The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

“Take care of our children.”

with 6 comments

My friend honestpoet reminded me that women often have different priorities in world affairs than men do. Which reminded me, in turn, of what may be the most important thing I have read about Iraq.

It’s Joan Chittister’s presentation of some thoughts of Iraqi women. I excerpt just a few comments here (limited more than I wish by copyright law) – but I beg you to read the article itself. Save it. Share it. Here goes:

“Take the oil. We don’t care about the oil,” one woman called across the room. “We never got any value from it anyway,” …“Never mind yesterday,” … [regarding] Sunni- Shi’ite tensions. “Forget who did what to whom. We must turn the page now. We must rebuild the country.”

“And what is the first thing that must be done to rebuild the country?” we asked them … sure that the list would be long and varied. I was wrong. …

To a woman, the call was clear: “Take care of our children.”

Take care of the children, the ones who went cold as stone at the loss of brothers and fathers and dead playmates. … Take care of the ones who felt the sweat of terror when the doors of the homes in which they were sure they were safe broke down in the middle of the night or the lights went out or their mothers wrapped their shawls around their heads and cried. Take care of the ones who went into psychic paralysis at the sight of blood and bodies. Take care of the ones who woke up one morning to find their lives completely disrupted for no apparent reason.

When men sit down to negotiate peace treaties … they disband armies and guard borders and hold military tribunals and form new governments and punish old ones. … When they tote up the cost of the war, they do not include the number of women raped, the number of families displaced, the number of schools bombed, or the number of babies without milk. … The victors take their spoils, monitor the guns, forget the defenseless and leave the people to clean up the rubble. War becomes the daily dirge of the anonymous victims….

The Iraqi women were very clear: the most injured of all in this war are the children of Iraq. …

The future of Iraq is at stake. But it is not the banking system the women are concerned about. It is the treasure of the nation that is being squandered, they know. It is their future. It is their children.

I’ve been spending a little extra time with my 1-year-old grandson lately. He clings to me when he has pain – utterly, helplessly dependent. I hold him close, my heart hurting. And I think, “What if he and I – were there?

Read Chittister here.

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Written by Monte

March 23, 2007 at 11:37 am

6 Responses

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  1. Lead on, dear sisters – your voices are so important.

    Naj, it seems like there is this terrible hardness that comes to people with power, that somehow causes men and women to trade serving people for using them. I can sense it even in my little role as a pastor of a little church – how overwhelming must it be in corridors of power!

    HP – I’m sure you’re right about poetry, but I know from experience that it’s true about sermons! I’d welcome your recommendations for such poems to read. If you can bear the pop-ishness of it, much of the current dialogue reminded me of a Joni Mitchell poem that I sometimes performed in the 60s, and I posted it a while back here: Fiddle and Drum


    March 27, 2007 at 12:07 pm

  2. I’m not sure how to make that happen. I’m working on it, though.

    I think I’d like to put together an anthology of anti-war poems by mother-poets. One I know insists that all that we go through to bring them into the world, the pain and toil and all, the nursing, the diapers, the picking up toys, the heartbreak as we watch them discover pain and difficulty, can’t be just so we can send them out to kill each other.

    I wholeheartedly agree.


    March 25, 2007 at 1:17 pm

  3. I was reading last night, that in matriarchic societies, because of the central role of motherly feelinsg, peace, stability and nurturing are of paramount importance.

    That is of course, if we leave women leaders such as Thatcher, Albright, Rice, Clinton (and now Pelosi) out!!

    I wish the politicians of the world paied more attention the mothers of the world.


    March 25, 2007 at 11:30 am

  4. Awe, shucks. You know I keep it tender for purely selfish reasons. Hard-hearted poets don’t write good poetry.

    It’s just part of the job description.


    March 25, 2007 at 10:29 am

  5. You’re welcome – and thank you for your tender heart. It seems to me that nine-tenths of the things the world struggles with need only more people brave enough to let their hearts be touched by the suffering of others.


    March 24, 2007 at 7:08 pm

  6. Oh, sure, Monte, now you’ve got me all teary.

    Thanks, though, for helping remind people about what’s really important.


    March 23, 2007 at 1:05 pm

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