On New Years Day, 2006, in Iraq, I wrote:

“The New Year began in Baghdad with firecrackers and colorful fireworks, but also with bombs and shootings that killed at least twenty people. I wrote the following to friends back home:

“New Years symbolizes hope for new possibilities, but it's a struggle for Iraqis to maintain hope when the changes in their society have resulted in greater insecurity and continued violence.

One of the effects of kidnappings, killings, and bombings, whether done by the resistance or the state, is to instill fear in the people. This fear leads to feelings of helplessness and paralysis and drains the hope that change is possible. People become afraid to speak out and take action against injustice. We see this in Iraqis, and we find it creeping into our consciousness as well. We, as peacemakers, often feel pressure from others to be more realistic in our work, to see that the world's economic, military and governmental structures are so strong and entrenched that they are truly impossible to change.

We know that when we work for change, we can be eliminated any time our work is seen as threatening to those wielding power. The world's networks of violence appear overpowering, but we must not be seduced into believing that they are invincible.

 I continue to believe that the power of truth and love is stronger than all these forces. This does not mean that there won't be struggle and suffering. It is when the dissent is having a powerful effect and the structures of power feel threatened, that the greatest crackdown occurs. We are encouraged when we walk alongside courageous Iraqi people who daily take risks to address injustice and corruption.

(adapted from Walking Through Fire: Iraqis’ Struggle For Justice and Reconciliation, (p. 95) by Peggy Faw Gish, Cascade Books, 2013)

 

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