Nov. 8, 2004Articles and commentary regarding world events

Pray for Fallujah, a decimated city,
Pray for the people of Fallujah, frightened and homeless,
Pray for the young Americans, risking their lives for their country,
Pray for the Iraqis, and for the families who weep,
Pray for the hearts of mankind, needing to open,
Pray for the America we love, in terrible danger.

     As with Najaf, the presence of the wounded and the dying, the homeless and the frightened, calls out to us from Fallujah. The degre of suffering being caused here in the name of Iraqi freedom, in the name of peace and democracy, is heart-wrenching. So many are bewildered as to how this could be taking place at all. So many wonder how such destruction and death can be justified by what represents itself as a policy of 'liberation'. Just as heart-wrenching are the young people, the ground forces - so often innocent, so often infused with the virtue and goodness of what they are doing - who hold onto their bright ideals, their sense of rightness and mission which act as an antidote to fear.

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     The following two articles are part of a weblog called "Empire Notes" by Rahul Mahajan, an author and New York University professor. They are stirring, immediate, and powerful. They bring us into direct connection with the people of Fallujah in a way that the American media does not. In these articles, we see the falseness, on so many levels, of the U.S.- led invasion. Falseness in terms of the way in which it is justified; falseness in the way in which it is carried out (ie. with "precision strikes" that minimize civilian casualties); falseness in the efforts made to persuade the public that the battle against this 'stronghold of insurgency' is the only way to create an environment in which the January elections can take place.

     The heart cries out for the people of Fallujah as well it should, and also for the people of America, many of whom have been mesmerized into accepting the present administration's version of why we are doing what we are doing there.

     If you read nothing else about Fallujah, please read these first two articles:

"Report from Fallujah: Destroying a town in order to save it." (April 12, 2004)

"Fallujah and the reality of war." (Nov., 2004)

     To learn more about another way of bringing about conciliation between different factions within Iraq, read both:

"Annan warns against Iraq assault." (Nov. 5, 2004)


"Muslim Troops to Help Organize Elections in Iraq? No Thanks. It Would Interfere With Our Attempts to Bring Democracy." (Oct. 18, 2004)

This has useful information in it if you can disregard the tone.

     The articles which follow are powerful in their own right. To read about the attitudes of these young Americans who are going into battle, willing to die for their country - takes the breath away.

"G.I.'s itch to prove their mettle in Fallujah." (Nov. 5, 2004)

"Holy War: Evangelical Marines Prepare to Battle Barbarians." (Nov. 7, 2004).

     All of this is deeply disturbing, yet we must feel it and know about it. To get a feel for the destruction involved, from a source presently in the midst of it, read:

"Carnage and martial law." (Nov. 7, 2004).

Also, look at the pictures for the Nov. 7th entry from the weblog "Under the Same Sun":

     What is left to say about this, other than that we must let our hearts respond to what is happening. We must let our hearts feel pain, if need be, in response to the needless suffering engendered by U.S. policy.

     Needless suffering... how much we would wish to prevent it, to create a world in which it does not occur. And yet, this is where we are - in the midst of acts of terrorism and acts of war that give lip-service to lofty goals yet justify acts of violence. Also, we are in the midst of what must become clearer and nameable as 'false idealism' - idealism that takes a wish and motive that is true and pure and taints it with a willingness to seek its attainment through means that are wrong.

     Sadness and sorrow for Fallujah, for Iraq, for America. And at the same time, knowledge that darkness will only have its 'day' - a day and time in which it will appear to be in the ascendant. Following this and even while it is taking place, the invisible light of God gets stronger. We need to look for it in our hearts and to call it forth from our souls. We need to remain steadfast in the light.

What is a man made of? A commentary on the life of Yasser Arafat.

     Yasser Arafat's serious illness and the possibility of his death encourage us to look once again at the life and legacy of a man and what it has meant to others.

     Mohammed Abder Rauf Arafat al-Kudwa al-Husseini was born in Jerusalem in 1929 of Egyptian parents. He adopted the name Yasser meaning 'easy-going' adding ABU AMAR after a companion of the Prophet Muhammad. He is a practising Muslim, has performed the Haj to Mecca, and wears a pendant engraved with a verse from the Qur'an.

          From: "The Peace Encylopedia"

As a way of summarizing the political aspects of his life and its influence on a people, the following article is worth reading:

"After Arafat: Accountability." (Nov. 5, 2004)

     This article, written by the Executive Editor of the Beirut-based newspaper, Daily Star, says, about Arafat:

     Palestinians love and honor him because of his dogged ability to carry the banner of Palestinian rights throughout the world, and gain universal support for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. His greatness, and the reason his people always backed him in the face of Israeli, American and occasional Arab attacks, was his symbolism of the powerful Palestinian will to struggle against enormous odds.

