Have you heard about the two Iraq veterans and their “Contagious Love Experiment”?
This is Veterans Day, the annual holiday honoring those who served in the military. Here’s how two veterans are honoring their fellow servicemen and women.
Josh Stieber was in middle school on “9/11.” He says, “I understood that there were people out there who wanted to destroy my country and hated my religion. My religion (church, religious school) promoted war and I made a deal with God that if the war was still going on when I graduated high school, I would be honored to enlist in the army as an infantryman.”
True to his deal with God, and “somewhat glad” the war was still on when he graduated, Stieber enlisted. He was deployed to Baghdad in 2007. “I learned that the military trains people to hate and dehumanize entire people groups,” he says, “not showing sadness for the difficult task of ‘removing evil’.”
Josh applied for conscientious objector status after he returned from 14 months in Iraq.
“If I am saying no to war, I want to find out what to say yes to. I want to take a negative and invest it into a positive. In a country where war is preached from the churches, I want to do a little to remember the man who those churches are built for, the man who visited the orphans, served the poor, clothed the naked, fed the hungry… and loved. So that’s what I’ve set out to do and I hope that that love is contagious.”
Conor Curran joined the Contagious Love Experiment after two tours of duty in Iraq. As he attempted to readjust to civilian life, he found he couldn’t shake his feelings of guilt and anger. “I saw the potential in each person I passed in the street to carry out harm or some type of negative action… I realized I had been living my life preparing myself to handle anything negative another may do to me, and in doing so I had involved myself in a life of callousness, war and anger.”
“I decided not only would I try to not judge the people I meet,” Conor says. “Instead, I would try to love them and see what happens. As I began this new exercise in love, I found my life transformed and refreshed, and the people in my life seemed to be changed and renewed as well. Was love contagious? Could it change the world?”
Their Contagious Love Experiment has them biking across America, having random encounters with strangers and meeting with and speaking to organized groups. This week, according to their schedule, they are in the Bay area—the Metta Center in Berkeley, the Berkeley Friends Center, and the Lafayette Veterans Day Vigil.
What do you think of the efforts?
Care to read more?
First, here’s the Web site Josh and Conor have set up for their nationwide experiment.
Then, here’s the page in their site where you can see their stops since July—and where they’re headed through the end of November.
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