Time and Communication
He was attending a shura in the village of Shinkay in March of 2006, talking with elders there about what they would need for reconstruction. Shinkay is in the Kandahar region of Afghanistan, where the mountains have provided shelter for Taliban fighters conducting hit-and-run attacks, and where Canada's military actions are focused. Greene had previously written books on missing women from Vancouver's East Side and the homeless in Japan, and was most interested in bringing education opportunities to girls and women in Afghanistan. He was a member of a provincial reconstruction team, focusing mainly on providing wells for villages.
While seated the the shura, he was attacked by a 16 year-old boy wielding an axe. Greene had his helmet off and rifle on the ground, as a sign of respect for the shura, so there was nothing to prevent the axe from essentially splitting his brain in half. Fortunately, a medic had decided to accompany him despite Greene's insistence that one wouldn't be needed. It was, after all, a simple meeting with an organizational committee to discuss what the town needed.
In the past two and a half years of rehabilitation, Greene has nearly died three times. He's managed to speak above a whisper. He has some control over a motorized wheelchair. And he now lives at home, and has pretend tea with his daughter. As far as a list of accomplishments goes, it's short - but surprising none the less.
If anyone had reason for despair, resentment, or hatred, it would be him. When asked what he would say to his assailant if he met the boy now, he said this:
I'm sorry. Because he's dead now. I know my comrades killed him. I was there in a uniform with a weapon. He had reason to attack me.
The Canadian government has said that it fully intends to pull out of Afghanistan on schedule in 2011, probably with some developmental assistance and technical support deployment - troops numbering in the dozens rather than thousands. I can only hope that there is enough stability left behind so that the people there will have the luxury of choice; that desperation or fear or hunger won't be the overriding factor in their lives.
If we can keep employing people like Trevor Greene to represent us around the world, I do believe that the hope I have has reason as well.