Left Justified: What to do while bombs are falling

Left Justified: What to do while bombs are falling

By Stanley Campbell

The war is on. The U.S. gave Saddam 48 hours to leave town, and when he didn’t, our troops came in shootin’. As a peace activist, I’m supposed to shut up while the fighting is going on. That’s to show that I “support our troops.”

As a veteran, I know that most soldiers will do what it takes, mainly to get home, and right now, home is on the other side of Baghdad. I also know that most troops are very well trained, and they will put their ordnance where they’re told. Unfortunately, sometimes they’re told (accidentally) to bomb their own troops as well as innocent civilians. No matter how carefully you educate soldiers, mistakes will be made. I believe the term is “collateral damage.” That’s one of the main reasons why I oppose war, or at least pray governments use it only as a last resort. Innocents will die, no matter how careful people are.

And it seems the Iraqis are putting up a little fight, which is amazing after an atrocious defeat in 1991, 12 years of a tight embargo, starvation and demoralizing punishment from the U.S. and their own government.

What to do now that we’re dropping bombs on Iraq? Besides pray, I urge everyone to support overseas relief for the people of Iraq and the surrounding area. You know that our government’s main concern is getting Saddam and protecting the oilfields, and they have little time to worry about kids that get in the way.

That’s why we have to rush in with aid, war relief, medicines and food. Let’s rebuild those bombed apartment complexes and private homes. It’s really the least we can do, and all those warmongers out there should be writing large checks to their favorite charities (though I doubt many of them have a favorite charity).

Mine is Church World Service (CWS), otherwise known as the Hunger Walk people. They’ve got the best track record and do a lot of development work so that people can learn how to feed themselves. CWS is already in Iraq, and I’m hopin’ some of their operatives will come through the bombing. Hopefully, they’ll be alive to continue their important mission. Oxfam is a good group as well. I think CARE and the International Red Cross both are well known. Almost every religious denomination has overseas relief, and I hope they all have a special program now for Iraq. I don’t think I’d support sending evangelical Christians who just want to baptize. That might be pushing it, though I bet there’s folks itchin’ to “spread the gospel” behind the troops. You know there are Christians already in Iraq, and I hope and pray that they survive, too.

Rockford Peace & Justice Action Committee will host a relief dinner on Monday, April 7, 6 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church. For $10, you will get a simple vegetarian meal, and you can stick around and listen to a human rights lawyer, Douglass Cassel (he’ll start talking for free at 7:30). Call the church so we know how many are coming: 398-6322. The proceeds will go to Iraq war relief and to assuage the sins of our government.

This Sunday, March 30, at 4 p.m. at the Puri Peace Plaza on Perryville Road, please join us in a prayer service memorializing all the dead of the Iraq war so far. We will grieve for the American soldiers, the Iraqi civilians and soldiers, and all the “collateral damage” done so far in the war. We pray for no more dead.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

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