Amid the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, a glimmer of honor appeared on the horizon. A group of American veterans helped evacuate fellow Americans and faithful Afghans left behind to face the Taliban.
These Americans, many of them former members of Special Forces, arranged to send people out of the country. After the fall of Kabul, they did what the enlisted men were ordered not to. They entered the city and devised ingenious ways around Taliban checkpoints in the dead of night to deliver hundreds of people to the Kabul airport for evacuation.
These veterans did not have unlimited funds or special equipment. As civilians, they had no obligation to risk their lives for others. However, the men had ties of loyalty to those left behind that demanded action.
Most importantly, they had grit. Their desire to help found a way around the problems and led them to display unyielding courage in the face of danger. They got the job done.
Something like this needs to be done to solve problems in America today.
Strong Social Bonds, Not Dollars
Too many people think government programs, aid and initiatives will solve problems. They have the idea that throwing money at problems will make them go away. This attitude was the prevailing philosophy in Afghanistan and exists in so many places in America today.
Nothing could be farther from the truth since impersonal programs often invite waste, resentment and abuse. Strong social bonds, not dollars, are the means to solve the problems the nation faces. Mutual ties of loyalty give rise to the grit that gets things done.
The most obvious example of such relationships is that of the family. When the family is endangered, members mobilize to find ingenious solutions to difficult problems. They give selflessly and freely to save those closest to them.
Similar family-like bonds should exist among members of communities, associations and parishes. On a grander scale, love of country establishes a bond that inspires people to give their lives for the nation.
Strong Reciprocal Relationships
What America needs now are these strong personal bonds that permeate society from top to bottom and provide protection, trust and leadership. These ties should give rise to strong networks of individuals who can get things done quickly and efficiently to save the nation.
In a healthy society, such bonds arise naturally and can be found in America’s history. With its call to treat all as brothers and sisters in Christ in a climate of charity, Christian civilization naturally tends to create these vibrant networks of relationships.
In the case of the American veterans, their strong ties of loyalty with Afghan translators and associates inspired them to take risks. There is no comparable commercial relationship that would provoke such devotion.
A Feudal Nature
As shocking as it may sound to modern ears, these ties have something of a feudal nature. The historically misunderstood feudal bond consisted of mutual ties that bound people together in friendship and service. It was a flexible and creative bond inside a family-like relationship where each party agreed to be at the disposition of the other—even risking life if necessary.
These ties are often born of necessity, desperation or improvisation. The circumstances of life create the need for mutual dependencies. They force people to think outside the box of modern individualism. The result is tremendously flexible and powerful relationships that provide leadership and direction, especially in times of crisis.
Something of this can be seen in the grit that allowed a group of veterans to risk all and come up with unimaginable practical solutions. They were able to set up a network of like-minded individuals quickly, inexpensively and with heroic dedication. They called it the Pineapple Express.
Counsel and Aid
Unlike the cold bureaucratic relationships that bind people today to abstract corporate and governmental structures, the feudal bond was remarkably personal. Each party seriously assumed duties and responsibilities to the other and saw it as a sacred duty.
Historians record that both parties were required to give “counsel and aid” by which they made each other’s interests their own. Indeed, these sacred bonds can only be understood in the context of the faith and the supernatural charity that encourage people to look beyond themselves, loving their neighbor for the love of God.
Thus, these ties could be extremely powerful and protective. In this atmosphere of trust and confidence, touching manifestations of affection flowed both ways between the parties, to the point that they were ready to die for each other. It recalled the teaching of Our Divine Savior: “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13).
A Glimmer of What Is Possible
The veteran group in Afghanistan gives a glimmer of what these bonds can produce today. The ties of loyalty and a corresponding sense of duty of this band of abnegated individuals are responsible for rescuing hundreds of comrades and allies who otherwise might have been left behind.
These personal “feudal” relationships bore fruit in a display of heroism that inspired the nation during a withdrawal stained with dishonor and shame. These former soldiers had the grit to do things that others with incomparably more resources did not do.
However, this display of heroism did not represent the full power of a feudal bond. Despite the passing brilliance of their action, it was but a short glimmer that gives an idea of what is possible.
The veterans’ effort was a brief episode, whereas feudal bonds were often lifelong and even intergenerational. The rescue did not have the feudal bond’s supernatural obligations that could have broadened its power and scope. When permanent, these ties tend to form stable groups of leaders that play a shaping and guiding role at all societal levels.
Pointing in the Right Direction
The Afghan rescue points the nation in the direction it needs to go. The Pineapple Express proves that such tasks can be done—naturally, quickly, efficiently and, above all, honorably.
These are selfish times when comfort replaces courage and mediocrity trumps excellence. The nation needs extraordinary individuals that can step up to the plate, committing themselves to others through mutual ties of counsel and aid.
With postmodern liberalism now in decline, these feudal ties are liberating. On their own, government programs and dollars are not going to provide the country’s needed solutions. They lack the essential human element that inspires people to great purpose and meaningful action. What is needed are solutions that transcend today’s exhausted individualism.
Americans involved in such solutions can exist, as heroically proven by the veterans in Afghanistan. Their quick and decisive action can serve as a blueprint for many other lasting commitments.
Some might be reluctant to call these solutions feudal, given the term’s negative press historically. That’s fine, and they can call them anything they want. The final result will be the same.
The solution America needs involves creating deep and enduring bonds through which outstanding individuals, with grit and God’s good help, get things done.
Photo Credit: © Leigh Prather – stock.adobe.com