Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The True Faces of War

I saw this photograph on the BBC News website. It's an AP photo of a Pakistani woman soothing her baby as they wait to be interviewed for the refugee camp.

The face of this baby breaks my heart. He/she is already traumatized and so confused. Think of it -- you, your baby, your husband and a few family members have just fled your mountain village in northwest Pakistan. You have spent months debating, worrying, hiding from the Taliban and from the unreliable government forces and even hiding from your neighbors because war brings out the spies and fearmongers. People you have known all your life now interpret your actions to the "authorities".

The girls' school where your niece was a student was attacked by men with acid in bottles. She wasn't at school that day, and you can barely breathe when you think what might have been.

You had to pack a lifetime of memories and possessions in five minutes time. You have so few things wrapped in woven blankets. Your baby, this light of your life, keeps whimpering and clutching at your hair. You murmur, Shush, shush, your momma is here... and the fire starts at your heart and sweeps outward.

You are Mother and Child -- Somalia, Bosnia, India, Burma, Sri Lanka, Dafur. New Orleans, Kabul, Nairobi, Rwanda. Basra, Warsaw, 1940's Europe. You could be Roma, Tamil, Nicaraguan, a 1920's black woman from the backwoods of Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia.

Memorial Day 2009. Remember this woman and this baby. Cry for casualties of living wars -- dislocated Now... threatened Now... dying Now... even as we pray and parade and lay our flowered wreaths on cold stone graves.

Show this photograph to your family and friends and politicians and Congress. This is the violence we do by staying silent and allowing armies to war on our behalf. This is the cost of our "national security".

This is how we nurture the future.

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