No 27 February 2003

Iraq
 

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Karen-Claire Voss No 27 February 2003

Forgive me again, dear Reader.  This column is not late because I have been busy, although I am admittedly still busy.  This column is late because I am heartsick and simply did not know what to say to you.  This column is late because I kept putting off sitting down to write it.  You see, I hesitated before writing about anything that could be construed as political, but since it seems to me that what is happening goes far beyond politics, and has everything to do with the basic question of what it means to be human, I decided to “go for it,” as they say in America.     

We have almost completed our film, The Dream of Istanbul.  Once it goes through what is known in the film business as “post production” it will be finished and you will certainly hear more about where you can see it.  However, as thrilling as this project was, any pleasure I derived from it has palled in the face of the madness that is currently brewing.  I was happy to have created something beautiful, but now it seems irrelevant.

It’s true that I still don’t know what to say to you this month.  This accounts for the fact that this is the shortest column I have ever written.  What earthly good will it do for me to lament, in words only somewhat different than those that have already been written or uttered by others much greater than I am, the current situation.  What good will it do for me to tell you to write to your government representatives, to your newspapers, to try to help convince the Powers-That-Be (who are of more than one nationality) not to go any further with this madness? 

Yes, I am heartsick.  Therefore, I am simply reproducing here something that Coleman Barks, the English translator of Rumi’s poetry, has written for George Bush.  I very much wanted to share it with you.  Perhaps you can forward these words to your English-speaking friends.  Perhaps one of you can translate these words into Turkish and send them somewhere else.  (I have to confess that I do harbor hopes that somehow what Coleman Barks has written does find its way into the Turkish press.)   Perhaps . . . Well, we will see what comes of this, if anything.

A poem from the translator of Rumi to the US President:

Just This Once

President Bush, before you order air strikes, imagine the first cruise missile as a direct hit on your closest friend.  That might be Laura.

Then twenty-five other family and friends.
There are no survivors.

 

Now imagine some other way to do it.  Quadruple the inspectors, or put a thousand and one U.N. people in.  Then call for peace activists to volunteer to go to Iraq for two weeks each.  Flood that country with well-meaning tourists, people curious about the land that produced the great saints, Gilani, Hallaj, and Rabia.  Set up hostels near those tombs.

Encourage peace people to spend a bunch of money in shops, to bring rugs home and samovars by the bushel.  Send an Arabic translator with every four peace activists.  The U.S. government will pay for the translators and for building and staffing the hostels, one hostel for every twenty activists and five translators.  The hostels are state of the art, and they belong to the Iraqis at the end of this experiment.

 

Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela, and my friend, Jonathan Granoff at the U.N., will be the core organization team.  No one knows what might come of this.  Maybe nothing, or maybe it would convince some Iraqis and some of the world that we really do not wish to kill anybody, and that we truly are not out to appropriate oil reserves.  We're working on building a hydrogen vehicle as fast as we can,
aren't we?

 

Put no limit on the number of activists from all over that might want to hang out and explore Iraq for two weeks.  Is anything left of Babylon?  There could be informal courses for college credit and pickup soccer games every evening at five.  Long leisurely suppers.  The U. S. government furnishes air transportation, that is, hires airliners from the country of origin and back for each peace tourist, who must carry and spend the equivalent of $1001 US inside Iraq.

 

Keep part of the invasion force nearby as police, but let those who claim to deeply detest war try something else just this once, for one year.  Call our bluff.  If this madman Saddam's WMD threat is not, somehow, eliminated by next February, you can go in with special ops, and do it that way.

Medical services, transportation inside Iraq, lots of big colorful buses--let the pilgrims paint them!--along with many other ideas that will be thought of later during the course of this innocently, blatantly, foolish project will all also be funded by the U.S. government.  There's a practice known as sama, a deep listening to poetry and music, with sometimes movement involved.  We could experiment with whole nights of that, staying up until dawn, sleeping in tents during the day.  So instead of war there's a peace period from March 2003 through February 2004.

 

It could be as though war had already happened, as it has, and the healing and rebuilding.  Now we're in the celebration afterward.  I'll be the first to volunteer for two weeks of wandering winter desert and reading Hallaj, Abdul Qadir Gilani, dear Rabia, and the life-saving 1001 Arabian Nights.

I am Coleman Barks, a retired English professor living in Athens, Georgia, and I don't really consider this proposal foolish.

 

Coleman Barks
2003

Well, there you have it.  I must say that personally, I don’t really consider his proposal foolish either.

Until next month, all of you take care.   

No.1- April 2000 No.11 April 2001 No. 20 July 2002 No 29 April 2003
No.2 June 2000 No.12 May 2001 No. 22 September 2002 NO 30 MAY 2003
No.3 July/August 2000 No. 13 June 2001 No. 23   October 2002  NO 31 JUNE 2003
No.5 October 2000 No.14 July 2001 No 24 November 2002 NO 32 JULY 2003
No.7 December 2000 No.15 August 2001 No 25 DECEMBER  2002 NO 33 August 
No.8 January 2001
(No. 8 Ocak 2001 - Türkçe tercume
NO 16 September 2001 No 26 January 2003 No 34 September 
No.9 February 2001 No. 17 April 2002 No 27 February 2003 No 35 October 
No.10 March 2001 NO 19 JUNE 2002 No 28 March 2003 No 36 January 2004

No 37 February - March 2004 No 38 April 2004

 

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