March 19, 2003
IRAQ: Final thoughts – 19 March, 7pm
[Note: Ramzi Kysia works with the Iraq Peace Team, of which the Christian
Peacemaker Team in Iraq is a part. Kysia, a Muslim-American peace activist,
served with the Hebron team in the winter of 2002. His letter has been
edited for length.]
To all my family and friends,
So we’re getting down to it, now, and who knows what the coming hours and
days and weeks will bring? This is going to be my final message for the next
few days – at least. . . . One of the hardest parts of being here, during
this time, is the worry that I know I’m causing all of you.
Today was interesting. You’d think there should be some significance to this
day, some great import given to it by the people of Baghdad, by the
suffering so many here have been through over these long years, by the evil
that is about to be committed here soon – but there hasn’t been anything
particularly significant . . .
In some ways, Baghdad today felt like a city preparing for a hurricane. No
panic, or even great urgency, but less people on the streets & those that
were around quietly preparing for what’s to come – taping windows against
the shock blasts, cleaning up their businesses & putting away supplies. It’s
been very peaceful.
I too am at peace. I mourn for the destruction that is imminent. I mourn for
all the people who will soon die. But I delight in the beauty of everything
around me, and bask in the fellowship of my precious friends here – both
the Iraqis and internationals. . .
I believe that, like the vast majority of people here, I will survive this
storm. But, who knows? I can’t say I’m not in danger. I am in danger – as
are 24 million other human beings who are no different from me except that
they do not have the option of leaving.
After September 11, our politicians seemed to positively delight in
exclaiming that “they” (whoever “they” may be) would “reap the whirlwind.”
It’s an apt metaphor, but I tremble to know that, in the end, this wind
reaps us all.
You’ve asked what good it does for me to be here, to put myself in this
storm. And the only answer I can possibly give you is to gently insist that
– though you may be removed by many miles from this epicenter – you are not
outside the Storm. There is no place outside of it. There is no safe haven.
This wind reaps us all.
If we will not stand against war, and destruction, and death, then we, as a
race – as the human race – will surely perish from this earth. And I love
you all too much to let that happen.
We humans, for all our petty troubles and fears – we are simply too
beautiful to let that happen.
Know that I love each and every one of you, and that I cherish all that we
have been through together, and that I have no regrets whatsoever (aside
from not getting kissed by Sarah Van Allen in the 3rd grade – that, I’m
afraid, I do still regret 🙂
I’m where I need to be, and. . .I feel truly honored to be here.
. . .
ps: btw, if I do live, I expect sushi dinners every night for a week when I
get back home – and lots of chocolate.