I’m so far behind in updating this blog that no one can claim I deal in “current events”. But, I’ve been thinking about a major news event since it happened. And even though it quickly died out of the news cycle, it seemed to me that the most important questions never got asked. I’m not talking protests, or anyone occupying anywhere, or Bin Laden or the EU. I’m thinking about Gilad Shalit.
In 2006 this 19-year-old Israeli boy-soldier gets abducted by the Palestinian Hamas movement. He’s held in isolation and mystery for more than five years while his parents fight tirelessly for his release. Protests, demonstrations, and mentions of his captivity happened all over the world. Finally, in October of this year he’s released. Parents rejoice. Events are held. The press swarms.
But I can’t help the feeling that the difficulties of his life may be yet to come.
He lived in captivity, which I can’t even imagine. He was literally off the map for half a decade and he’ll never get those years back. But on the other hand there was a singularity of purpose in that time. Survive. Live to be released. His parents were living in a similar world of singular focus and laser guided love for their son.
But what now? Real life will have to invade for him and his parents. He’ll need a job and they will need something new to do with any free moment. And all the while I wonder about the elephant in the room:
He wasn’t just released, he was traded. Israel got one twenty-five year old, normal and unremarkable young man by giving up more than 1,000 prisoners of all kinds.
Elsewhere in the world more than 1,000 families celebrated the return of loved ones they thought they’d never see again. New lives were started. Old lives were returned. Because of one kid.
Gilad Shalit is worth 1,027 people. He can quantify his worth in human lives. His life for more than 1,000 others. And I’m left wondering if there’s anyone in the modern time who can say anything like that? Is there anyone else alive who will have to endure that reality?
Is there anyone on the planet who is worth 1,000 lives? Would 1,000 people give up their lives so Steve Jobs could have lived longer? What about Christ? He’s worth more than 1,000 lives and he did the opposite… He gave up His life so we could all live.
Gilad didn’t give up his life, he gained life in exchange for 1,000 others. He didn’t do anything but play bargaining chip for 1,000 other people. If Gilad had died so 1,000 people could live he’d be a hero. Instead he’s just going back to try and live like a normal guy. Years of political posturing and the result is Palestine going… “Okay, for 1,000 people… we’ll give you one guy.”
Now if Gilad goes on to cure cancer, or raise up Israel to newfound glory, or disciple thousands to be better than they were before… what a story that would be. But it’s more likely that he’ll just get an unremarkable job, get married, start a family, find himself out of shape and overweight and pissed at his kids about something. Just another guy.
What if some of those 1,027 released decide to cause more damage? I have no interest in getting into a Palestine vs. Israel discussion, I’m just acknowledging reports that some of those released were in prison for murder and/or terror attacks.
Yet I never saw this question in the Press. No one seemed to ask “Wait a minute…is this kid worth 1,000 lives?”. Does the family have a counselor prepared to talk to Gilad when the weight of this comes crashing down on him… cause I bet it will.
I’m reminded of the film “Saving Private Ryan” where Matt Damon is finally rescued but the entire squad that went to get him has now been killed. Tom Hanks, the last of the squad, is dying and he looks up at the kid and says “Earn this…”. Then we return to present day and the kid is now an average grandfather who turns to his wife and says “Tell me I’m a good man….”. Cause how do you do enough to make your life worth the life of someone else?
As a father I ponder “Is my son worth 1,000 people?”. I don’t mean emotionally, as I’m sure Gilad’s parents would have (and did) anything to get him home. I mean intellectually, realistically. In one room, 1,000 people. In the other, my son. What’s the better call?
God chose the room full of people. Gilad’s parents chose their son.
What am I worth? What are you worth? And I’m not looking for a Sunday School answer here. If you were going to be traded for 1,027 other people… hell, 27 other people… would you feel worth the cost? Could I do anything over the course of my life to be worth 1 person? Or 27? Or 1,027?
Gilad Shalit will have to live with that question, and I bet it will be far harder than his time in isolation.