Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Long Road Home

In many ways, Gilad Shalit's journey home has barely begun.

Obviously, we all know that spending years of 19 to 24 in a Hamas bunker is going to leave terrible scars. There will be so many difficulties in his reentry into normal life, and many of them are so hard to anticipate.

Could he have known that he has become an international celebrity and front page news? He must have known that his family would be advocating for him. But what could prepare him for the public persona he now has? Celebrities often complain about the down sides of fame, although they worked hard to earn it. What if it is thrust on you through happenstance? It must create a Harry Potter like sense of confusion. Can he ever have the kind of privacy in public that we all enjoy?

Will he possibly feel guilt? Don't forget that other soldiers were killed during his capture. Will he fear running into families of the victims of the released terrorists? (I don't even want to consider future terrorist actions, God forbid, and what that would make him feel)

I was just watching an interview with the hero Dennis Fitch. It was for Errol Morris' "First Person", and it is riveting. He saved dozens of lives by landing an impossibly out of control plane. It is an amazing story. In the interview, he talks about meeting the mother of a young woman who didn't survive the crash. This mom walked up to him and said, "You killed my daughter!" The injustice of it gave him no consolation. Here was a hero made to feel guilt for what he could not control rather than what he accomplished.

Will Gilad fear such meetings? Will they happen? They could. And what positive accomplishments can he use to attempt to console himself?

I wonder who is even qualified to help Gilad through these times. Who has had an experience like his? Other prisoners of war in Israel may yield some aid and understanding.

I hope it goes as well as it possibly can.

Did the government do the right thing? Its too hard for me to say. Were the potential concerns of strategy and the abstract concerns of justice worth this young man's life? How does one decide?

I keep thinking about a scene from Frank Miller's 1986 graphic novel, "The Dark Knight Returns". The new commissioner asks the retiring Commissioner Gordon how he could have sanctioned a vigilante like Batman. The panels below are his response.

"You will," he answers.

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