Sophia's Peace Work

Thursday, December 04, 2003


Is there any value in an American going over to Iraq or to Israel/Palestine to do "peace work"? Right now I am struggling with the question. After all, I am trying to fundraise and gain support for my trip. Questions of effectiveness and purpose always come up when a single individual throws their life into something that is so much larger and deeper than themselves.

I don't know if anyone can really answer these questions. Is there value in an American soldier going over to Iraq to do "peace work"? I guess it depends on your definition of "peace work" and how they go about doing it. Can peace come at the end of a gun? I am not asking this question because I presume to know the answer. I know that there might be some who would say flatly, 'No!' And there are others who would defend the use of force to overcome injustice and oppression. My feelings are not at all clear about it.

I do know that history is riddled with the use of violence to oppose violence. Open any history book and the blood will, metaphorically perhaps, pour out. We've been down this road again, and again, and again. One could make a case that almost every war that was ever fought had its source somewhere in the war that came before it.

From friends and family, I often get the response, "Why should you go? As an American, you’ll be a target. Why should you take the risk?"

Oddly enough, I am confused by this. Shouldn't someone go? Isn’t there value in going? And if there is some value in it, why should I not go? I am single and un-attached. I don't have much to lose and think of what I have to gain! I don't delude myself with notions that I can solve problems that continue to stump the best and brightest. But if there is any value in "peace work," … in being an advocate for peace, in whatever small way I can do that … then there has to be value in my choice to go. Not only value, but honor and, I hope deep humility.

So I wish people would say to me, "You’re going to do peace work in Iraq? In Israel/Palestine? That is fantastic! Good luck to you. Do good work!" ... oh and, "How can I help?"


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