As August quickly approaches, i spend my weekends with my son at the ocean, playing hours on end in the surf, or at home behind closed doors, reading and enjoying the air conditioning as the humidity and temperatures outside reach into the 90’s. For most of July thundershowers have brought late afternoon relief, and a respite from the heat. But for me, there has been no respite from the news, and my deep misgivings of the path our country has chosen.
i have been deeply distressed, as i know you are, by the news out of Iraq, Gaza, and Lebanon. i have read endless news accounts of the suffering of civilians while the strongest armies in the world bomb, maim, and kill indiscriminately. The savagery of the attacks and the resulting mayhem has shown the true colors of our government and allies. i sit, incredulous, as our representatives continue to assert this is for the good of the Iraqi, Lebanese, and Gazan people. My disbelief hit an all time high last week, when it was reported that America rushed a fresh supply of “smart” bombs to Israel, (don’t want ‘em to run out of bombs before they’re finished killin’), and the next day announced a 30 million dollar “humanitarian” package for Lebanon- while the bombs, our bombs, were still raining down on Beirut and points south.
As this debacle continues to unfold, i have decided to return to the Middle East on August 20th. The plan, as of now, is to travel to Beirut and bear witness to the suffering of the Lebanese people. As on each of my journeys, i will listen to their stories, and offer myself in any way i can. i will stand in solidarity with the ordinary people of Lebanon who are, yet again, enduring the brunt of war.
Recently and regularly, i am asked, “What good will that do?” To this i respond, “It does good to listen, and give those who are marginalized, demonized, and isolated their voice. It does good to say in the strongest way i can, i oppose the policies of my government and our allies that so callously ignore the suffering of human beings as they pursue their disingenuous ends.” On my return home, i will share what i’ve learned through words and photos so their stories will not be forgotten or ignored.
Another question i often hear- “What about your son---he needs you?” And i remember my time in a small village just outside Jenin when an Israeli soldier purposely shot a child, not much older than my boy, in the leg. With horror and fear etched into his face, he hobbled into my arms. He, too, was my child. He, too, was my responsibility. The children of Qana, the children of Haifa, all the future generations who will inherit the poison of this violence- our responsibility. i do this work for my child as well, that he may recognize that fear, intolerance, and hatred is in each of us, but how we approach these obstacles in our life is our choice. And so he may learn: you must put your faith where you heart is.
So this letter is a request for funding in order to support this trip. On this trip i will be representing many people here at home who are not able to go themselves, and yet feel the need to do something to counter our governments destructive policies in the Middle East. Many of you are already doing enormous work with total dedication and commitment, and each of you guide me in my choices, -thank you, i am already supported greatly by the example you provide!
A final question, (recently raised by my mom, who i thank for the opportunity to clarify this!), is “What’s wrong with you, have you got a death wish?” My answer is simply “i have a life wish.” A teacher (Joan Halifax) once told me “Every moment is an opportunity to carve our heart open.” i view this journey as an opportunity for me to learn of love.
Be well, and Peace, Johnny
Tuesday, August 01, 2006