      The above article offers an excellent historical analysis of Chairman Arafat's considerable influence on Palestinian history and politics. Describing his primary contribution in terms of 'ideology' and his primary deficit in terms of 'biology', (or, the holding on to power long after he should have let it go), the author paints a broad picture of what Arafat's contribution has been in the shaping of a nation. Unfortunately, in treating his life, he also leaves out entirely the issue of Arafat's support of terrorist activities through al Fatah and Hamas. This oversimplification of a man and his legacy is perhaps based on the author's point of view about such activities. Nevertheless, the article does an excellent job in picturing the positive legacy of an historical figure and in helping us understand more deeply how the action, beliefs, and destiny of one person can overlap with the destiny of a people.

     The fact that Yasser Arafat's leadership has been tainted by violence which he directly or indirectly supported is something that we each must grapple with as we appraise the influence of a man. For in seeking to understand anyone, we must hold in our hearts both compassion and truthfulness. As we do so, we learn something important - that most people, political leaders as well as the 'man-on-the-street', terrorists as well peace activists, are complex in their motives. High idealism may combine in someone with the worst kinds of darkness. Often, the idealism is far from pure. That doesn't mean that it is not real. It means that it can easily be corrupted by a willingness to sacrifice other fundamental ideals in service to the more immediate goal or vision. Such goals as the establishment of a Palestinian nation, the protection of Islamic life and culture, U.S. national security, and even the goal of 'creating peace', may all be virtuous in themselves but pursued by methods that are not so.

     Sometimes the noblest ideals can be greatly corrupted by darker motives. Sometimes, the truly great price of causing many deaths and much suffering to others is seen as a small price to pay for the more sought after goal. The perpetrators of Sept. 11th held this view. The perpetrators of violence to innocents in Iraq hold this view, however unconsciously.

     As we grow spiritually, we learn how to hold ideals and how to stabilize them in the light. We learn that the end does not and cannot justify the means, that the means and the end must be made of the same thing. We learn that no matter how light-filled, noble, or compassionate a wish may be, if we are willing to stray from love in order to accomplish it, if we are willing to leave love and respect for life behind, we will not be able to achieve what we most desire. In this sense, peace of an enduring kind cannot be achieved through war. A 'strategic' peace may, indeed, be accomplished, backed up by an ongoing military or civilian presence, but not a lasting peace. Nor can respect be achieved through coercion or the creation of fear. Thus, whether leader or follower, whether powerful or powerless, the same principle holds true - the highest ideals that mankind strives for, the ideals that are of God - peace, harmony, respect, love, freedom - cannot be achieved by violent means.

      How then can they be achieved? Such ideals can only be achieved by inner transformation which allows the convergence in an organic way, between two or more dissimilar points of view. For this to happen, we must be committed to peace not only outwardly, but inwardly. We must be committed, and we must be patient at the same time. We must work toward the goal, and we must listen, in order to become able to reconcile differences that are the obstacles to peace.

     This was not Yasser Arafat's life. He was a soldier, not a peacemaker - even though he was awarded one-third of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. His character and life were built on a foundation of responding militarily or through counterforce to Israeli provocations. And though his ideology and behavior united a people against something and preserved their identity, it ultimately did not create peace, nor has it yet created nationhood, though it has certainly fostered movement in that direction and created sympathy, on the world stage, for that movement.

     To return to the question of the legacy of Yasser Arafat, in our hearts we must honor the good in him - the love, loyalty, courage, and vision that aligned him with the suffering of a people, with their hopes and dreams. But we cannot align with the entirety of means he employed with which to achieve his goals. Arafat hovered between passionate idealism and a desire to end oppression for his people, and a lack of vision which caused him to be limited in the ways in which he could achieve his aims. Thus he was both protector and avenger. Both idealist and terrorist. It is within this context that we can honor him as a leader and representative of a people at a deeply troubled time in their history.

     This dual action of honoring and disavowing is important for each of us to learn to do. For among the world's great and among the ordinary, the mixture of light and darkness can be plentiful on both sides and we must be willing to praise what is of the light while not aligning with that which is of darkness. In the end, compassion wedded with truth will enable us to be clear-sighted in our appraisal of others. Neither one, on their own, can paint a complete picture, but both together can help us appreciate the expression of a soul upon the earth.

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The purpose of Light Omega is to bring us all into greater planetary consciousness with awareness of the suffering of others and with a willingness to remain awake to the challenges, dangers, and possibilities we face today.

     Julie Redstone