Jeff's Afghan Diary: After the Lies, A Fresh Start
September 30, 2007
I found out our mutiny was caused by what appears to have been a lie. Our interpreter at the time gave us false information, apparently because he didn’t like the ABP and wanted to get out of Do China. The whole story about our being threatened by the ABP was a fabrication. Months of our hard work were thrown away, and our good will with the ABP, all wasted because of a personal issue. What a shame.
I am not naïve enough to think this doesn’t happen on a much larger scale, with many more lives affected, even between countries. The world is full of people who have lied for purely personal reasons or desires, ruining lives with callous disregard. People even die this way.
Yet I have never been so personally affected as by this. Rulers of third-world countries, who lie to the international community and to their own people about their need for things which are purely selfish, don’t usually affect me. Unfortunately, it affects others instead, and I feel badly about it, but I am untouched. Not this time.
It amazes me how anyone can boldly lie and not care about the consequences it may cause to others in terms of potential pain and suffering. Our interpreter helped the Taliban almost as much as if he were to take up a rifle and join them, as far as negative consequences caused. Our police quit and stayed home for weeks. The trust we had developed in the ABP towards us was shattered – we listened to our lying interpreter and acted against the ABP, taking his false statements as true and kicking them out of our FOB for security reasons. We could not have done otherwise, unless we knew he was lying, as we now do.
I feel a keen sense of betrayal. We trusted our interpreter with our lives. We depended on him to accurately say what we needed to be said to the Afghans, and we depended on him accurately telling us what they said in return.
Now we are rebuilding the relationships that were broken through falsehood – not our own, but someone employed as an agent of ours. We are guilty by association.
Today, I stood in front of a formation of ABP and apologized, then asked for forgiveness for the misunderstanding. I was met with applause. It was a fresh start.
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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and
Executive Director of CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here. God and Science (Hypertext Edition,
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion: Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).
Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.