Friday, December 7, 2007
As I reflect on Pearl Harbor with deepest sadness,gratitude, and respect for our American veterans (including my much-loved grandfather), I can't help but compare the U.S. stand on international affairs during WWII to now.
The U.S. was a reluctant participant in WWII, forced to go on the defense after being bombed in Hawaii. One major objective of that war was to end the ceaseless tyranny of Nazi Europe and Japan.
Today's war path against Iraq and the "Axis of Evil" appears to be anti-terrorism on the surface, but with the addition of terms like "Evil" it stinks of a more sinister religious basis. The Iraq conflict is an offensive maneuver--the U.S. is seeking more religious and economic power. 9/11 was a tragedy of horrific proportions and has instilled fear and hatred in Americans, but how did the behavior of an extremist group come to represent the whole of Iraq aggression? While I don't agree with much of Arab customs and politics (I condemn and hate most), it makes me wonder if left alone, would these countries evolve to a higher humanist purpose over time? Discovering the poet and Arab nationalist,Nizar Qabbani, opened my eyes to the fact that their are activists for reason and equality in every race and country. Is it the "job" or right of the U.S. to impose its might and wrath on smaller/weaker people of different ideals? The Arab/U.S. conflict is in realty, a Judeo-Christian indignation at the audacity of others to differ in opinion, culture, and religion (whether you agree or disagree with the conflict--you have to admit it is a deep-seated "my religion and beliefs are better than yours" mission). So, am I Patriotic for seeking a humanist understanding or am I not a patriot for condemning Bush's crusade (in realty Bush is not his own man--he is owned and indebted to the church--as most politicians are owned by major parties)? What a day to bring up the ugly side of today's America or what a day to remember those who gave their lives to help end the suffering of Europe and protect the U.S. from threat in the 1940's?
In an ironic twist, I will share another Arabic poem by Nizar Qabbani
"A Lesson In Drawing"
My son places his paint box in front of me
and asks me to draw a bird for him.
Into the color gray I dip the brush
and draw a square with locks and bars.
Astonishment fills his eyes:
"… But this is a prison, Father,
Don't you know, how to draw a bird?"
And I tell him: "Son, forgive me.
I've forgotten the shapes of birds."
My son puts the drawing book in front of me
and asks me to draw a wheatstalk.
I hold the pen
and draw a gun.
My son mocks my ignorance,
"Don't you know, Father, the difference between a
wheatstalk and a gun?"
I tell him, "Son,
once I used to know the shapes of wheatstalks
the shape of the loaf
the shape of the rose
But in this hardened time
the trees of the forest have joined
the militia men
and the rose wears dull fatigues
In this time of armed wheatstalks
and armed religion
you can't buy a loaf
without finding a gun inside
you can't pluck a rose in the field
without its raising its thorns in your face
you can't buy a book
that doesn't explode between your fingers."
My son sits at the edge of my bed
and asks me to recite a poem,
A tear falls from my eyes onto the pillow.
My son licks it up, astonished, saying:
"But this is a tear, father, not a poem!"
And I tell him:
"When you grow up, my son,
and read the diwan of Arabic poetry
you'll discover that the word and the tear are twins
and the Arabic poem
is no more than a tear wept by writing fingers."
My son lays down his pens, his crayon box in
front of me
and asks me to draw a homeland for him.
The brush trembles in my hands
and I sink, weeping.