If you need something else to think about

April 17, 2007

Last night at yoga, our teacher had us meditate for those at VT. She reminded us that when it seems like the world makes no sense and that there is nothing good that there still is sense and goodness and potential everywhere. She reminded us that knowing this is an effort all unto itself, and that we have to work to find it and work to create our own peace so that one day the world can be peaceful too.

It’s hard to keep up that kind of thinking when we are not in yoga.

But two things I wanted to share in case you, like me, are trying.

One is this poem by Naomi Shihab Nye.

The other is something I saw last night watching the documentary My Country, My Country. It follows an Iraqi doctor living in Baghdad as the January 30, 2005 elections were being prepared for. It is a heartbreaking film in many ways, but perhaps with the voice of my yoga instructor in  my mind, I tried to find something to salvage from the corruption, betrayal, and selfishness so obviously pervading the American occupation of Iraq. What I found was the scene where an army commander is briefing new arrivals into Iraq. At first, he seems patronizing and as head-up-his-ass’ed as any other American military officer seen on the documentary. He makes a lame joke about some Arabic graffiti translating into “Baghdad is still safer than Michael Jackson’s house.” Then he  moves a little further on into his powerpoint and shows the soldiers a photo of two Iraqi interpreters who were executed in their car. When he says their names, his voice breaks. He paces around the table with the slide projector and pretends to cough, but when he speaks again his voice is husky. And it remains so. There is no close-up shot of him, but between his voice and the way he shields his eyes from the soldiers, it is clear that he is trying not to cry. It’s like a physical reaction to seeing their pictures and speaking their names. The last thing he would want, but there it is. In the midst of a war zone, this man who pretends to be so battle-hardened and tough cannot hide his pain in front of his inferiors. He is still a human being. Misguided, misplaced, chronically short-sighted, but a human being who made human contact with people who have become his enemy.

The humanity does not counteract the pain, the mistakes, the lack of good choices, the senseless death. It just is and remains, despite and still.


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