March 21, 2006

Stop the War

The Olympian started it out, with a front page story headed by "Dad in Iraq for revenge ready to head home". The story is about an older soldier who joined the Guard, wanting to serve again, this time with his son, who was in Iraq. Before he was able to go to Iraq, his son was killed. Now, he's in Iraq himself and "there's some revenge involved." I can't imagine what it would be like to lose a child to a war and I'm sure he is in serious pain, but I can imagine several alternative ways to deal with the pain, all of them an improvement over hoping to kill a "terrorist." Even more perplexing to me was that he had served as a Christian missionary. Was he more than a salesman for Christ? Is there something he might have taken from his religious teachings, beyond that he is on the other side from the heathens and that killing them is the answer? To his credit, he seemed to be losing his enthusiasm for the enterprise, though it wasn't clear what he'd learned from it.

This was followed by the spiritual perspective, this week from Imam Mohamad Joban, the leader of the local Muslim congregation. His article was called "Understanding the Islam view of violence", which was a refreshing improvement from the poor guy who thinks he can cure the pain of the loss of his son by taking someone else's son or daughter. It was also good to see the Imam's writing in the Olympian and his clear statement that "there is no room for violence in the Quran."

Once home, I picked up February's Sun Magazine and found myself immersed in an interview with Kathy Kelly, which described some of her experiences in Iraq. She was in Baghdad when the U.S troops arrived and Saddam's regime fell. I was impressed by her commitment and clear vision for a real compassionate foreign policy. And that love and compassion were the center of her spiritual path.

So it was with these thoughts in my head that I went downtown to join the rally against the war. Several hundred of us lined both sides of Fourth Avenue, from the Heritage Park fountain to halfway up the Fourth Avenue bridge. The vast majority of the responses from those driving on the road were positive. (Note to those already talking on your cell phones: please don't bother to wave. We understand and would prefer at least one hand on the wheel.) I'm sure it won't stop the war, but it felt like time to do something and it was good to see my neighbors out there, too.

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