from univ. of mich to villanova

[email protected]

Dear Editor, (please feel free to use any part of this letter)I am like you. I am humbled by the smallness of my voice in this world, but I am liberated by the belief that one good idea can resound across the world, and it begins with you.If you are a child, an adult, a mother, a father, a student, a teacher, an economist, an environmentalist, a politician, a citizen, an American, an Iraqi, a European, an Asian, a Christian, a Muslim…if you are a member of the human race, this concerns you in ways that we often ignore in our small spheres. This is not an appeal of anger. It is not an appeal of force. It is not an appeal of political activism. This is an appeal for humanity, to save lives that could be lost on all sides, in all places, without justification. Do not take to the streets in anger. Anger begets anger. Do not hide in your homes in fear. Fear begets fear. This is a plea, assemble in the most public place you can. Bring as many people as you can. You don’t have to say a word. Don’t bring slanderous signs. There is strength in silence. Just light a candle, 8:00, January 26, 2003. Light up the minds of the world to show how many of us want peace. One light around the country, around the world, is a light that can be seen in your city, in the White House, in the world. Let me tell you why…If you are a patriot (and if you are not, read on, you have a voice too), you love this great country. It stands for freedom and the right to protect it. It has been a great leader of the world for many years and you would like to see it maintain that leadership. Part of the strategy to maintaining that kind of strength lies in introspection. Focus on the core of the nation, its people. Focusing on war in Iraq will divert needed attention and resources from education, economics, and domestic policy. No person who loves this country wants to see it corrode internally while pursuing a war mostly unrelated to its well-being.Why is Iraq unrelated? Iraq is a very poor country, with an oil position unlikely to become better after a war. Attacking it will only plunge it into further poverty and risk its oil resources as Saddam sets them on fire. Saddam Hussein will not suffer, his people will.But what about Saddam Hussein? That is exactly the question, what is important about him? He is paralyzed within his own fortress he has created. Aside from the fact that the first Gulf War did not topple him, he has no principle way to gain power. He is a man standing on a castle of sand. The rest of the Middle East and his own people do not respect him. He does not have the means to become an extreme threat in terms of the relative other threats in world politics. His time will pass, as that of all paranoid dictators does, and a new group will take power. His regime is not strong enough to succeed him.Who will the new group be, and what if the US does not have a say? It will not be of great significance to the US either. Nation building has not served the US well in the past. Building a government incongruent with the national sentiment only leads to violent revolution. A common fear is that it will become an Islamic government similar to Iran. This is very likely, yet an unfounded fear. Islam is a peaceful religion. No nation has ever attacked another nation; thus far, in the name of Islam (while many have fought for Islam, it has never been a nationally sanctioned attack). Though it is true there is a common anti-Western sentiment in many Iranian speeches, it can in many ways be thought of as futile rhetoric much like the comments exchanged during the Cold War. The Cold War was also built on fear that was needless, and eventually, died out because no physical war ever escalated.What about terrorists? Terrorism is a horrible thing and the outcome never justifies the means. It is the greatest tragedy to human innocence. Yet it has no face, no nation, no religion, it is the face of fear. Fear that has turned to a misunderstood anger and evil. Imagine growing up in a place where there is no media or information. Where you have lost your loved ones, where you have suffered. You are left with no reasons, no answers, nothing but your faith. Truly evil people, people with education, money, and power to know better, take advantage of such sufferers. Instead of lifting them up, they feed them dreams of salvation if they attack the proposed source of their pain. They never imagine the humanity, the face, or the innocence of their victims. They only surround themselves in an illusion. We must end the evil of their powerful teachers. They are few and they are elusive, but they are not in Iraq. As for those they seduce, we must take them out of fear and poverty. Only in this illumination will they begin to understand humanity. Yet, they are not in Iraq either. As for the interest of oil, it is hardly worth fighting for from a political or economic standpoint. It is a resource that will disappear within many of our lifetimes. Real power lies in the hands of those who will come up with a new source of energy. Fighting for such a short-term interest is not in any nation’s long-term interest. Most empires throughout history have fallen as a result of short-term thinking, arrogance, and foreign wars as a way to cling to hegemony. Economists, the rise in oil price is not the only affect of a war. The price of air travel, anything transported by land including basic food, will increase. People will stop buying such high priced goods, companies will take losses (not mention the huge loss the auto industry will take) crippling the US economy, and therefore the world’s.For Republicans and Democrats alike. Do not associate this struggle with the President or party politics. No matter who makes the decision to go to war, it will still cost lives. It is time to stop blaming Bush and look to our