Yesterday afternoon, I found out that an old biking and paddling acquaintance from Durango, Colorado – Tom Grams – was one of the 10 medical volunteers murdered in Afghanistan.
I’d seen the news when it happened, and I somehow felt... something different than the simple sadness and anger that such news would normally elicit in me. I would normally not have looked for the names of the victims, but something made me search for them. And of course, the media didn’t release those names at first. So I sort of forgot about it... for a day.
Tom wasn’t a close friend, rather he was one of the many casual acquaintances one has in a small town like Durango. We would run into each other at parties, on the bike trails, or on the river. Tom came across as one of those seemingly overly sincere men – yet one of those men who really are. He’d sold his dental practice and had been doing volunteer dental work around the world. He was 51.
I read some of the comments following the article in the Durango Herald about Tom’s death. Most posters were sad and supportive. A few railed against the Muslims (while some of the other posters shot back saying at them, saying to the effect: “let’s celebrate Tom and not condemn a whole religion”).
As much as I believe that Tom’s life was a good life and his death needless, I can’t help but feel even more angry at a culture (Islam) still stuck in the 13th century. A culture that still stones women to death for adultery. A culture that encourages suicide bombers to murder civilians. A culture that celebrates as a hero the release of the convicted Lockerbie terrorist. And on and on.
I certainly don’t know the answer, and I’m sure Tom and his fellow medical volunteers were doing their part to try and change... something... in that part of the world.
Wherever you are, Tom, I hope the rivers run swift and the trails are lined with wildflowers.