Thursday, August 18, 2005

Candlelight Vigil in Lompoc

What an evening. I was so thrilled by the turnout at tonight's candlelight vigil here in Lompoc. Over thirty people joined us to stand in solidarity with Cindy Sheehan and to honor our fallen soldiers and their families, as well as all victims of war and violence. Furthermore, it was so empowering to know that ours was one of over 1600 vigils simultaneously taking place around the country this evening.

For over two years our group has been accused of not supporting the troops and for being unpatriotic. Tonight we supported our troops in a very meaningful and respectful manner. And as always, I believe that exercising my constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of assembly is patriotic. What is the point of living in a democracy if I cannot exercise my rights? I would like someone to explain to me why this is viewed as unpatriotic and why our peace efforts are continually met with criticism and disdain?

What we should be critical of is an administration that will wreak death and destruction on our fellow human beings because they possess resources we covet. We should all be outraged that the war being waged in Iraq is based on lies, funded by our tax dollars, and is destroying our most precious national resource, our children. And we should all be holding this president accountable for the senseless loss of life both here and in the Middle East in the manner that Cindy Sheehan is. Not one more parent should have to grieve the needless loss of their child anywhere in the world.

The unacceptable reality of war without end, which this administration is purposing, is what motivates me to continue working for nonviolent conflict resolution and for a peaceful world that is safe for all its’ children. Working to end this insanity is our responsibility as United States citizens and in my opinion is the ultimate form of patriotism. This is the legacy I wish to leave my own children and the future generations to come.

In peace,
Mary AlKhaja

Thursday, August 11, 2005

In Solidarity with Cindy

Dear friends,
As I write this message tonight my sweet son is sleeping in his warm bed. It is this thought that keeps me from joining him in slumber…it is this thought that takes me to Crawford Texas…to another mother who cannot rest tonight because her beloved son is not resting in his bed, but is resting in peace. WHY?! I want to scream. Why is it acceptable to my fellow citizens that American children are dying for corporate greed and imperialist adventures? Why are our children dying so that corporations can get richer and the military can get stronger? What has happened to my country, the greatest democracy on earth, the bastion of freedom and the defender of human rights? Why can so many Americans sleep peacefully tonight while so many around the world are suffering and dying?

Cindy Sheehan is sleeping in the desert tonight, awaiting a meeting with our commander in chief, so that he can explain to her why her precious child died in a war based on lies. I only wish that I had the courage to do something so bold. Already the media is spinning this story. How typical. How disrespectful. This is a mother who is simply asking why her child was killed and is taking direct action to find the answer. She, like millions of Americans and billions of the world’s citizens, do not believe the official government lies as to why the US illegally invaded and occupied Iraq in the first place. She sees through the official deceptions and lies and has paid the ultimate price with the sacrifice of her eldest child’s life. I truly cannot imagine her pain and grief, as I cannot imagine the pain and grief of all the mother’s living in the Middle East who have lost their children, their loved ones, their homes and their livelihoods, because of US imperialism.

I had the privilege of meeting Cindy Sheehan this past April when she came to Lompoc to participate in a forum that our group sponsored on the human costs of the Iraq war. I wept, as most people in the room did, while she shared with us her story of the pain her family has endured as a result of her son’s death. It was because of her testimony that I was finally able to understand the impact this so called “War on Terror” is having on American families. She finally brought this home for me, and for that I am truly grateful.

Tonight I stand in solidarity with Cindy and all women and men holding vigil in Crawford Texas and around the world who seek an end to violence and the destruction of life. We, as civilized human beings, must find an alternative to war so that no other family experiences this kind of tragic, unnecessary loss of life. Our children depend on it and deserve to sleep peacefully tonight and every night.

In peace,
Mary AlKhaja