Friday, April 29, 2005

Determination in the face of devastation....

When I first woke this morning, I did what I always do, which is to check e mails and the news.
I saw this and this.

Only hours before, I had been discussing with one of my friends the possibility of my going to Iraq in upcoming months. We discussed that there was currently a 'spike' of violence from the terrorists. That they are losing, and that their tactics show their desperation, but, like any cornered animal, desperation can be very dangerous. They are making a big, all-out attempt, so that they can get lines like the one in the Reuters article this morning which said that they were, "putting the new government under pressure to tackle an insurgency that shows no sign of weakening". They continue to attempt to wreak devastation, not only in the streets, but in the hearts of the Iraqis.

At the same time, I see this other article stating that Al-Yawar says that some of the Sunni leaders are threatening to pull out of the new government if their demands for certain posts are not met. In doing this, they give hope to the terrorists. Hope that the Iraq is not unified, hope that they still have a crack that they can widen.

Now, I understand pretty well that Iraq is a different society than ours. First of all, the issue of pride is among things considered most important. This is one reason for the entire pan-Arab cultural divides and spats over hundreds and even thousands of years. The society is based on a patriarchal model in which there is a patron that you serve and in return, you get protection. It feeds off this in a terrible circle that can only be broken by a very brave and very unselfish leader, one who would not be scared to have not only his thoughts challenged, but his very courage and manhood, to possibly end up being vilified.

But, as I went for my run today, I was thinking, I wonder what it would be like, I wonder of the reaction, if there were just one man, one major Sunni leader, brave enough to stand up and say, "right now, the Sunni population is not as represented as it would have been had certain areas not been as targeted during voting, that is true." "However, we have all paid a price for our country, and now, we are willing to compromise in whatever way is needed to help the new government establish itself."

I know that this would not last, anymore than non partisan unity in the US did after 9/11. But in those first months after, there was no question of divide. None. It brought out the very best in most Americans, the willingness to put aside the smaller conflicts for a larger purpose.

This is akin to what the new government in Iraq must have in order to let the terrorists know that they are not going to break this country. They must at least appear unified, strong, and determined. This does not mean that there should not be argument and disussion, quite the opposite, they should show that they can acheive despite those things. However, to have threats going on of "we won't play if we can't have the toys we want", at this critical time is just absurd. Now is the time for the people that elected these representatives to remember their roles as well. There are many, many Sunnis that are moderate and do not fear a government in which they don't get "x" posts. They need to let the leaders know that. And that's the hardest task of all. After all of the years of not being allowed to speak out about your government, without being killed or tortured for it, it will be the largest test for Iraqis to remember that these people work for them now, and that they have the voice to keep them in power, or remove them.

People in Iraq are fearful still from so many years of brutality and tyrannical government control. And they are an amazingly brave people, as they have shown again and again. They line up still to serve in an unconscripted army. They fight terrorists in their own neighboorhoods. They take risks working in any part of the government. They are risking everything for freedom.

The same freedom that allowed me to think these thoughts as I made my way down the road looking at the new buds on the spring trees this morning and thinking that these trees are like Iraq. They are just budding, but soon enough, they will be in full bloom. Iraq is in it's spring. But soon, it will come into it's full summer, and I am certain that the heat of the people's desire will not be held back by these terrorists, or by a government, ever again.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Unspoken

This day is for living
For being free
With thoughts, feelings, words

For being wild
Feeling my very nature
As creation intended

Not for work
Or for play
But for running

Through fields
Over streams
With blood coursing

With my mind racing
Inside I am not here
I am far away

Under the palms
Along the river
Racing against my own heart

I’m tired of whispers
Today I will say it loudly
For all of those that can’t

And all will hear me………..

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Iraq and the Future.....

Iraq has a history steeped in intellectual thinkers, in great physicians, engineers, and poets alike. There are far too many people that either don't know, or have forgotten that Iraq was once the cradle of civilization. And though many regimes tried to throw them off the path for many years, the history and knowledge is still there, and you will find it in the people and places throughout Iraq. There is a distinct change in the attitudes towards relationships, religion, and government in Iraq. In particular you can see this in the twenty something generation, and in the one upcoming after it. This is the up and coming Iraq.

Iraq is now being shaped by a new government which was portended in the current elections that just happened, and in the outcome of them. Suddenly, after a resounding success with elections, mentions of Iraq in the news worldwide went down. Even on the second anniversary of OIF's beginning, while there was a brief pickup in the overall worldwide coverage of protests against OIF, the main story of the time was the Schiavo case.

