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Sunday, January 18, 2004

It is a real pleasure to be able to get onto Blogger again and post normally. Thank you, Blogger! I hope this can continue.

I couldn't post at all yesterday, but I could cruise. I have added some new links. I had a really good time, reading the recent posts of my links.

Everyone gets Kudos for being out there, and no one more than Suzette, that indefatigable "search engine", who posts such wonderful entries, guaranteed to cheer you up.

I also have recently discovered A Family in Baghdad, through Salam Pax, and I am amazed at the posts made by "the mother", which she has to get translated into English by what appears to be a team of willing volunteers. During my recent absence from the blogosphere, I was at a large party somewhere on Long Island, where I met a young woman from Iraq, and I was able to tell her about blogging and so on. It was a great experience for me, as I found myself expressing outloud how important I consider these blogs that enable us to see strangers on the other side of the world as actually relevant to our own lives. I am filled with gratitude for all those people who take the trouble to let us all know what it is like to live in a world where a "good deal" at Walmart doesn't mean a thing at all, or if it does, it is that they immediately understand this "good deal" is at the expense of someone else's suffering.

In my own childhood, there was such a scarcity of food that it never occurred to any of us to say you didn't like something, apart from the fact it was not allowed anyway. "Children should be seen and not heard" was the motto where I came from. There was a time my mother sent me with a knife and a large canvas bag to collect weeds along the side of the road, which is the only thing we had to eat at that particular time. So I did not experience the familiar old story of the kid who won't eat what's on his plate, and whose mother says: "Think of all the starving children in China....", and who just wants to say: "Why don't you just send this slop over to that starving kid in China, I don't want it..."

You may wonder what relevance I think this has to what is happening in Iraq these days. Well, it's this.

People on all sides are wondering why the Iraqis have not been allowed to decide their fate for themselves. This is my very own theory:

Statistics say that---some 60% of Iraqis are below the age of 15. That is, they are minors, they are children. And children don't have rights. Grownups decide everything for them. That is why we are not considering their wishes in planning the future of their country.

Does this put a fresh light on everything that is happening?


This is just my very own theory, of course. I am not an expert on anything.

If you apply that theory, the next one is that the Iraqi grownups are somehow all polluted by the past, the Baath, the Saddam regime, the WMD's, the sanctions, the wars, the factions, the communists, whatever your personal hobgobblin bent might be. And, therefore, they are not valid interlocutaries, they deserve to be disenfranchised. Just wave them aside, and take the opinion field unimpeded by any of their protestations.

Does that seem to fit the bill?

Well, nobody wants to face the fact that every human being has his weaknesses, can behave in ways that are less than admirable for no other reason than that they are weak, hungry, in pain, out of hope, or whatever. Nobody wants to face what was allowed to happen in Iraq, or Afghanistan, in the past, what we fostered and allowed to fester in our bumbling, well-meaning but entirely self-serving way.

It's like--people who judge those who steal, who are so sure they would never steal, no matter what the temptation, and I say to them:

Just imagine it is war time, you are a mother alone with two small children, one babe in arms and the other a toddler who doesn't want to walk any more. You are running for safety, all alone in a deserted countryside, and both your kids are crying with hunger. You come across a large container of milk, which has recently been filled by a farmer who has milked his cows in the field right next to the road where you are walking, and whether you have any money on you or not, there is noone to ask permission, no one to pay, tell me truly, would you really not help yourself to some of that milk which is in that container, waiting to be picked up by the cooperative, that milk that will calm your children's hunger, stop their crying, and give all three of you the strength to carry on one more day?

Tell me now you are so sure you would never, ever steal, no matter what. That is just one aspect of what determines one's reality.

Then, tell me you would have the courage to stand up to torture, no matter what. Tell me you would never join some party just to be able to feed your family and hold onto a job. Tell me you are absolutely sure you are some stainless steel, impregnable battle ship, a teflon warrior without a chink in his armor.

If what determines your reality is whether the remote control is within reach, to zap from one channel to another, while your other hand is reaching for the six-pack and the munchies, how likely are you to have a fair picture of what it is like to be living anywhere in Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Chechnia, Algeria, on and on, what about Bam, Iran? The Sudan, Liberia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, come on, name the place you honor with your focus of attention on a regular basis.

We can just look through a chink in the wall, maybe, but you know that once your eye looks through that chink, it can see clearly for quite a ways. As we open ourselves to the pain of others and come to realize it is not separate from our own pain, we share the burden in some mystical way, and even though we have not withdrawn any of the war apparatus from those lands, or cleared the mines, or turned on the electricity and the water spiggots, at least we are not living in a fool's paradise which denies this terrible parallel universe of excruciating anguish.

We may also glimpse the truth that what we are imposing on others, who appear to live so far from us, will come home to live among us, as it already is, in our wounded, our sick, our suicidal children who have lost hope too. Not to mention all those problems that are being ignored right here, such as education, health services, jobs, the environment, the climate changes, etc.

One last thing about children: they do not come into this world with a blank slate, just look into the eyes of a baby, how wise he appears, even before he can vocalize. Who has not had the experience of a bright child who "dumbed down" around puberty, in reaction to his specific environment? Who has not known a child who suddenly had to start wearing glasses, because he no longer wanted to face his reality barefaced? No, really, I'm serious.

There was a child psychiatrist in France called Francoise Nollot (I've got the name wrong, maybe, it sounds like that), she used to talk to babes as if they were grown ups. Her friends would laugh at her and say: "Come on, Francoise, be serious will you. This is just a baby. Do you really think he can understand what you are saying?" And she would answer: "Yes, of course, they understand everything, they are just not able to respond yet." Her experiences are extraordinary and her influence years after her death is still valid today.

As human beings, we all live in our consciousness and our world progresses or regresses according to our ability to communicate.

Thank you, Bloggers All!
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