Friday, October 31, 2008


As i write this it is late afternoon at a small art foundation in Amman. I sit in the garden with a small fountain in the center and the last of the jasmine cascading down a wall. A butterfly stands immobile on a flower. I look closer to see if it is alive it opens its wings once, and then remains still. I sit at a small stone table directly outside a building that houses and art installation by Jane Frere called "Return of the Soul". Ms. Frere was moved to examine the Palestinian Nakba after visiting Nazi concentration camps. The "Return of the Soul" focuses on the act of remembering. As part of the installation Ms. Frere recorded interviews with Palestinians who were recalling their exodus from Palestine in 1948. Their voices echo throughout the room and escape out into the garden where i sit. As the sun sinks to the horizon a cool breeze stirs. Sitting in the peaceful garden i am slowly surrounded by ghosts of other peoples uprooted from their home and forced into exile.

I reflect for a moment on all the technological advances over the last two dozen years, the tracing of the human genome, computer technology, cell phones, satellite technology and the internet. The huge advances we have made in medicine and science and the backwards steps we have taken in warfare. Smart bombs, drones, depleted uranium munitions.

Then the Palestinian ghosts remind me, "I fled barefoot with my three year old sister on my shoulders." "We ran from the house with nothing, I thought we would return home in a matter of days." "They rounded up my brother and uncles, we never saw them again." "We walked for eighteen hours, until we dropped from exhaustion." They are joined by the ghosts of Vietnam. "My daughter was covered in napalm, she died an agonizing death." "The helicopters circled the village, killing anything that moved." "Our village was burned to the ground, nothing survived." "We fled barefoot, through the night." The ghosts of World War II chimed in. Talking of the cattle cars and suffocation, the round ups, woman pulled from their children, the mass graves, the hissing gas filling the chamber as woman cried out in anguish. Then the voices of millions of Africans joined in. Until today they are on the move, searching for food and security and an end to violence. Voices from "good" wars and "bad" wars all cried out, a chorus of pain and fear.

But their song was not empty or hopeless. Their song was a song of remembrance, dedicated to those who remain and strive to end war as a tool of governments. A song of remembrance dedicated to those who strive to end the production of more powerful weapons of destruction and dislocation. A song of remembrance sung to those who would shift their minds from living lives in fear of scarcity and selling this delusion to the world along with our bombs, bullets, and guns.

Then i thought i was dreaming because i imagined for a moment that we immediately and unconditionally ended our cold hearted occupation of Iraq and spent the 1.3 billion dollars (or whatever this weeks absurd tally amounts to) per week on peace- On clean water, food, electricity, education and rebuilding all we have destroyed. What then? Forgive me, for now i am delving into fantasy. But perhaps for a moment we could allow the ghosts of war a moment of peace. And what if this crazy idea took hold around the world and human beings could focus just for one moment on providing instead of destroying? The one thing life affords us free of charge and in abundance is love. All the sages speak of it, honor it, and develop a capacity to nurture it. It is not necessary to deprive one single sentient being in order to obtain it. Love's supply is limitless and not a single being needs to change in order for you to express it. It's benefits are immediately apparent to anyone who is willing to share it.

I hear a child laugh out loud. Startled, I look up. The voices are silenced. A breeze rustles through the jasmine as night falls. A man gestures to me that it is time to go. I step out into the busy street as a gentle rain begins to fall.