own decisions. Respect the President as a great leader. Great leaders must always be great listeners, so let him hear and see our plea for peace. There is no shame in backing down from a war even after it has gained such momentum. There is no shame in saving human life. It is certain that the Bush family has many reasons to wish to punish Saddam Hussein, however none of them will be acquiesced by attacking the Iraqi people. If George W. Bush wants to really show Saddam who is the most powerful leader, he should lead his own people to a prosperous and peaceful future. Don’t give Saddam a reason to fight. Leave him to childish cartoons and useless public displays of effigies. A wise man is often the silent one.If you are Iraqi, it is needless to say why you should be against war. The awful poverty, the lives lost, the soldiers forced to fight. Remember the images of the soldiers surrendering to the army after the last war. Do not believe in fighting for pride. There is no pride in sacrificing a child for a political game that is a mere scratch in the historical record. Fighting this war is not fighting for Iraq, it is fighting for Saddam Hussein, a man who cares nothing for his people. This war is not about national pride. Iraqi dissidents, if you have escaped the horrors of war, do not inflict it upon someone else. You may desire to uproot Saddam Hussein, but war seems to leave him safe still. Yet your people suffer for him. Spare your people what you have been spared.Americans, it is hard to imagine the horrors of war because of the impersonal and technological way it is fought. But September 11 was horrifyingly close. It brought sorrow, fear, confusion, something that no one would ever wish on anyone. Do not wish it upon the Iraqis to face such fear everyday. Heal the nation with understanding and peace, instead of continuing to wound it with useless bloodshed. The safety of the US during the Gulf War has misled the nation into believing that war is bloodless. It makes a decision to agree with war easier. However statistically, this war will be a ground war much different from the previous war and may extend into the brutal summer for which there is no rescue. When soldiers begin to die, the lists of dead compile, and the draft potentially becomes enacted, will you remember why you thought war was a good idea before? It is almost certain, Saddam Hussein will still be standing, even if some of the ones we love are not.So how do we stop terrorism if there is no war? We already spoke of the resolution of poverty and the introduction of education. Bombing Iraq is not a solution. The lines of the Middle Eastern countries were only recently drawn by the West. Most people from the Middle East identify themselves in a number of ways, before they identify themselves as a national citizen. Therefore attacking any single nation is not going to be able to identify terrorists. Islam is a peaceful religion and this is in no way associating the religion with breeding terrorism. For this argument only, we can only refer to its commonality as the religion of terrorists of recent events. Many people throughout the Middle East feel sympathy for each other in terms of their common bond through Islam or being Arabic. They understand what it feels like to lose a loved one or suffer on this basis. While many Middle Eastern countries’ politicians may support the US based on their fear of Saddam, the people will still have this empathy for the Iraqi people and identify themselves as possible victims. Such intense fear and misunderstanding is the source of terrorism. So though Iraq will potentially be destroyed, the threat of terrorism will increase as it will never possible to monitor all proliferation of weapons. Historical students, imagine how cruel the Crusades seemed. Two religions clashing needlessly. After so many centuries have we learned nothing? Is this war not metaphorical for a war of Christianity versus Islam?Christians, it is needless to say that your religion is founded on peace. And if you believe in sacrificing an eye for an eye, realize, that Iraq has taken no ones eyes. Do not feel scorn and fear of Islam. In fact, it is a religion with a Qu’ran very similar to the Bible and maintains Jesus Christ as a prophet although not Divine. You may marvel at some of the practices of Islam, but imagine this, Islam was founded some 700 years after Christianity, it is young in comparison. Do you remember the Christian society 700 years ago? Women covered their hair, were hidden in their homes, many things were forbidden that are not today, there was the Inquisition, and the Church often was merged with the State. Islam has been forced to clash with the modern values at a much earlier state.Muslims, do not feel hatred towards the West. Inform those who do not understand you, do not hide from them. The general misunderstanding of the West towards Islam is only based on the fact that most of the men who have utilized Western media in the name of Islam have been very explosive and volatile people. The West is not a source of evil. It is a society raised in a distance to religion. Though they do not perceive that constant influence of religion as you do, they are not Godless, they still love, they still suffer, and they still want peace. For anyone, Think of someone you love. How you long to protect them from any pain. How you long to see them live in a world where they can dream and grow without fear. You do not want war either.Please, if you have read this and feel as I do, send it to as many people as you can, give it to people, friends, workers, company heads, newspapers, print it, paste it, website it, teachers, students…anything you can do. If you can reply in email to [email protected] in an effort to gauge how many people will turn out, but remember what is most important. Light a candle for peace. -Sofia Sapienza