There are children in Afghanistan who have lived with war, corruption, forced migration and death all around them since they were born. Some of them are now teens. Some of them as young as 9 years old. Many of the male adults in their lives are dead. Killed by the British, Soviets, Americans or their own warlords. They continue to ask, "Why?" No one answers.
And in our American smugness we gather to sing "Oh Holy Night", "Silent Night", and songs with similar words and themes. While we continue to bomb the hell out of innocent civilian populations around the world. But, hey, it's not in our backyard, right? So, let's just go buy the latest gadget and forget about drones killing people in the middle of the night. Let's just grab a cup of something hot & spicy while our military continues to try to figure out what the hell they are doing, day after day after year after year. Lets not fret that the children are not our children, after all they live in a god-forsaken corner of the world. Let someone else care. We're busy shopping.
"Peace on earth, goodwill toward men." Maybe you'll pardon me if I don't get all choked up with sentimentality. That could be a nice song if people were sincere when they sang it. But too often these days it is merely trying to drown out the news of Americans killing people and lying about it. (Don't give me that 'war' crap right now. Can't you see I'm trying to celebrate Christmas - the birth day of Jesus Christ?).
You want the number of the boys in Afghanistan, so you can call them and wish them a Merry Christmas? Better hurry. More soldiers, drones and tanks are on the way.
This is a powerful article, written by Jeff Sharlet. It's about the use of religious ideology in war. Here's an excerpt from the article describing events that occurred in Iraq.
Jesus Killed Mohammed
by Jeff Sharlet
Humphrey had been in Samarra for a month, and until that day his stay had been a quiet respite in one of the world’s oldest cities. Not long before, though, there had been a hint of trouble: a briefing in which his squad was warned that any soldier caught desecrating Islamic sites—Samarra is considered a holy city—would fall under “extreme penalty,” a category that can include a general court-martial and prison time. “I heard some guys were vandalizing mosques,” Humphrey says. “Spray-painting ’em with crosses.”
The rest of that Easter was spent under siege. Insurgents held off Bravo Company, which was called in to rescue the men in the compound. Ammunition ran low. A helicopter tried to drop more but missed. As dusk fell, the men prepared four Bradley Fighting Vehicles for a “run and gun” to draw fire away from the compound. Humphrey headed down from the roof to get a briefing. He found his lieutenant, John D. DeGiulio, with a couple of sergeants. They were snickering like schoolboys. They had commissioned the Special Forces interpreter, an Iraqi from Texas, to paint a legend across their Bradley’s armor, in giant red Arabic script.
“What’s it mean?” asked Humphrey.
“Jesus killed Mohammed,” one of the men told him. The soldiers guffawed. JESUS KILLED MOHAMMED was about to cruise into the Iraqi night.
Today marks the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and bombing campaign of Baghdad. Earlier tonight, I went to the Community Observance at St. John's Episcopal, and I am glad that I did. The assembled group of people had very meaningful sentiments to share. It wasn't easy. Empathizing with the loss and suffering experienced by the people of Iraq is painful and grievous.
Deep words of wisdom were exchanged: about the problems associated when governments or groups of people seek to extend their influence and control over other groups of people; about the aspiration for peace between all people of the world, regardless of national borders. So much was said it would be very difficult for me to capture it all in a short time and space.
Based on the results of a credible scientific census study, as many as 1,300,000 Iraqis may have been killed as a result of war-related violence. That's not even to consider the non-fatal casualties, nor those who have been forced to flee. Despite this huge toll of war-related death and destruction, Americans have been kept quite insulated from a ready knowledge of the truly devastating and horrible reality of the situation.
A great wound exists, and in order to heal, there is need for awareness, and acceptance of the problem.
Tomorrow, Friday, March 20th, 2009, the Iraq Memorial to Life will be built. Thousands of symbolic grave markers are ready to be placed in the ground. This is an opportunity to reflect, in a meaningful and deep way, on the true cost of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The memorial will be built in Heritage Park, across from Traditions Cafe, near the corner of 5th Avenue and Water Street (in downtown Olympia, Washington.
Tomorrow, Friday, set up will begin after a short meditation at 8 AM. The opening Ceremony and Dedication are scheduled for 1 PM and 2 PM respectively. An evening vigil will take place at 8 PM.
The Iraq Memorial to Life is on its way. The vision is of a memorial to Iraqis who have been killed as a result of the violence of the war. Planners intend to bring the memorial online in stages, starting with regional displays, which will then be moved to a national memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C..
