In the name of God, the most merciful: Look with kindness upon our world. Give rest to the weary, food to the hungry, release to those in bondage, and power to the oppressed. Above all, help us to dwell in peace with one another. Support those who seek to bring a just order to communities and nations, especially those working to build a civil rule in Iraq. Bless your people with a renewed vision of your promise and your beauty, that we may rejoice in your gifts to us and have your name ever upon our lips. Amen.
Over the past month, our Hudson County Brotherhood/Sisterhood Group for Interfaith Dialogue and Concerns has had the privilege of meeting two delegations of Iraqi leaders brought to the U.S. by the State Department. Without revealing much detail about the identities of these guests, they have represented much of the geography of Iraq, and a variety of power: tribal, parliamentary, provincial. It has been a blessing to have several hours at a time to meet, converse, and share a meal together, for what has been at times very interesting interactions. And it is very important for us to receive information about Iraq that does not come from Americans in the green zone in Bagdhad, then filtered through corporate media organizations.
Our Iraqi brothers and sisters travel back to a nation under military occupation, with a broken constitution, and where power politics involves assassination and mass murder. I will keep them in mind as I do some community organizing at the church picnic tomorrow, knowing that this is, quite literally, a walk in the park.
Electrical wires span the streets in Baghdad, fed by private generators that provide backup for districts without power from the central grid. Photo by Marko Gorgiev, for the New York Times, August 23, 2007.