When Iraq’s Prime Minister triumphantly announced the recent recapture of Fallujah, he told (commanded?) his countrymen to celebrate. As I stared at the photo of crumbled buildings and empty streets I had to wonder, “Why on earth were people still fighting for Fallujah?”
Fallujah is a small city located about 50 miles west of Baghdad. It’s been around since Babylonian times but its population has never grown beyond 300,000; about the size of Birmingham, Alabama. The city, which has almost 200 mosques, has pretty much been a place for people to stop for gas, prayer, food or to stretch their legs on their way to Baghdad.
While the initial coalition invasion of Iraq left Fallujah mostly unscathed, rampant looting afterwards caused the city to descend into shambles with terrible, long-term consequences.
I’m pretty sure we all remember the scene in 2004 when a convoy of American contractors was attacked in Fallujah; 4 men killed, and their bodies hung from a bridge. Two major offensives to quell the uprising that followed left 100 Americans dead and over 1,000 injured.
Stability was eventually restored but then lost after the US pulled out of Iraq. Fallujah has been a battle ground ever since with ISIS finally being driven away just this month.
Maybe there is some strategic, cultural or emotional reason so many continue to fight and die for what was essentially a popular rest stop. I say “was” because a quick glance at the video coming out of that place reveals the incredible extent of the devastation that has befallen the city.
So Fallujah has been “liberated” -yay, now what?
The more I thought about the insanity of it all, the more I was able to think of example after example of our own personal “Fallujahs.”
Relationships, jobs, ideas and goals..if we think about it, I’m sure we can all identify episodes in our lives when we have expended huge amounts of time, energy, resources and emotion trying to recapture, maintain or save something that was clearly not worth fighting for; something that was crushed beyond repair..
And yet we so often ignore reality, refuse to take a time-out, a moment to re-access the situation as it truly is and change strategies…but why?
Is it fear, embarrassment, pride or stubbornness? Sometimes, the ONLY thing that keeps us fighting for our Fallujahs is the fact that we have already invested so much- too much.
Hardly a good reason to keep at it, and yet this is exactly where we so often find ourselves..sacrificing it all, fighting for what no longer exists.