Today my partner and I take off for the other side of the world, full of excitement and a little apprehension. We are spending the next ten days visiting an old friend in Lebanon, being shown a bit of her country. This is a much-anticipated vacation, days I look forward to filled with wonder.
From there we go on to Jordan and Syria on a delegation of peace activists organized through Global Exchange and United for Peace and Justice. On this part of the trip we will visit Wihdat and Al-Baqa'a camps, long home to displaced Palestinians, now crowded with Iraqi refugees as well. We will meet with the founding member of Act Together: Women's Action on Iraq. We will meet with UNESCO-Iraq. We will meet with an Iraqi civil engineer and blogger whose son was kidnapped in Iraq and we will meet with an Iraqi professor to discuss the situation of academics in Iraq.
The delegation will make a brief visit to Damascus, Syria, to meet with a group of Christian Iraqis and other others affected by U.S. incursions into their countries.
All in all, lots of meetings. The apprehension I feel arises in part simply from going to an unknown place with an unknown language. But more deeply, it arises from fear and hope about whether our making these visits can be made useful in the long, laborious, political process of turning our country away from projecting military might and toward a sustainable future. Why put these people, their lives already torn apart by my government's mad adventure, through telling their stories to a small bunch of powerless U.S. peace folks?
We won't know if this trip can be justified until we've been on it -- and returned to share whatever we can of what we've seen and heard. I do know -- from a decade of work in solidarity with people in Central America when they were under direct attack by the U.S. -- that both they and we were changed and deepened through the connections we made.
The U.S. seems to have pushed Iraq over a precipice into a multi-directional war of all against all -- a war in which I am sure most people are simply trying to keep their vulnerable heads down. From what I read this morning Afghanistan seems to be going the same way.
People in the United States working to end our wars face the paradox that the Iraq war has fallen out of favor with the country, but the peace movement has not won the political clout to expedite its end. But we must try. So we go on trips, and talk with people, and march, and educate, and organize, and pray -- for not to act would be to diminish our own humanity. We will strive to make some good come of this trip; I will report further, when I can get online.