IRAQ REFLECTION: Flatlining

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CPTnet
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December 27, 2004
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IRAQ REFLECTION: Flatlining
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<P>by Maxine Nash
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<P>The medical term, &quot;Flatlining,&quot; has to do with a machine connected to an
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individual to monitor their heart. When the heart is beating normally,
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the screen of the monitor shows a mountain range of peaks and valleys,
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indicating the comforting thump-thump of a regularly beating heart.
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<P>When the heart is not working normally, the peaks and valleys may be
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less mountainous, less regular. If the heart dies, the screen shows a
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flat line.
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<P>In my work with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) I have to be careful
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about the flatlining of my own soul. I work in conditions
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where I see so much trauma, so much death and destruction, that part of my
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coping mechanism includes hardening my heart to what I see and hear, just so
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it won't overwhelm me.
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<P>I even hear a few Iraqis mentioning this phenomenon now. One friend said,
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&quot;Every day I see the bombs and the killing on TV. I think I should feel
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badly about this, but I can't because there is so much.
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I must survive, so I can't think about it.&quot;
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<P>I'm not always aware when I'm becoming hardened to my own soul, but it was
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brought back to me yesterday, like an electric shock to a patient who has
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flat-lined. Friends of the team told us that they
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had received a threatening phone call at their home regarding their
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association with foreigners. The friends are scared. How safe is their
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home now, how safe are their children? How would I feel if
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something happened to them?
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<P>It's something the team and I take very seriously. This is an unusual
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situation for CPT because we may have actually increased danger to others.
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&nbsp;We are very careful with our friends and our working partners here and
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continually ask them how they feel about
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being with us. We remind them that they should always feel free to tell
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us if we shouldn't visit, or if we shouldn't be seen with them.
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<P>So why are they still willing to be with us?
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<P>I think it has to do with their own amazing capacity for living full, rich
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lives. They've had so many traumas in the last 20 years, so many reasons
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to harden their hearts. however, they've decided
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not to just live, but to live abundantly. They don't let themselves
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become ruled by fear, but rather move through it with their faith and with
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the idea that life is joyous. In other words, they've rejected flatlining
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as a way of life.
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<P>In our world, that now carries so many messages of fear, we need to be
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reminded that if we harden our hearts we can survive, but it's not the same
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as living.
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