IPT Update: Dark Days (March 25, 2003)
I doubt many people in Iraq heard the ominous comic book assertion this morning from U.S. Central Command that there were "Dark days ahead for the dark side" in Iraq. A quick glance at the news this evening suggests that the "dark days" are here...for all sides.
In the Summer of 2000, members of Voices in the Wilderness lived for two months with poor families in the Jumhuriyah neighborhood of Basra.
Reflecting on her first night in Basra, Lauren Cannon wrote:"Summer in Basra - nightmare fears leaping into the everyday lives of innocents who've already endured close to two decades of military and economic warfare. Summer in Basra - a world of imprisoned beauty where we feel no threat. Who does Iraq threaten? Lets be honest. Iraq threatens the US ability to control Iraq's precious and irreplaceable resources."
Kathy Kelly added:
"As thousands of children are sacrificed because of this perceived threat to US security, the US earns a fearsome reputation as the rogue superpower. We feel sure that families here in Jumhuriyah will teach us a new kind of security based on sharing, simplicity and care for others' needs."
Tonight the good people of Basra are without electricity and many are without water as tank barrels stare in at them from the outside edges of the city. There are reports of "incidents" inside the city that some are saying is an uprising. Who knows what the future holds.
Meanwhile CNN is saying there will be some 1,400 air missions over Iraq in the next 24 hours. Little gets in the way of "Shock & Awe." Bettejo Passalaqua wrote from Baghdad this morning:
"Today there is a tremendous sandstorm. I would have thought that this would have stopped the bombing, as it seems it would be difficult to guide the missiles and planes with any precision, but apparently it is not a problem for guidance, or the military just isn't too concerned if mistakes are made."
Also out of Baghdad this morning, we have a brief reflection from Shane Claiborne called "Dark days and Shiny Shoes":
"I have grown especially close to one of the 'shoeshine boys', a homeless boy (about 10 years old), named Mussef. The first day I met him, he was begging me for money to eat. When I stubbornly said 'no' to his relentless attempts on my wallet, he turned away and muttered,
'Son-of-b****-mother-******.' I whipped my head around in shock, as he took off running. Not the best first impression. Day after day, we have grown on each other. We go for walks, turn somersaults, and yell at the airplanes 'SALAAM!' (PEACE!!!). Now everyday when I walk outside he runs at full speed, jumps into my arms, and kisses me on the cheek. And I have the shiniest shoes in Baghdad.
"One day Mussef joined our group on a walk into the center of town, carrying pictures of Iraqi children and families suffering from the war and sanctions.
Press and journalists took pictures and talked to us as we stood in one of Baghdad's busiest intersections, and Mussef begin to internalize what was happening. His shining face became bleak. Nothing I could do made him smile. As the group went home, and the cameras left, we continued to sit. He motioned with his hand the falling of bombs, and made the sound explosions, as tears welled up in his eyes.
"Suddenly, he turned, and latched onto my neck. He began to weep; his body shook as he gasped for each breath of air. I began to cry. Somehow I was glad all the cameras were gone. We wept as friends, as brothers, not as a peacemaker and victim. Afterwards I took him to eat, banquet style (tipping everyone extravagantly so my guest would be welcome). Every five minutes he would ask me, 'Are you okay?' I would nod, and ask, 'Are you okay?' And he would nod. To be honest I think we were both scared out of our minds but we each wanted to assure that the other did not start weeping again."
In these dark days, we are anxious for a new beginning in Iraq. It was new beginnings that Andrew Mandell - who traveled to Iraq with VitW two years ago - had in mind recently when he penned an open letter to a friend in Baghdad. "It is time for a modest sunrise" for the people of Iraq. That sunrise, he writes, "will slip around to my children's dawn as well. There is no seam to divide the dawns of this confused species. The only way to promise my daughter a morning will be to promise yours one as well."
Jeff Guntzel, for Voices in the Wilderness and Iraq Peace Team
"5 mile-market" by Alialohily - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:5mile-market.jpg#mediaviewer/File:5mile-market.jpg