I am sickened. How long will the American people allow their administration to create terror in Iraq? Will our apathy and false arguments destroy the country of Iraq and this country of the United States?
Some say civilization itself must be destroyed -- for its indifference, hatred of truth, and unwillingness to act when it experiences cruel and cynical lies.
Our souls are crushed into the dust,
our bodies dragged down to the earth.
(--from Psalm 44)
We are not separate from the people of Iraq. The suffering they undergo continues and shifts from an Iraqi dictator to an American conqueror. Their society disintegrates in a way differing from the way our society disintegrates. Men and women in positions of influence argue the merits of getting out of Iraq. They use words like "victory" and "defeat." They think they are defending freedom and ensuring security by perpetuating occupation and slaughter of both Iraqis and American military personnel. There is an insanity surrounding the arguments made.
Over the past several months The Nation has interviewed fifty combat veterans of the Iraq War from around the United States in an effort to investigate the effects of the four-year-old occupation on average Iraqi civilians. These combat veterans, some of whom bear deep emotional and physical scars, and many of whom have come to oppose the occupation, gave vivid, on-the-record accounts. They described a brutal side of the war rarely seen on television screens or chronicled in newspaper accounts.
Their stories, recorded and typed into thousands of pages of transcripts, reveal disturbing patterns of behavior by American troops in Iraq. Dozens of those interviewed witnessed Iraqi civilians, including children, dying from American firepower. Some participated in such killings; others treated or investigated civilian casualties after the fact. Many also heard such stories, in detail, from members of their unit. The soldiers, sailors and marines emphasized that not all troops took part in indiscriminate killings. Many said that these acts were perpetrated by a minority. But they nevertheless described such acts as common and said they often go unreported--and almost always go unpunished.
(--In an article article posted July 9, 2007 (July 30, 2007 issue) of The Nation Magazine, entitled "The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness," by Chris Hedges & Laila Al-Arian, (http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070730/hedges). Military veterans speak about the violence and terror on Iraqi citizens by American forces in Iraq.)
No one can claim they didn't know. No one can make an argument that Mr. Bush and friends have not cynically exploited 9-11 for their private rationale and that the vast majority of American citizens, politicians, and media people have given this madness permission and cover. The secrecy of immorality perpetrated by these men will come into the open some day. We will be ashamed and horrified at what we accepted and condoned. Phrases like "the fog of war" and "the shock of 9-11" will no longer be tolerated as excuse for the unlawful and traitorous acts of men in power.
So many have become infuriated at the wanton disregard of law and ethics on the part of the American administration, it is a wonder retaliation has not yet exploded again on American soil. The pity will be, that when it does, this administration will use it as justification for everything it has done, denying any responsibility for the backlash. When it occurs, it will be suspect and paradoxical. The slap back to our face will be the slap back to another incursion into another country. The flopping of bombs and death of intelligent discourse will drown out the cries of heart and mind issuing from people made to suffer further degradation into senseless folly.
Simple-minded men and women might someday drop their red/blue, democrat/republican, left/right, conservative/liberal dualistic divides they've used as reasons to avoid facing the moral and human, some say divine and cosmic, implications of the lies and deceits foisted on and cultivated by the populace of the American nation. There will be a reckoning. But will we survive the time from now until then?
Going Against the Stream
The Buddha described his teachings as "going against the stream."The unflinching light of mindful awareness reveals the extent to which we are tossed along in the stream of past conditioning and habit. The moment we decide to stop and look at what is going on (like a swimmer suddenly changing course to swim upstream instead of downstream), we find ourselves battered by powerful currents we had never even suspected--precisely because until that moment we were largely living at their command.
(--Stephen Batchelor, Tricycle's Daily Dharma: July 12, 2007)
The cranky local Irishman who has disappeared from the area would say that people in America are fools, easily led and deceived, and just plain dumb. (And that's what he'd say on a good day!) He could be right, however depressing it might have been to hear it said again and again.
If you feel depressed about the war and the inability of anyone to stop the insanity -- welcome to the community. It is a meditation both difficult and necessary. There is no clever ending to this course of events, no cute phrase to sum up and resolve this human stupidity and ignorance.
We have been enslaved by our own ignorance.
We are slaves of misguided men in power.
Our soul, imprisoned and grieving, longs for respite and release.
O God, the world had fallen flat in the dust but your Son’s humility stood it upright once more.
Fill your faithful people with a holy joy:
take those whom you have torn away from slavery to sin
and make them rejoice eternally.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.
(--Concluding Prayer, in today's Christian tradition Office of Readings.)
Must we turn to something other than us? Or are we imploring our deepest sense of truth and love?
We must come awake to this question.
Awake to this reality.
Prayer for Peace
Send Thy peace, O Lord, which is perfect and everlasting,
that our souls may radiate peace.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that we may think, act,
and speak harmoniously.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that we may be contented
and thankful for Thy bountiful gifts.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that amidst our worldly strife
we may enjoy thy bliss.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that we may endure all,
tolerate all in the thought of thy grace and mercy.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that our lives may become a
divine vision, and in Thy light all darkness may vanish. Send Thy peace, O Lord, our Father and Mother, that we
Thy children on earth may all unite in one family.
(--from Who We Are, Prayers, Morning Prayer, Sufi Order International, http://www.sufiorder.org/prayers.html
So we pray.