Remembering Margaret Hassan
“Giving material goods can help people. If food is needed and we can give it, we do that. If shelter is needed, or books or medicine is needed, and we can give them, we do that. As best we can, we can care for whoever needs our care. Nevertheless, the real transformation takes place when we let go of our attachments and give away what we think we can’t.”
When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron pg. 102
Margaret Hassan lived a life of giving away what we think we can’t. She came to Iraq more than thirty years ago, a foreigner in a land that has been manipulated and oppressed by foreigners for much of the last millennium. Yet she came and lived with the people and grew to love them so much that she became a citizen.
She lived a life of giving away the human need for security. She worked tirelessly for the people of Iraq coping with governments whose human rights record varied from somewhat intolerant to outright oppressive. She lived a life with the people of Iraq, not a life spent behind gates and walls.
Finally it seems as if she gave away her life. Individuals who resort to any means in order to justify their ends appear to have taken it from her. The Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) in Iraq prays that these individuals can reconnect with their humanity. We pray for healing for her family, friends and co-workers. We understand that the Qu’ran teaches that an innocent person who is killed travels as quickly as does light to the gates of Paradise.
While Margaret’s light may now be in Paradise her physical presence is no longer with the people of Iraq. We ask all people who have lived in her light and all who seek the light to resolve to continue the work she began. She lived a life of courage in the midst of fear. We are called to do the same, no matter what the consequences.
CPT has had the privilege of knowing Margaret during the two years that CPT has been in Iraq. She met with a number of visiting delegations and shared with them her vision for the future of her country. One CPT member reflected on his experiences with her, “Margaret and her staff placed their energies into building the future for the people of Iraq. When attackers bombed their warehouse last year, they moved the operation, but continued their efforts with other Iraqis to improving life in this country. Margaret modeled an extravagant way of living for others.”
The Iraq Christian Peacemaker Team