Monday, May 26, 2008

Mourning: Part 2

So it seams that my last post wasn't written very clearly (thanks, Dan, for the comments!). Following is the original post and below it some explanatory comments.



For the last week and a half I have been taking a class in Reconciliation and Peacemaking at the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at Eastern Mennonite University. It has been an amazing experience being a part of a group of more than 100 people from 40 countries. Friday marked the end of my first class and almost everyone left for the weekend except for myself and Mohammad, a friend from Iraq. Much of yesterday was spent hanging out and chatting with him. I would like to share one of his stories.

One day he was at a large outdoor market buying some things when all of a sudden he saw someone who was acting very weird. He eyed Mohammad and the others in the market. This filled Mohammad with fear. All of a sudden this man stealthily whipped out a gun and quietly locked it. He put it to a man’s head who was walking next to Mohammad and pulled the trigger. The man fell to the ground and everyone froze. The man who shot him then bent down and unzipped the jacket of the man he had just killed. Wrapped around him were sets of dynamite. He was a suicide bomber. The suicide bomber’s killer had himself lost several family members to suicide bombers. Every day he goes to the market searching waiting and searching for other suicide bombers to kill. This was his way to get revenge. “Is this life?” asked Mohammad. “How can I live this way? How can I return to a country like this?“

Meanwhile, here in the U.S. we are mourning the death of our dogs. Yesterday, Mohammad and I were part of a group that went to have dinner at a local Mennonite family’s home here in town. After sitting down for dinner our host told us that they were going to show a memorial slide show for their dog who had died the week before. Some of the neighbors who were present then mentioned that they would like to bring their children over to see it. Lord have mercy. We have no idea what it means to live in Iraq.

Lord, forgive us for ever thinking that we could heal our own pain by instead inflicting it on others.

On this Memorial day Monday, let us not only mourn the deaths of those who we consider our own in an act of blind nationalism, but let us mourn the deaths of all who suffer from death and war. Let us mourn the 4,080 U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq and let us also mourn the between 60,000 and 1,000,000 Iraqi’s who have died in the course of the war. Let us recognize our common suffering and let us pray for peace.
Comments: all suffering is suffering and it is dangerous to try to rate it on a scale. If I communicated something different in my previous post, then I was wrong. What I meant to do was show the strong contrast between life here and life in Iraq, that is somewhat a consequence of our actions as the U.S.

We have no idea what it means to live in Iraq and worry daily about being shot on account of your ethnicity, for example. Yes, we do have our share of suffering, but in many ways we live very sheltered lives. 9/11, for example, was a tremendous shock to us, but in much of the world this kind of thing is a daily reality.

Also, here we have the privilege of having dogs as pets, treating them as family members and then mourning their deaths. I am not saying that mourning a pet is wrong, but that it is a sort of "privilege," per se, that much of the world does not have. In much of the world it is incomprehensible that we, for one, have the abundance of resources to treat even our animals this way, and secondly, that we in fact do so. Our pet aisle in the grocery store, for example, is much larger and longer than most other "human food" aisles in global south grocery stores.

Last, I was trying to say that simply mourning for those who share our same nationality is wrong. As Christians we are part of a larger body that transcends nation-state lines. We should lament that war has killed Americans and Iraqis, Americans and Afghanis, tutsi and hutus, kenyans, etc.

I love being in dialog about these things, so keep the comments and emails coming!



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