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Iraq Escalation? Wrong Way!

From Susan Hadler

Last night, I walked down 16th Street to join a vigil for peace in Lafayette Square facing the White House. Wednesday night, George Bush announced the escalation of troops in Iraq, and the vigil was a way to support and encourage all who are working to end the war.

Earlier in the day, I was waiting for my passport picture to be developed and I began talking with a woman from Costa Rica who was also waiting. She said, ďWhen George Bush leads Americans to Hell, they follow him right into Hell.Ē

I was thinking of that when we were asked to stand in silence for 10 minutes facing the White House and think about Bush, about the war, about ourselves and the world. I was aware of feeling deeply frustrated that Bush seems not to listen to the suffering that causes and is caused by war. I thought of the family I grew up in. No one listened to the suffering in our family caused by the war that took my fatherís life. Then, as I looked at the lighted windows of the White House, I let myself breathe and get in touch with the fear, the hatred, the pride that lived in that house, that lived in George Bush and that was creating such Hell in the world. I breathed in this burning pain and breathed out understanding as much as I could, standing in the January night holding a candle and a sign. My own pain and anger began to soften. I felt grateful that there were so many of us standing together, adding a little light and warmth to the cold. Sankar was there too, standing beside me warming his hands in the flame of his candle.

After the silence, the names of those from the Washington area that had died in Iraq were read. With each name I thought of my father who was killed in World War II at the age of 25. I have lived 37 years longer than he lived. Iíve had 37 more years to tend my family, grow and ripen, learn and offer what I have, and enjoy the beauty and wonders of life than my young father had when his life was cut short. My heart broke with each name, knowing the unbearable loss. When the last of a heartbreakingly long list of names was read, we were asked to extinguish our candles.

I walked back up 16th Street to my room holding the big yellow and orange sign in front of me: IRAQ ESCALATION? WRONG WAY. A woman closing her shop stopped me to talk about her anger, her sadness, and her fears for her own country of Iran. The connection felt good. We were each a little less alone. As I walked up the street holding the sign I thought that maybe tomorrow Iíll just walk around the city holding this sign and stop and listen to those who need to talk. So we donít feel so alone. So we can find each other and flame the fires of understanding and peace.

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