It's an important project. Although the war has wound down some, people are still dying. And it's no less important to remember all of those who have been killed, and those who have lost loved ones as a result of the war. Conservative estimates peg the war dead at around 100,000. Other scientific estimates, which take into account unreported deaths, range up into the 1.4 million range. It's an impressive toll for 8 years of war.
It's easy to feel removed and distant. But these deaths are real. The dead deserve to be acknowledged in a meaningful and respectful way. The path of healing necessitates awareness and consciousness. What are the true costs of the Iraq war? This project will help to aid in the realization of the true costs of the war...
Those who died are more than "collateral damage." They were human beings with feelings, families, dreams and aspirations. I welcome you to get involved in the Iraq Memorial to Life. iraqmemorialtolife.org
Here's more information about the project from one of its principle organizers:
The Iraq Memorial to Life (IMtL) is being born because you—and your organizations—have been working hard for peace, and to preserve the earth, its inhabitants.
A powerful visual image of gravestones, will be erected here in Olympia on March 20, the anniversary of the US attack in Baghdad.
A symbolic funeral procession took place yesterday in downtown Olympia, Washington to mourn the deaths of so many Palestinians who have died as a result of Israel's ongoing occupation and recently escalated aggression against the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian people suffer under a state of apartheid. The oppression of Palestinians under the tyranny of the State of Israel constitutes a crime against humanity. The recent attacks constitute a crime against peace.
All photos from Saturday, January 17, 2009
Gaza Funeral Procession photoset
via email forwarded from local ai coordinator:
From: Juan Melendez
Subject: Please let ai members know that I will be sharing my story of
supreme injustice as innocent man who spent nearly 18 years on
Florida's death row in Seattle/Tacoma and Lacey, October 1-3:
Dear Amnesty International Coordinator:
Can you please help publicize the following events. I've included
below a little bit about my story and some testimonials to give folks
a sense of the powerfulness of my talk. I am also available to speak
at a middle or high-school in Seattle on Wednesday, October 1, so if
you know of any teachers or student ai groups which might be
interested in bringing me to speak at their school, please let them
know that I am available. A new book has just been published
containing my story as well as the stories of 4 other death row
exonerees. See Execution's Doorstep.
October 3: Talk at St. Martin's University, Lacey, Wa. at 4:00
p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
location update: It seems that Juan Melendez will be at the Worthington Center.
My name is Juan Roberto Melendez. I spent seventeen years, eight
months and one day on Florida's death row for a crime I did not
commit. (Voices United for Justice)
I went to Arlington Northwest at Heritage Park today. I helped set up headstones and did some photography too. I am going to post some of those photographs, and set up a flickr embed to display some more. The whole set can be found here: Arlington Northwest Iraq War Memorial 2008
There were many hands to help set up the memorial, but it still took about 5 hours just to get all the markers in place. Here's a statement published by the Veterans for Peace Rachel Corrie Chapter (VFP 109) about the Memorial:
WHY WE PRESENT THE ARLINGTON NORTHWEST MEMORIAL Veterans for Peace presents the traveling Arlington Northwest Memorial Display and Vigil to support our troops, their families, and our community.
I lined up for this photograph after the regularly scheduled Friday evening Percival Landing peace vigil. The vigil is sponsored by the Olympia F.O.R.. The Friday afternoon/evening vigil has been ongoing on a weekly basis for almost 10 years (since November 1998.)
A similar weekly vigil occurs on Wednesdays from 12 o'clock Noon until 1 pm at the corner of Capitol Way and Legion Avenue, Sylvester Park. The Wednesday vigil has been ongoing weekly for over 28 years, since March 5th, 1980.
Here's me in the picture.
Photo and sign by Glen Anderson of the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation.
Insist that public officials tell the truth.
Stop the war! and...
Create a culture of peace, justice, nonviolence and sustainability!
more information about the t-shirt, including how you can purchase your own: Bush Lied: They Died
I came across this news article in my scan of the news this morning. In it we find that if you insult Islam in the wrong place you will find yourself in court fighting for your life.
The effect this had on me was to appreciate our nation and culture for allowing all points of view, and the freedom to
express these views, with out fear.
Afghan journalist sentenced to death
"KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan journalist sentenced to death for distributing an article that allegedly violated Islam is actually being punished for reporting by his brother about abuses by northern warlords, a media group said Wednesday."