So this Sunday I spent the day at my friend’s house. It was a sweltering day: we sat outside,drank some beers, listened to crappy country music, ate some really good food, and talked about politics, shooting guns, girls, and football (both kinds, the real kind I play, with pads and an oblong ball, and the silly one that strange people play, people obsessed with running and falling down a lot).
We went in the front of the house on the street for a while and tossed a football. The other guys played jackpot. I didn’t do too much because I was still pretty sore from playing in a tackle football game the night before – in my late 30’s, I don’t bounce back as quickly as I once did. (In my early 20’s I was known to play in basketball tournaments on the same weekend as I played tackle football. Now I count it a victory if I’m able to get out of bed the day after a football game).
It was a typical Canadian Sunday afternoon and evening in Calgary. I always enjoy visiting with my friend Lori – she is sort of like my very own Jewish mom, a wonderful lady who is very active in the community and always has a kind word for everyone. She’s cheeky and likes to tease me because I play football and she is a huge soccer fan who thinks soccer should be called football for some reason. She has a pretty cool family: Her daughter SK is a beautiful and intelligent young lady who has an infectious laugh and works as a nurse, and everyone thinks she is the younger sibling. Her husband Cam coaches kids (soccer) but it’s her son who is the important part of this particular story.
When I was in Israel, I noted and joked several times that the IDF soldiers I saw just seemed so very young. I couldn’t help but notice they literally looked like children to me. That was even before I realized my friend’s son was actually a soldier now.
You see, Adam is in the IDF. He’s in his very early twenties, and he’s at home for a few weeks right now on leave. He’s a good kid who played soccer his whole life. He likes country music. He drives an ancient GMC pickup. He has overcome some serious difficulties in his life, yet he is extremely good-natured. He has a good sense of humor. He has a good work ethic, but most of all he has a strong sense of duty and the desire to protect his people and his ancestral country, so he signed up to serve in the IDF.
At a time when most kids in Canada are spending their time chasing the opposite sex and partying non stop, he has been in training and serving in an elite unit.
Some people would have you believe Adam is some sort of monster. Those people tweet and send Facebook messages talking about how “IDF soldiers massacre children”. These same people will often post pictures of dead children culled from the internet from other conflicts, literally stealing other peoples’ tragedies to claim them for their own.
As if that were not disgusting enough, those same people will slander and malign young Israelis making them out to be evil villains and claiming they are amoral killers who slay innocent civilians rather than members of what has been described by several military experts as “the most moral and ethical military in the world”.
It bothers me a lot because I know this family, and I have gotten to know Adam a little, for people to try to make him out to be some sort of monster is really offensive to me. I know that if they ever saw Adam the way his friends and family see him, they might be a little less quick to spread lies. If they saw the young man tossing a football with his buddies, playing jackpot in the street, talking about sports and girls, they might understand that the last thing he would ever want is to be put in a position where he has to take another human life. That he would much rather be playing soccer and chasing girls than guarding borders and chasing terrorists.
Lori told me once that Adam respects me, which I thought was funny; because he might be younger than me and slightly shorter, but I look up to him and respect him immensely. Because he puts his life on the line for his beliefs and his country and there can be nothing to be more respected than someone who is willing to put themselves between danger and their people.
I am pretty sure that on this Sunday afternoon I was not, in fact, drinking beer and playing football with a monster. I was drinking beer and playing football with a hero.