Friday, September 14, 2007

Joy, Sorrow and Rage

CNN is following the story of a small boy from Baghdad that was badly burned in a sectarian attack. Recently they covered the family's arrival in LA for medical treatment. Having a 5 year old son, this hits close to home. There is an undeniable Joy in seeing this vibrant and innocent child be given health and hope.

This is the kind of heart warming human interest story that the American public loves. It reinforces their view of the kindness of our people, our nation, our government. I too am deeply touched by the profound difference that we are able to make in this one families life.

Then I step back.

I consider the fact that, at it's root, we are the cause of this boys current suffering. The US is Iraq's Pandora. We have taken the lid off of that nation and unleashed a riot of miseries upon that land. In time, one of those miseries landed on this boy. So when I read of the kindness we are extending to this boy, I am also fully aware that in large measure we are simply addressing a wrong that we are, in small part, responsible for. While we did not do this, we enabled the creation of an environment where this could occur.

And these events are not just happening to one small boy or just one family. While we are helping him there are thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who we can not aid. All of these people are suffering, and we can do little more that help a handful. Our nation will latch upon these stories to assuage any guilt we feel about the whole situation. By helping this one family, we are not responsible for the pain that our actions has caused tens of thousands of families. While we have created joy in one home, we have left a land overwhelmed in sorrow.

But there is more; Once you realize the whole truth about their trip to the US, rage starts burning. Even in our kindness there is also an amazing amount of self serving of cruelty.

We have plucked this boy, and his family from a 1 room home in the middle of a city that is the front line of a civil war that shows no sign of ending. We have moved them to a land of safety, prosperity and hope. We will repair the damage that has been done, and then we will drop them back into the disaster area that Iraq now is.

So when I read of the suffering of a child so like my own; when I read of the simple joy he experiences in pushing a luggage cart, when I hear of his pain, his joy, his fears, and his hope, I can not help but feel fear and anger about the fate that awaits him. For after we have repaired the damage, we will then place him back into the very environment that almost killed him.

I can also not forget the children, teens and adults whose misery and suffering, unlike Youssif's, has gone unnoticed by the US media and who will live and die in the hell on earth that our Pandora created for them.

America follows the story of one boy from Iraq, and allows themselves to bask in the warm glow of this humanitarian act. To many never consider the deeper meaning of the story, and what the final act of this play will mean. They are content to not consider how this happened, or where it leads, and simply want to continue their lives, reassured in the fact that we are kind and charitable, and that those who don't see it that way are just ill informed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you can also reach out and help one person - one family. Upstate SC is doing it for Salee Allawe - go see and Upstate Coalition of Compassion.

Here in Asheville, we had Salee and her father for a potluck and presentation last night, and a vigil to mark 4 1/2 years of ongoing US occupation of Iraq.

One Iraq war veteran stood up and formally apologized to Salee's father for what the US has done to their country. That had an impact, I can tell you. Abu Ali (the dad) said that most American people were nice to him, and he thought most American troops were horrible. And our group is totally against this occupation, but some of them did not want to hear that our troops are behaving badly in Iraq.

Think about getting Salee to your town before she goes back to Iraq. Look up Upstate Coalition of Compassion for contacts.