Today I was interviewed by a college student writing an academic paper on how people feel and react when they come home from peace-keeping or peace-enforcing operations in faraway lands. Her interviews covered the Congo campaign 50 years ago, the Middle East ceasefire monitoring 40 years ago, the Balkan wars 20 years ago and the ongoing Afghanistan struggles. Quite ambitious.
I was happy to explain my experiences of doing civilian service in Afghanistan, from which I returned three years ago, and how I afterward readjusted to a mundane life in Sweden. When the interview was over and I had put down the phone, I realized that JRR Tolkien had written a sentence in The Fellowship of the Ring that summarized most of my thoughts on the matter:
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”