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The Lesson From “LONE SURVIVOR”

On my three consecutive flights home from speaking at the Sun Valley Wellness Festival yesterday, I selected the in-flight movie, “Lone Survivor.” I don’t ordinarily watch war films but I felt compelled to watch. As it progressed I began to glimpse something much greater in the plot.

“Lone Survivor” tells the story of Marcus Luttrell, a US Marine ambushed by the Taliban along with three SEAL recon teammates in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush region. After a harrowing escape that claimed the lives of his fellow squad members, Luttrell managed to make it to safety because of the help of Afghan natives.

The Pashtun villagers who agreed to protect Luttrell did so in keeping with their ancient traditional code of life: “Pashtunwali.” Their communal identity adheres to a set of moral standards promoting self-respect, independence, justice, hospitality, love, forgiveness, asylum and tolerance, particularly to guests or strangers. This strong Pashtun ideology, dating back seventeen hundred years, is what saved Marcus Luttrell’s life.

So often we believe we know our enemy. We may think because groups of people have been labeled bad or wrong that every member of the group is alike. We forget that beyond the political agenda of nations, we are all just human beings-people with wives, children, siblings, and friends. Something inherently good exists within every one of us. It is our conditioned thoughts of separation and judgment that keep us from living our own version of “Pashunwali.” When we accept and embrace our shared humanity and allow ourselves to shine forth, the boundaries of survival fall away and love is found in the unlikeliest of places.

The same bond of honor that drives one side to kill can be just as powerful as the bond that drives the other to protect and hold safe.  We can make the conscious choice to live in peace and experience a world without war. I believe when our fear and separation are extinguished, abundant joy will take its place. Until then, may the lines of fear and survival continue to diminish until only love remains.

God bless those who stand for the power of what is just and good regardless of their chosen side. We all have one thing in common. We are human beings. When we fully honor our shared humanity – regardless of race, creed, or country, we will create the peaceful planet we deserve.



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