Sophia's Peace Work

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Passing on the Cycle to our children

I've been back in the Northwest for about two weeks now … last night was my first presentation to my hometown community … organized by the Port Townsend Peace Movement (a group that has greatly supported me in my travels and misadventures). We had a good crowd … my presentation was partially on Iraq and partially on Israel/Palestine but almost all the questions at the end were about Iraq (people are generally more interested in their own occupations rather than just occupations they merely support). Toward the end of my presentation I showed some rather graphic pictures from the recent fighting in Fallujah (wounded Americans/dead resistance) but I ended with a shot of an 11-year old girl dressed up by her father as a resistance fighter, rifle included.

"This is my last shot and was taken by a friend during the 1st Fallujah invasion in April." I said, "I want to end my presentation on this image. In all the proceeding photos I have just shown you from Fallujah, I think it's important to remember that many of the U.S. soldiers who are fighting in Iraq as well as their commanders that send them into battle truly do believe that they are fighting for good, for freedom, and for democracy in Iraq. This is the fulfillment of everything we are taught from childhood up. Oppose evil and stand up for what is right."

I paused a little to emphasize my next words and said, "But what I would like to point out is that the people fighting our troops in Iraq believe that they are doing the exact same thing."

"Both sides feel that they are fighting against evil," I continued, "American troops write home stories about how they are going after the 'bad guys' and the Resistance is calling their enemy the 'Great Satan.' This is what I find most tragic about these conflicts, whether you talk about Iraq or Israel/Palestine. By viewing the 'Other' as inherently evil, it allows us to perpetrate evils acts upon them … so that in the end we become as evil as that which we oppose."

I pointed to the picture of the young girl all dressed up as a resistance fighter, "And we are passing on this never-ending battle to the children who will follow us … making sure that they can continue the fight forever."


And so with this I'll end my discussions and reflections on my journey this past year to live under occupation in Iraq and in Israel/Palestine. I'm about to start a new chapter of my life working for an environmental organization in Iraq but I'll will try to continue updating this web log as time allows and keep an accurate record of my new work and experiences in the Middle East.

Below I've just included a few images to liven up this often very wordy web log.

11-year old girl from Fallujah, April 2003, Photo by Donna Mulhearn

Sophia back in the Northwest

Presentation in Port Townsend

With the Tigris River Project Banner