How Can We Help in Iraq?
If to every season there is a purpose, then what is our purpose in a season of war?
As warfare in Iraq drags toward a first anniversary March 19, the dispiriting daily images—of our fellow Americans wielding M-16 s, of burning Humvees, of Iraqis dead or angry—can numb our senses, tire our spirits. No matter how great our impulse to compassion, it can wilt from a year of pictures like this of four-year-old Ali Mustafa, shattered by shrapnel from an American cluster bomblet he played with in his Baghdad neighborhood.
Our purpose is clouded, too, by a sense of powerlessness. Policy is made by governments, not private citizens. Iraq's convulsions of violence have driven out the United Nations and many humanitarian agencies. So what might a mere person or family or congregation hope to do to act on our concern about the worth and dignity of every person, to help heal Iraqis? For Iraqi children and for our own, what should be our purpose in this season of war?
Two Unitarian Universalist writers, one an Arabic-speaking foreign correspondent reporting from Baghdad ("Simple Acts of Kindness" by James Rupert) and the other an essayist raising a young son in Indiana ("'Kids as Sacred as Mine'" by Denise Breeden-Ost), explore these questions in the following pages. And we offer tools for responding ("Supporting Relief Efforts") —a list of organizations that need support for their work helping the people of Iraq.