Lady of Baghdad
You huddle in your hallway, in the frightful gloom of midnight. The ground outside shakes once. The walls of your house rattle. You hear the sounds of broken glass coming from the next room, and as the floor beneath your feet reverberate, the grandmother paces, and she wails.
She curses the Americans.
Fear is in the air, thick as smoke, and bitter-tasting. The sounds of muffled explosions draw closer. The children begin to whimper. The lights, dimmed earlier by a lack of fuel, cannot help to dispel the frightening darkness that has enveloped your very soul.
I put aside my patriotic pride of my own country, and I huddle closer. Our bodies both feel rigid. I sense a momentary compassion for you, and for your loved ones. I can undergo your terror. Then I experience the hatred and hostility you hold toward the invader of your beloved homeland. And then I remember.
I remember the little four-year-old child that died in a Chicago fire last night, half a world away. Her young mother perished at her side. Then I recall the tens of thousands that drowned in the region of Aceh on Box Day. Thoughts of suffering are on everyone’s mind these days.
I have been silent, but I remember.
Suddenly, the harsh words of Wisdom cry out to my soul. She wails from the busy streets, warning all of those who desperately need to hear her stern voice. She is relentless with her cruel cautions. Take heed! Take heed, she cries.
And then she promises to laugh in your hour of calamity. But who listens to this mad woman?
You are just as I, sweet lady of Baghdad. You are but human.
You seek comfort for you family. You love them as best you can. You provide for their needs. And you lash out at this indignity.
For that, I cannot fault you. But then I remember.
I remember the mobs that celebrated a recent victory while a dead American was dragged through the public streets. It only reminds me of man’s inhumanity to man.
And then I remember why he was there in the first place; to help.
I remember, with revulsion, Blackhawk Down. More of the same.
I remember how Americans are despised, and I wonder about cruelty.
I am sorry for you, lady of torn Baghdad. I really am. Yet still, my compassion has been tempered with the harsher reality of wisdom. Part of me wants to reach and hold you close, to protect you and all that you love; all that you hold dearly.
Yet another more-sober part wants to cry in your face.
Why did you not pay attention, woman? Why did you not stand and be counted? Why did you allow this? Why did you allow your leaders to bully you and your family into submission? Was it from fear? Or did you shrug your shoulders and comply?
I, for one, have no such fear. I am lucky, I suppose, being born in a free land and at this particular time of history. It was not always so here; we have certainly had our moments.
But I refuse to accept the blame for those that suffer so, without thinking thusly.
I truly wish we could get along. But we are, after all, human, my lady.
And mean Wisdom, she tells me she means business. You can read her short story in the Bible, in Proverbs. It can be found in chapter one.
Read the story, I beg of you, precious lady. Read it before the lights go out permanently.