The Intimacies of War: A Personal Reflection
on a Global Tragedy
Sister Rihab Mousa, OP
Sister Rihab Mousa, OP is a member
of the St. Catharine of Sienna Dominicans based in Mosul, Iraq. She
has lived with the Dominican Sisters in Springfield since
2002 and is a student at Springfield College in Illinois. The Springfield
Dominicans held a prayer service on September 21st.
wins at war. I can’t claim to be an expert on all war, but
I’m intimately aware of the effects of one war in particular,
the one in Iraq. I know the suffering my brother and sister-in-law
face every day when they wake up to the empty crib that was to cradle
their baby son. Abdullmaseh, a healthy, perfectly formed infant,
died four days after he was born in northern Iraq because there
was no competent doctor to deliver him, because there was no IV
bag for a blood transfusion, because there is war. I know how the
tender fabric of family relationships unravels when young men, faced
with the no-future that is Iraq, make the choice to leave, and end
up being trafficked illegally to another country. I know what it
means for families in one of the most oil-wealthy nations of the
world to be without electricity, or without the benzene they need
to power the generators to cool their houses and their frayed nerves
and keep their food from spoiling and their phones from going dead.
I know all about survivors’ guilt, that gnawing grind that
constantly reminds me I’m safe but my family and 26 million
other Iraqis aren’t. I’ve experienced first hand what
millions of others from the diaspora of any and every conflict experience
when weeks go by with no way to contact family and no way to know
whether they are telling you the truth, anyway, when they say they
are fine and not to worry.
A few weeks ago I spoke with a member of my community who runs a
maternity hospital in Baghdad. Life is so desperate, she said, that
women beg for cesarean sections. They long for the temporary respite
from reality that could come from the deep numbing sleep of an anesthetic.
I get a heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach as I scroll through
the photos of the many newly married couples on a website from my
hometown. I wonder how many of these couples are also anesthetizing
their pain through quick marriages – into what kind of future
is not easy to tell.
Recently a friend of mine spoke with Bishop Gabriel Kassab of Basra,
who over the past year has watched his tiny Chaldean flock in Iraq’s
second city diminish from 1,000 families to 200 as they flee the
country for precarious futures in only marginally more stable Middle
Eastern nations. “Pray for the peace of God,” he said.
“Only God can save us.”
These are my stories, true. I suspect that they reverberate in the
lives of how many people, in how many conflicts, on how many continents,
who also suffer the intimacies of war. Somehow, I don’t think
it matters so much whether the war is in Iraq or on the eastern
Mediterranean coast or in Sudan or Afghanistan. Or whether those
who are fighting are American or British, Iraqi, Israeli, Lebanese,
Sudanese, or Afghani. Those who suffer war wherever it exists suffer
the same realities: despair, depression, uncertainty, fear, a loss
of confidence in the goodness of humanity, death.
It is frightening to see images of the human cost of conflicts in
my home country and anywhere in the world. It is equally frightening
to contemplate the irreversible damage these wars do to the planet:
oil spills in the Mediterranean, depleted uranium in the soil of
Iraq and Yugoslavia, ravaged olive groves or date palm plantations
– even Earth suffers.
So on Thursday, Sept. 21, the International Day of Peace and Global
Ceasefire, for the sake of Earth and of all Earth’s creatures,
we ask nations and terrorists to stop their warring. And we Dominicans
around the world, joined in solidarity by our religious profession,
invite you to join us in prayer for peace.
If you have only one moment – this moment – to utter
your silent plea, it will be enough. Because no one wins a war.
So much depends on your, and my, and our, ability to imagine a different
way, the way of peace.
...So much depends on your, and my,
and our, ability to imagine a different way, the way of peace.
photos of the March in Rome
of letter from the Master General
Letter from International
Co-Promoters of Justice and Peace
United Nations International
Day of Peace website
Suggested Prayers and ways to participate
Recent Messages from Dominicans