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Mary Rives

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Walking for peace is spiritual
by Mary Rives
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
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Refections on the impact of the war the US wages in Iraq.

March 26, 2003

The Iraqi people have been greatly suffering from the horrors that modern warfare has created for them since our war on Iraq more than a decade ago. For the survivors, depleted uranium from our country’s bombs has caused multiple forms of cancers, birth deformities and slow, painful deaths. In spite of this knowledge, the US has done nothing to help the Iraqi people. In fact, since the first war in Iraq, the US and Britain has imposed relentless and inhumane economic sanctions that have brought serious harm and death to innocent Iraqi men, women, and children. Easily preventable diseases, malnutrition and starvation, extreme poverty, lacking sanitation and basic medical supplies have all contributed to the deaths of more than one and half million Iraqi people. Most of these preventable deaths are the direct consequences of the sanctions against Iraq. Even though the US government has been consistently unwilling to lift the sanctions, the majority of Iraqi’s who have endured these atrocious living and dying conditions have done their best to survive and to rebuild their families, their homes and their communities. Like the US, contrary to popular belief, the Iraqi government does supply its poor with emergency food supplies, but with the imposed economic sanctions, it has not been enough to solve this ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Just as this poor country begins to recover from the devastation of the previous war, the whole cycle begins again. Innocent sentient beings are being killed, maimed, and dismembered and/or are witnessing their own loved ones die needless violent deaths from our “precision bombs”. Why? Because the leader of their country stayed to defend his country rather than hand it over to a country who clearly seeks to gain economic control of Iraq’s oil resources? Because they don’t care to allow the same to violently assert our dominance in the Muslim world? Wake up, America, stop fooling yourselves, this is not a liberation. This is an illegal invasion/occupation!

As this second war against the suffering people of Iraq is again bringing great harm to many, I find my heart breaking open in a deeply felt compassion and caring for every being involved around the whole planet. I am experiencing the deepest angst of my life since my friend Woody was murdered by police as he wept for help, and since what should have resulted in justice quickly became an ugly, dark, cover-up of what really happened. I find myself, once again, estranged from my family of origin who are catholic (I write Catholic with a little “c” because they are following Bush’s politics over the spiritual leader of their religion!). I am overwhelmed by the media’s “embe ddedness” with the military and how the American people are so easily steered away from lacking factual evidence that there is no proven link between 9/11 and Iraq to support this war, and by the fact that people are so willing to think that our revengeful terror on a far-away Arab country will somehow make might right and even the score. Bombing the shit out of Afghanistan wasn’t enough. Taking away our civil rights and liberties isn’t enough. And knowing that the Iraqi people don’t want, welcome or need our so-called “liberation” and “democracy” isn’t enough to stop us from this gravely misled and delusional

Thich Nhat Hanh tells us, “Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect life and prevent war.” The Ten Commandments tells us “Thou shall not kill” and Jesus Christ taught others to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us, to love our enemies, and to turn the other cheek”. H.H. The Lalai Lama encourages people of all walks of life to bring about world peace through internal transformation first. He believes that love, compassion and altruism are the fundamental basis for peace and that, once these qualities are developed within an individual, he or she is then able to create an atmosphere of peace and harmony. This atmosphere, he states, can be expanded and extended from the individual to his/her family, from the family to the community, and eventually to the whole world.

Peace is every step.

The shining red sun is my heart.

Each flower smiles with me.

How green, how fresh all that grows.

How cool the wind blows.

Peace is every step.

It turns the endless path to joy.

--A great bodhisattva, Thich Nhat Hanh

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