FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Living Differently in Iraq

Najaf, Iraq

For the past three days I have been trying to get news of the situation in our houses on the lower East side of Manhattan, where the flooding from hurricane Sandy was especially heavy.  I pictured the worst.  As a good portion of Maryhouse is subterranean—the whole dining area and kitchen for example– I imagined the cellar and ground floor underwater!  We have folks who are elderly and infirm, even an older frail resident who speaks no English.  I pictured them frightened and in darkness!  On internet news I read “Don’t think if you boil the water it is safe to drink it.”

This morning, Wednesday, I am getting the first news from home.  The electricity is down, but there was no flooding!  Moreover, they were even able to serve a meal, albeit in a somewhat darkened house, to a handful of women who came to us.  I can’t tell you how grateful and relieved I am for this news!

I was in Baghdad last Sunday, the 28th of October, and hadn’t even heard of hurricane Sandy until I opened email on Monday morning to read that a couple of friends were going to stay at our home because of the impending storm!  What storm I asked myself.

The lack of news and the anxiety it caused me these last days, took me back to the time we were in Baghdad during “Shock and Awe.”  What must it have been like for those back home with little to no information about our well-being?  One always imagines the worst.  In many ways I think it was harder for those far away.

I know I was alarmed, thousands of miles away, by the pictures I saw in the news. I wonder what the thoughts were in people’s minds and hearts as the water levels began to rise, and they didn’t know what would happen.

As you might have heard, the explosions and bombings, in Baghdad especially, continue.  Last Saturday fifty-three persons were killed, and on Sunday another twenty four people died.  I would wager to say that when they arose that morning they didn’t know it would be their last day.

It is almost ten years since the U.S.-led war against Iraq. The electricity keeps going off here and all throughout the country.   Sami, whose family is hosting me in Najaf, remarked yesterday with no ill intent, “Maybe we could send them some of our electricity!”  We had to laugh.

I read another email this morning from an Iraqi friend of Sami’s whom we were unable to see in Basra.  He spoke about the lack of electricity and the high humidity in Basra, where temperatures reached almost 50 degrees Centigrade last summer (about 120 degrees Fahrenheit), and this was during the fasting month of Ramadan when no water, or food, is taken from dawn to dusk.  “How is it” this friend asks “that the U.S. has poured billions of dollars into Iraq and yet there was no project for a [national] electrical power station to help cool temperatures and calm temperaments that went along with the political instability, the insecurity and the sectarian killings…?”

The oppressive heat has eased now in Basra, Baghdad and Najaf.  Winter is around the corner.  The waters have subsided in New Jersey, Coney Island and Manhattan.  Will we live differently today than we did yesterday?  Will we be more mindful of our own mortality and fragility?  More mindful of our interconnectedness with the larger human family?   Mindful that even our smallest act has far-reaching consequences.  For some reason we have been granted another day.

Cathy Breen (newsfromcathy@yahoo.com) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence. (vcnv.org) She will be writing about her visits to several communities in Iraq during the next several weeks.

More articles by:

Cathy Breen is a member of the New York Catholic Worker community and a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail