I, as I’m sure the rest of you, have been following closely, the war in Iraq. ‑I want to state that I am one hundred percent American. ‑When one of our soldiers dies, all Americans feel the loss. No soldier dies without being mourned.
I have watched TV as the Iraqi’s fight the American GI’s who were sent there to free them. I understand that they have only known the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein for 30 years. Still, it seemed to me, that being freed from that regime would be the ring of salvation to them, and if not that, then at least they would not murder those who come to free them. ‑I have heard all the talking heads I can stand, and for some reason my mind traveled back to Elmhurst where I was taught a poem that has always stayed with me. It was trying to communicate to those who do not understand that life for them is not as others see it. Who wouldn’t want freedom? ‑Who wouldn’t want Democracy? Why would anyone want to live under a brutal dictator? As Americans, we say: NO ONE! ‑But the more I see of the resistance of the people of Iraq, the more I try to comprehend what they see. Thus, the poem from my youth came back to me. ‑It was written during the lifetime of poet, John Bartlett (1820-1905). I could not shake his words. He said:
Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for a hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone that soar above
Enjoy such liberty.
John Bartlett’s poem was written to Althea from prison. To me, he is saying that even in prison there is freedom if there is freedom in one’s soul. I began to wonder if the people of Iraq have freedom in their souls and do not consider themselves prisoners.
I had a conversation with my editor today and he offered these words:
Two looked out
From prison bars
One saw dirt
The other stars.
This seems to me to be the same expression of looking at the world that one sees as a desolate situation and, another looks at it otherwise, according to his/her beliefs. I realized that all that I see, and all that I think, is relative.
I wish for all of us that the war ends soon. I pray for freedom for the Iraqis, if that is what they desire. My problem is that I don’t know what they desire. I can see millions of dollars going to a cause that we, not they, see as just. (How can we not? We are Americans). ‑I am having trouble with body bags, death reports, children being killed accidentally, and families left behind to grieve on both sides of the war. I watched as our native from here in Louisville, Molly Bingham, was held prisoner of war and then released after 9 days in the worst prison in Iraq. She is a journalist. She comes from one of the richest, if not the richest family in Louisville, and yet, she is there. She is an incredible photographer, and I hope you will note her pictures when they come out. We are making history day by day. I hope we are freeing a people who truly want to be free.
Freedom is priceless. But, I am coming to realize that only to those who appreciate it, pray for it, die for it, and live for it, deserve to have it. Those who choose bars and chains and are not willing to change their lives for the better, should not shoot and kill those willing to fight for them. Not one American should have to die for such people. ‑I am grateful to all those who defend freedom as a way of life. I wish the Iraqi’s appreciated what our soldiers are doing FOR them, not TO them.
Love to all my Waynedale friends,
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