There is so much to gather from this wonderfully written account of the disappearance and apparent abduction of freelance journalist Austin Tice. One encounters a range of emotions and thoughts about the human condition in this narrative: the tragedy and inconceivable sympathy towards Austin’s parents out of thoughts of harm coming to your own children, the feeling of listlessness and wanting to do something great in this life, trying to find the line between bravery and recklessness, the wretched state of the Syrian people, and the inevitable lack of feeling and sympathy we tend to have for those suffering that are far removed from our day to day lives.
Whatever one thinks of Tice and where he fits on that fine line between bravery and recklessness, one has to appreciate the altruism and courage in his becoming a freelance journalist in a dangerous place. His manifesto is something to wonder and marvel at:
“People keep telling me to be safe (as if that’s an option), keep asking me why I’m doing this crazy thing, keep asking me what’s wrong with me for coming here. So listen, our granddads stormed Normandy and Iwo Jima and defeated global fascism. Neil Armstrong flew to the moon in a glorified trashcan, doing math on a clipboard as he went. Before there were roads, the Pioneers put one foot in front of the other until they walked across the entire continent. Then a bunch of them went down to fight and die in Texas ’cause they thought it was the right thing to do. Sometime between when our granddads locked the Nazis and when we started putting warnings on our coffee cups about the temperature on our beverage, America lost that pioneering spirit. We became a fat, weak, complacent, coddled, unambitious and cowardly nation… So that’s why I came here to Syria, and it’s why I like being here now, right now, right in the middle of a brutal and still uncertain civil war. Every person in this country fighting for their freedom wakes up every day and goes to sleep every night with the knowledge that death could visit them at any moment. They accept that reality as the price of freedom…they’re alive in a way that almost no American today even knows how to be. They live with greater passion and dream with greater ambition because they are not afraid of death. Neither were the Pioneers. Neither were our granddads. Neither was Neil Armstrong. And neither am I.”