Occupy Iraq, Occupy Love

Dec 18, 2011

I hardly know what to do with my thoughts these days.

Occupy Toronto sign "Pass the Gravy?"My preoccupation with Occupy Toronto has been such a source of hope; we are seeing a planetary love story beginning to play out amongst us.  Last evening, after a very fun Occupy the Holidays (Eaton Centre, Toronto’s downtown shopping mecca), the gathering moved to Friends’ House to listen to and, in true Occupy-style, interact with, Velcrow Ripper, renowned Canadian documentarist (Scared Sacred and Fierce Light being the first two of a trilogy). The final in the series will be called ‘Occupy Love’, to be released in 2012.

Occupy Toronto sign "This is about Love"He talked about how he wanted to take all of the underside stories of the first two films, the underside stories of our day, and somehow turn it into a love story, expose the sacred.  His original working title was EvolveLove.  In the early days of production, the Arab Spring began, followed by the European Summer (Madrid, Barcelona, Athens [we only tended to see the violent pieces from the latter, which remains committed to non-violence]) and then Occupy Wall Street – at which point, he knew he had his love story.  Beautiful gathering.  Someone asked about NDAA; what effect will it have on Occupy, beginning in the U.S.  Ah yes.

On the 19th-20th of March 2003, Dan Buttry and I were just returning from a month of trainings with the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches.   It was horrifying to listen, by transistor, to the voice of George W. Bush calmly announcing his government’s soon-to-be-realised intentions – while in the midst of a paradise-like setting of Guímaras  Island where we and the staff of Development Ministries were unpacking and evaluating the month’s efforts.   Even more horrifying were the sights and sounds of the Baghdad bombardment on television screens in a series of airports on the way home.

Three months later, I went to Iraq with Christian Peacemaker Teams, returning to their post for the first time after all team members had been deported in the middle of the worst aerial bombing.  At that point, what was most obvious was the mind-numbing destruction of which human ingenuity and bunker-busting bombs are capable.

Bomb damage in Baghdad IraqSaddam Hussein’s statue had been toppled in al-Fardous Square; although there were massive roles of concertina wire around the Republic Palace, the Circle of al-Fardous was still open to traffic of all sorts, human and vehicular, vendors of the family goods or the remains of looted shops, and venue of almost daily protests by those tens or hundreds of thousands recently victimised by Bremer’s not-brilliant removal from all forms of employment of all those persons in possession of a Baath Party card.

Iraq Green ZoneThe heavily fortified Green Zone was yet to come.  The devastation of Fallujah had yet to come.  The million ‘excess deaths’ still ahead.

I have been trawling for viewpoints, from the U.S. and elsewhere:  what do we think?  what are the words and thoughts roiling around inside of us? what are our respective leaders saying?  Some are being asked to respond to the question:  was it worth it?  How does one answer a question like that?

I have two responses I have found, one from Barack Obama, relayed to a returning company at Fort Bragg — http://edition.cnn.com/2011/12/14/politics/obama-iraq-troops/index.html, a quote from which says this:

Protest in Iraq‘Because you have sacrificed so much for a people that you had never met, Iraqis have a chance to forge their own destiny… that’s part of what makes us special as Americans.  Unlike the old empires, we don’t make these sacrifices for territory or resources; we do it because it’s right.’

A second, I came across, courtesy of Amy Goodman and Democracy Now, a video filmed here in Toronto a couple of days ago, featuring Yanar Mohammed, of the Baghdad-based Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq:  http://www.youtube.com/embed/_CTnRIfNMTU.

sketch of the Anunciation by RembrandtIronically enough, also on Thursday, Bradley Manning got his first public hearing in 19 months of onerous imprisonment.  Yesterday was his 24th birthday.  We had a party in front of the US consulate here in Toronto.

And, this is Advent; taking our place beside Mary as a mysterious presence lets her know that for some reason God is interested in surrendering God’s self to flesh and blood and she is cast in the drama about to take place.

So I guess we join her, smuggling God’s presence into the world in our own bodies, occupying Christmas.


Muslim-Christian Trainings
Mindanao / Philippines Conflict Transformation
San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico
Sudan third party non-violence intervention