Tuesday, June 21, 2005

For the Sake of Our Children

A colleague and I walked to a shop to pick up an order. The shop owner told us how very depressed she is regarding the ongoing security and infrastructure crisis in Iraq. She feels, as do many Iraqis, that things are getting worse not better. She said she is beginning to feel as if her life has no meaning beyond working nine hours a day, six days a week. A co-worker did not dispute her assessment of the situation but made an impassioned plea never to give up hope for a better future. And even more importantly to never stop working to help bring that better future to come to pass. The co-worker concluded by saying, “Things probably won’t get better in my lifetime but I will keep working to make things better for the sake of our children.”

Our apartment is across the street from a park. Many evenings around the time we are gathering for supper a mother and her three children walk by our living room window. The western sun illuminates her face and the faces of her young children. I don’t know her but in a way I feel I do. She looks tired. So many, many people here in Iraq are so very tired. She looks a bit fearful. Will today be the day when the insurgents set off a car bomb near the park? Will today be the day when the young men of the Iraqi National Guard, riding like cowboys in the back of their pickup trucks, get trigger happy and start shooting with her and her children in the line of fire? Yet day after day I see her taking her children to the park. Underneath the fatigue and the fear I can sense the hope and the courage in her heart. It reflects on her children as does the setting sun reflect on the nearby Tigris River. She gives me courage to face the overwhelming difficulties of life in this broken land. She is living in the present moment fully aware of the dangers and uncertainties and yet she has not given up hope, she has not given in to despair, she has not let herself be driven into hiding by men with guns and bombs. She is my teacher. She teaches me how to live fully conscious of the horrors of today and still be able to envision a future of promise, peace and plenty. I would pray that we all live each day, no matter where we are, “for the sake of our children.”

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