What is life really like in Iraq right now? Click "Read More" to read excerpts of a report from someone who faces the reality of war, every single day.
by Sheila Provencher, Christian Peacemaker Teams
What happens when car bombs become normal? One hundred fifty-two people die in your city in one day and you feel sad but then you go about cooking supper, and you laugh with your family and watch some music videos. This past Wednesday, ten car bombs exploded throughout the city, and I went and played with Noorís little baby and forgot until I read the news again.
Maybe you donít forget inside. I see it in the faces of friends, shopkeepers, and neighbors. People feel tired, worn out, like the layer of dust and plastic bags littering every surface of the city. Numb. At night you wonder: Whose family was changed forever that day?
Checkpoints manned by Iraqi Police holding machine guns dot the city of Baghdad. Their goal is to reduce terrorist attacks, I assume. But a few days ago, I and CPT colleagues found ourselves looking down the barrel of the machine gun pointed at our car or the one behind us. In that moment, everything froze. When the officer then raised the gun and waved us on, we laughed it off. But I wonder--how many innocent civilians have died because police officers or U.S. soldiers were afraid that they were terrorists? And how are the policemen and soldiers dealing with the trauma of taking innocent life? The only son of a friend of a friend just killed himself after returning home from military service in Iraq. What is happening to our young people sent to war?
These are all random strands of stories, I suppose. Itís like a giant puzzle, and there is no clear answer. When I try to figure it out, it is beyond me. But after living in a war zone for almost two years, I am sure of two things:
One: Violence simply does not work, no matter who uses it.
And two: We are all together in this. Noorís baby is your own child, and the death of that only son of a friend of a friend creates a vacuum in your heart just as it does in the hearts of his family. We are all in this together.
NOTE: Names were changed for the safety of those included.
Photograph courtesy of the Department of Defense.