Meeting with a Mercenary

I met Stephen (Steven?) at XXXXXXXX, a restaurant-bar at one of the big hotels near our place. As I was forging through Samuel Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” (more on that later), I noticed that one of my neighbors was speaking with a decidedly un-Arabic accent and we started chatting. Following are excerpts from my rather long conversation with Stephen, a Scottish mercenary, who has just arrived from Baghdad earlier that day:

When I was in Angola, my troops and I would travel around from place to place. And these little kids would somehow find out where we were. They would come and set up camp outside of our camp—the oldest one of them must have been 12 years old. And there was one I liked especially, they called him Babba. I would sit him on my lap and give him good food from my plate. He must have been about two and a half. One day I noticed he was not there, so I called for him and did not find him. I went out into the brush—they would make little canopies from the long grass in the brush to sleep under—and I found him dead underneath the grass. He had been strangled to death. I lined them all up and asked them who had done this. Later one of the African soldiers told me it was my fault because I had treated him with preference. It’s the law of survival. They had killed him because he was getting more food than the rest of them. If they had been adults I would have killed them all right there…

The best weapon is the AK-47, made by peasants, for peasants. You can bury it under sand for a month, and if you dig it up and still works fine…

I asked him: So, having spent time in Iraq, what do you think are the prospects for the country? Not good, he said.

Many Christians in the US are upset because it looks like the Christians will have less religious freedom than before, when Hussein was in power, I said.

I was in Nashville once, and I had nothing to do, and the only book around the hotel was the Bible, so I started reading it. I found many contradictions…

I said, traditionally, I would ask you what those contradictions were and try to explain each of them away. But let me tell you that my experience is that Christianity works because I lived it out. When I became a Christian, I just did what I was taught: respect your parents, or, be kind to those whom no one else likes or respect—the unpopular kids at school. So I started trying to live out these Christians teachings, and saw that they really worked. So, it’s kind of like a puzzle—you don’t need to solve the whole puzzle before you can understand what it portrays…

Keep Stephen and his wife and their two children in mind as he travels back to Scotland tomorrow morning. He will be leaving to go to Afghanistan soon.

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