Hi Everyone, it’s me again.
In honor of Mother’s Day and my maternal instincts that extend well beyond my own child, I want to present you with this thought. If we can get ourselves to think about at least one other person in the world outside our immediate circle and do something to more fully understand them and their suffering, their humanity, then we will be taking a significant step towards making the world a better place. For once we make that type of emotional connection to another human being, it’s hard to not consider following up with some action. We just have to take it one step at a time.
It almost doesn’t matter which person or people you choose. There are plenty of options of people in need. Just pick one and go from there. But in case you need an idea, here’s one: Iraqi refugees.
Many of us are living fairly comfortable lives. Even though we all have our share of problems and struggles, in general, the situation here in the US is qualitatively different from that of any people who are living in a war torn region where car bombings and other random attacks are a daily occurrence, and the very fabric of normal existence has been ripped apart by drastic deficits created in the basic infrastructure. Such is the case in Iraq. It has been like this for the vast majority of Iraqi citizens for over 20 years, largely due to the impact of US policy towards that country. The level of suffering of the Iraqi people has been well documented, and it’s pretty damn staggering. Currently there are over 4 million displaced Iraqis, many of whom are now living in a virtual state of limbo in neighboring Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
After 9/11, Iraqis were unfortunately (and, as there is much evidence to prove, mistakenly) associated with those who would do harm to the US. With that kind of negative legacy, inspiring support for Iraqis among Americans continues to be a daunting task. Several artists I am proud to know have undertaken projects that provide a way to help American people to grasp the very basic human aspects of the situation and relate to Iraqis as fellow world citizens, not too different from ourselves. I truly believe that making this connection is our only hope. When people hear their stories, they are moved. It’s that simple.
Check out the following creative endeavors which I believe go a long way towards evoking appropriate understanding of and sympathy for Iraqi refugees and will hopefully inspire concrete action on their behalf:
No Place Called Home – A one-woman show written and performed by Kim Schultz, commissioned by Intersections International, based on her experiences hearing the stories of Iraqi refugees she met in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, performed in NYC, Washington, DC and South Bend, Indiana, and now launching a national tour.
The Unreturned – A documentary film chronicling the plight of five displaced middle-class Iraqis, living in Syria and Jordan, by filmmaker Nathan Fisher, seen at festivals in the US, Europe, Canada, Syria and Japan.
Erasing Iraq: The Human Costs of Carnage – A comprehensive book chronicling the last twenty years of the near destruction of Iraqi society, featuring searing historical documentation and in-depth interviews of Iraqi refugees living in Syria and Jordan, as well as western countries, written by Michael Otterman and Richard Hill with Paul Wilson.
These artists, who are each committed to making a difference in the lives of our Iraqi brothers and sisters, have my complete admiration, as I, too have worked on a creative project illuminating the plight of Iraqi civilians, but unlike each of them, I was unable to complete my own project.
My film, “Christmas in Baghad,” which I worked on from 1999-2001, looked at the impact of sanctions after the first Gulf War on the lives of Iraqi citizens and their family members living here in the US. I never forgot the quiet dignity and generosity of spirit I encountered in the families I met and grew to care about during production. I, too, had a similar experience of hearing the stories of brave and sad human beings who had endured incomprehensible suffering for reasons that were beyond logic. These stories also burned a place in my soul.
And that’s why I’m sharing this information with all of you. Read Mike’s book. Check out Nate’s film. See Kim’s show. Better yet, arrange for a reading, a screening, a performance. Maybe even a panel discussion with all three of them! Contact me, I know them all. I’ll hook you up.
I’m not trying to overwhelm you. This is just me introducing the topic. Take in what you can right now, I just wanted you to know there are options moving forward. But we can take it one step at a time. For now, just consider the fact that it could be important to all of us. To our humanity. Think about it. I’ll get back to you…