I'm just back from my 6 month tour in Afghanistan where we've been fighting off religious nutters. Not everyone will be celebrating Easter with their families. The loved ones of many fallen comrades will celebrate this Easter alone.
In some ways, serving in the forces is like the Christian calendar at this time of year. There are the sacrifices of Lent, the pain of Holy Week and the celebrations of Easter.
Days before victory in Iraq, on Palm Sunday, we were greeted by villagers placing palm leaves on the ground before us. I helped many of the soldiers make sense of the situation. I didn't tell them that they were risking their lives for the lying agenda of imperialist American neo-cons who were going to make a fortune out of the war and an idiotic poodle of a Prime Minister who wouldn't know the truth if it fell on top of his head but was still a really nice bloke because he was a Christian. Instead, I pointed to the burning oil fields and said, "Look, that's just like in the Bible."
Hello from sunny Afghanistan, where we're busy trying to eradicate Islamic nutters once and for all. Meanwhile, back in the correct religion, it's Lent, a time of fasting and contemplation. There's not a lot for us to give up, but there's plenty to contemplate: sniper fire, improvised explosive devices, booby traps and suicide bombers. We get to contemplate lost friends and comrades, we get to contemplate our missing families. Every young soldier here must be prepared to sacrifice himself for his friends, his unit and his country, yet must show restraint to ensure that innocent civilians don't die.
As the prophet Joshua said, "Come on lads, lets commit religious genocide in the Middle East thus ensuring peace in that land for the next 3,000 years."