December 18, 2006

I have no idea why this happened to me. My eyes were burned out of their sockets by a car bomb in Baghdad's Sadr City district.

Will I live? Will I die? Do you care?

I know nothing of your politics, your wars, your greed, your sweeping ideologies. Your moral justifications mean nothing to me.

I will never see my mother again. She died in the explosion.

When I am older, if I live, I will wonder who did this to me, and why. Will my heart be filled with anger and a thirst for vengeance? Or will I know only sorrow and sadness?

Stuff happens. This is what happened to me. I don't know why. I don't even ask why: I am just a baby. My name is Shams. It means "Sun".

Stuff happens to babies everyday: we take it all in, we learn from it, we build our view of the world piece by piece. This is my world. Look. This is what I have learned.

Somewhere on the other side of a world I can no longer see, a little baby girl just like me is learning about Christmas. She stares wide-eyed at pictures of Santa Claus, at Christmas trees with sparkling decorations and glistening stars symbolizing hope for all the world. She likes to go out into the garden at night, just before bed-time, and look up into the sky.

"Moo-oon!" she cries, pointing to the moon. "Star!"

She lives in a big house with air conditioning and a swimming pool. Her father, a part-time blogger, is building a new cubby house for her to share with her older brothers. In the mornings, when he goes to work, he kisses her good-bye.

"Bye bye, Daddy." she says. She doesn't know why he has to go to work every day. Like me, being a baby, she just accepts it. Her name is Aisha. It means "life".

Forty seven cents in every dollar her father makes at work is taken by his government. The money is used to pay the salaries of her country's politicians, to fund their Armed Forces and pay for their weapons, fighter jets and other tools of war.

Aisha lives in a peaceful country. She is lucky.

I will never see my mother again.


Photo from Dahr Jamail via Antony Loewenstein.

No words can compensate this poor little girl or her family. But one day, those of us whose countries brought this violent chaos to her doorstep will be expected to make reparations.

I hope and pray that day will come soon, and I hope we will be ready to do what must be done to mend the damage that has been wrought in our name.

The consciences of our leaders are as shrivelled and dry as this poor little girl’s eyes. I hope our hearts are not similiarly damaged beyond repair.


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