wanted to help those widows in Afghanistan realize that the "same terrorists" deprived them of their husbands, is somewhat twisted and incomplete. Several thousand civilians that weren't Taliban fighters have been killed in Afghanistan, and by extension our military action has made many widows. I don't have the exact numbers, but I wonder if NATO troops made more widows in four years than the Taliban did in 10.

I'm sorry if this fact is seen as a wet blanket. My motive for making the comment wasn't to crap on the noble actions of these women, but to point out that we are very good at accentuating the suffering brought upon us by terrorists, and very bad (as a nation) at acknowledging the suffering we create by our own responses.

'Doc - Certainly the US military has made mistakes in Afghanistan, but I have to agree with Jeff that to focus on that misses the point of this story. These 2 women refused to simply move on with their insurance settlements and whatever other financial support they received. Instead that were able to grasp a bigger picture, that they had more in common with Afghan widows than it would seem and that all of Afghanistan is not our enemy, only the Taliban, Bin Laden and the terrorists. They understood that the money they received could do more good than simply allowing them to move on.

Although our mistakes (and deliberate actions, I suppose) have cost lives in Afghanistan, we are only there because of their attacks on us in 2001. We can and should do better in our military actions, but it was the actions of the Afghan based terrorists that started the process. Simply stating 'They started it!' doesn't help, but ignoring that fact I think does a disservice to the truth as well. They are each reductionist, simplistic responses.

One can argue, perhaps, that we could have responded differently to Sept. 11, but that doesn't change the fact that without those attacks, neither these 2 American women (and many more) nor the Afghan women would be without their husbands. In that sense, though the US military may be the direct cause of the Afghan men's deaths, it ultimately can be traced back to terrorist actions. I fount it quite encouraging to see these women make that connection and then do something about it.

I think there are profound differences between our actions in Afghanistan, including our tragic mistakes and Bin Laden's deliberate actions (with Taliban support) to target and take the lives of thousands of innocent American civilians.

I suppose one could argue that we could have gone into other countries instead of Afghanistan to deal with a greater amount of terrorists. But Afghanistan was where Bin Laden was so it made perfect sense to go there first.

Yes, there are mistakes made there. Yes, the military had Bin Laden literally in the sites and in range of their weaponry. Yes, I am sure that innocent people are getting killed while cowards hide among them.

But none of that negates the good these women are attempting to contribute to a land that has been torn apart for decades.

I recommend the book "The Hunt For Bin Laden". It's exciting as well as informative.

Jeff - I don't thionk the 'where' we went to resond would be a very fruitful debate. Afghanistan was really the only choice. The real debate would be, was we need to go anywhere? Were there valid options besides war? Does 'Turn the other cheek' have any application here, specifically for a nation that calls itself 'Christian'? I don't have answers to those questions, adn it's a little late for asking them.

We're really getting far afield now. I'm not sure I want to get into this debate, but let's see where it leads.

Personally, I think the first story is a great story of selflessness. The second reminds me of friends I have in KC that did a similar thing.

Doc: FWIW, I agree with you. Terrorists may not have taken the lives of the Afghan widows' husbands. However, since the women themselves made the comment, I'm bound to let it go. I do not believe that you were being cynical. To be cynical in this case would have been to question the motives of these women, which you did not do.

Yes, I believe that we have done more harm than good with our so-called war on terror. Yes, I believe that it is specious reasoning to assume that the US has not created any innocent widows in Afghanistan. I also believe that saying a good news story should somehow be immune from raising an issue is intellectually dishonest.

Again, though, I think I'd have been more likely to raise this issue if someone else besides the two women involved made that statement.

It's similar to some bumps my wife and I have:

Sometimes my/her information is inaccurate. I can choose to resolve the hurt feelings and conflict or ensure complete accuracy from both of us. The latter rarely works.

"I don't thionk the 'where' we went to resond would be a very fruitful debate. "

I actually wasn't meaning to go there with this. I was trying to point out that I agree with doc that the US has made some questionable moves/mistakes.

For what it's worth:
I read the post and was pretty encouraged. I might possibly have been...emotionally moved. (I know. I know. I'm a guy! I'll go watch a few episodes of The Red Green Show, and Home Imporvement, and get myself straightened out.)
Anyway, when I read Doc's comment it kinda took me down a few notches pretty quickly.
I probably responded the way I did because I got bummed out about something that just seconds earlier had made my heart go "bippetty-flippo".
(sorry Doug. it's my word and I'm gonna use it!) ;-)

Jeff - You need to go and register 'bippetty-flippo.com' and rename your blog. It seems to be available. :-)

'Doc - I must admit I was a little taken aback by our comment. I was simply inspired by them, I didn't want to hear about the politics of the was in Afghanistan. You're right, there's more to the story then 'the terrorists took our husbands', even though it may be true on a basic level. I'm sorry I reacted to your words emotionally.

Pinakidion - Good points, and thanks to the reality - or emotion - check.

My intent wasn't to dampen anyone's enthusiasm for the generosity of these women, which is extraordinary under any political circumstances. My apologies.

Doc: No need to apologize, I think you raised a valid point.



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  • My intent wasn't to dampen anyone's enthusiasm for the generosity of these women, which is extraordinary under any political circumstances. My apologies. ...

  • Jeff - You need to go and register 'bippetty-flippo.com' and rename your blog. It seems to be available. :-) 'Doc - I must admit I was a little taken aback by our comment. I was simply inspired by them, I didn't want...

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