Burden of Proof

I guess it’s Sunday in Japan already… Sun quite high in the sky already over that magnificent semicircle of hills that surrounds Hiroshima…
So Ramesh Thakur, a wise Indian scholar who’s the vice-rector of the U.N. University, headquartered in Japan, has a piece in Sunday’s Japan Times that’s worth reading. “Time was when those threatening to go to war had to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt,” he writes. “Today we are asked to prove to the powerful, to their satisfaction, why they should not go to war… There is a sense of helpless anger about hurtling toward a war no one wants. In Canada, Europe and Asia, the depth of alienation from U.S. policy on Iraq is quite striking. In India, people dub it ‘dadagiri’: bullying by the neighborhood tough in a global neighborhood.”
I get so much great email from around the world. What an incredible thing. (And by the way, thanks, Ramesh, for sending me that piece.)
Couple of weeks ago, I got a couple of emails from a Kenyan Quaker pastor called Malesi Kinaro . One of them expressed his real excitement at the results of his country’s mid-January elections. The next one had more about President Bush’s almost unstoppable push toward war against Iraq.
“As I have listened to these tough pro war utterances by Bush I have felt a deep sadness,” Pastor Malesi wrote.
He also wrote about a young woman called Doreen Mayaka, whom his family helped to finish raising after her mother died in the Qaeda bomb attack against the U.S. Embassy (and surrounding buildings) in Nairobi, back in 1998. Doreen was 18 when her mother died, and Pastor Malesi let her write some of her own feelings into his email. Here’s what she said about Bush’s war plans:
“The war between American and Iraq is really scaring me because of the implications it will have on innocent human beings. I refer to my own experience of angered revenge by terrorists toward Americans that left us without our mother who worked for the American Embassy during the 1998 Nairobi Bomb. She was the sole breadwinner of our family. Life without her has been very traumatizing to my brother two sisters and me. Being the first born, I had to immediately take up the role of a mother without any preparations or anything. My sister Debra was only four when our mother died. She never had a chance to know what having a mother means… When I can’t take it any more, the pain of her death becomes too heavy to bear and I always wonder if we really deserved this.
“I don’t understand why innocent Kenyans had to die! Especially my mother who had nothing at all to do with Americans apart from the work she had been given. When it finally hit the Americans, they were now able to understand what we in Africa
had experienced and decided to take action, but their move this round is dangerous. Does it not mean anything to Bush when innocent human beings die? Do we want more deaths when we can choose a different path to get the same needed results? Do we need to prove to the world that we can hit harder than the terrorist or is it better to seek peace and pursue it?
“Yes the terrorists killed my mother and I have forgiven them. I can never be any better if I revenge by involving myself in violence with them… I strongly believe President Bush can [better] seek peace and bring reconciliation than revenge, which will cost more innocent lives.”
So if you’re reading this on a Sunday, give a thought or a prayer to Doreen and everyone else who’s had to struggle with losing a family member to political violence. Come to that, you don’t even have to wait till Sunday…
And then, give a thought to how it is that though a vast majority of people around the world– people like Doreen, Pastor Malesi, Ramesh, or literally billions more like them–are strongly opposed to this war, somehow Prez Bush thinks it’s going to be good for humanity???