This brings to the front a couple of things that I want to address while I'm on this topic. One is that I find it interesting that one can protest something called Operation Iraqi Freedom. I recently had a discussion about this at a dinner with close family members, one of whom is a committed democrat, but thinks she is a committed liberal. Mind you, there's a difference, and when I pointed out, as many others have, that liberalism used to be for freeing the oppressed, she simply sputtered and flushed. No argument did she have for me. Now, there's that, and there's the fact that on that day of the 2nd anniversary of the beginning of OIF, IN IRAQ, THE AMERICAN FLAG was placed beside the flag there. HMMMM. So people in London are really pissed off that OIF happened, but IRAQIS put up the AMERICAN FLAG (and probably the British in places like Basra, I'll find out, because now I'm curious). Judge for yourself.




The other thing that continuallly annoys me is the reference to what is now going on in Iraq as a war. The only way it is a war, is if it is a part of a war on/against terror. It's not a war, in the way that we conventionally think of wars. A war is usually fought to change a governmental regime for one reason or another, or to gain land. This started as a war, a war against Saddam and his regime. And yes, while there are still ba'athists left fighting with the terrorists, the majority of the regime is gone in Iraq. There is a new government, and the Iraqi people are slowly (or in some cases, quickly) grasping the amazing amount of change that has been thrown upon them in the past two years. Fighting terrorists, side by side with the Iraqi National Guard, or the IP, or in some cases Iraqi civilians, is not a "war against Iraq" by any definition I use.

A gentleman was speaking to me not too long ago, very soon after elections, about support for an initiative in Iraq. He said that he was concerned because often they saw that as the media fades on a certain area, and picks up another one, the interest to support the initial area waned. I told him that certainly we had seen this in Afghanistan, and in countries in Africa in the past, just as examples, and that I understood his concern very well. In fact, it was one that I privately shared in regards to Iraq.

I must say, with the huge support that the blogosphere has given Iraq, both sides of life presented by Iraqi bloggers, I was disappointed in the lack of coverage of the final choices in outcome of elections. While it was breaking news in the MSM, it was barely mentioned in the blogosphere. But maybe I should see this as a good thing. Iraq isn't worldwide breaking news anymore. Neither is Australia, Uzbekistan, or Poland. Maybe there's a commonality there that we can enjoy. But don't lose sight of Iraq. They've still got a lot to show us. Some of the brightest minds I've met are Iraqi, and thus I know what their future looks like. I just hope the world gives them the chance to get there.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

What ever happened to Iraq?

Answer: The same thing that happened to Afghanistan, in as far as the public consciousness is concerned, at least as far as I can tell.

Successful elections, hm, we didn't expect that. OK then, onto the next thing.

I have so many problems with this I hardly know where to begin, but there will be a full discussion up on this tomorrow.

Life

OK, so forget the literary theme for a minute. I want to talk about something else. This is the beauty of blogs! I'm a runner when able. I ran in high school, college, and I'm still running at 34. My father was a runner, and taught me how to enjoy running. And he taught me in more ways than one.

My father died of cancer almost 5 years ago. And as I was running this morning, with the news all having been full of death lately, the Shiavo case, and the Pope in his last hours, I couldn't help but think of my father, and where I was 5 years ago today. I was in a hospital, at his bedside, with my sister, watching him die. Today would have been day 14 in that which would be a 31 day ordeal, and was probably my weakest moment. I was despondent after two weeks when the doctors had all assured me that he would live for only 3-5 days at the maximum. Why? Because I bore some of the responsibility for what I was watching him go through. I knew his wishes, and I had medical power of attorney for him. I knew that he would die regardless eventually, and his daily suffering would become only greater. But you know what? I can tell you with certainty that suffering does bring a sort of redemption. It brings a love and appreciation of life that you don't get in any other way. Watching him suffer, long before his last stages of death, we came to a different plane of our relationship. It hadn't been a great relationship, during our time apart, from when I was quite young, 6-8yrs, until I was 20, it was filled with hurt, betrayal, lies, humiliation, and sadness on both sides. What we gained was peace, forgiveness, and yes, the ultimate human gift, unconditional love.

So whenever I run, on a day like today, it is raining, and I am tired, and I don't have energy for the last mile....I often think of my father, and how he felt when he couldn't run. And today I thought of the Pope, and how he hasn't been able to move well for years, and has continued on bravely. And I thought of my friends in Iraq and how they risk their lives every day to further freedom there. And with all of these thoughts, my mind freed itself from my body, and every time I put my foot to the ground again, it was for one of these people, these millions of people all over the world, suffering in different ways. I felt lucky, I am free to run, I have the use of these legs, and I will use them for all of those that can’t. I will embrace life. Because ultimately, it is death that makes life precious.