02 July 2007

It's a hard life, but I believe in a better way

"It's A Hard Life Wherever You Go" (Nanci Griffith)

I am a backseat driver from America
They drive to the left on Falls Road
The man at the wheel's name is Seamus
We pass a child on the corner he knows
And Seamus says, "Now, what chance has that kid got?"
And I say from the back, "I don't know."
He says, "There's barbed wire at all of these exits
And there ain't no place in Belfast for that kid to go."

I was a child in the sixties
Dreams could be held through TV
With Disney, Cronkite and Martin Luther
Oh, I believed, I believed, I believed
Now, I am a backstreet driver from America
I am not at the wheel of control
I am guilty, I am war, I am the root of all evil
Lord, and I can't drive on the left side of the road

It's a hard life
It's a hard life
It's a very hard life
It's a hard life wherever you go
If we poison our children with hatred
Then, the hard life is all they'll ever know
And there ain't no place in this world for these kids to go

Today, on my jog, in the providence of God, my iPod shuffled me this old Nanci Griffith tune, written in Belfast in the midst of the conflict in Northern Ireland. As an American living abroad, I can relate to her exasperation (as well as her struggle trying to drive on the left side of the road).

This past Thursday I met up with an young Iraqi Shiite Muslim woman (Too many adjectives! It sounds like I’m ordering at Starbucks; I don't know which order they are supposed to go in. Maybe I should consult my barista). She had attended one of my seminars last fall on working with Middle Eastern / Muslim students. She was a big help during the seminar. Normally I have a student panel of Muslim students at some point in the day, but, since it was school holidays, they had all fled town. She interjected her personal experiences, which created dialogue and illustrated many of my points.

I inquired about her and her husband’s extended family back in Baghdad. She told me that all of them had been driven from their homes and lost their jobs. They had family in the US and New Zealand, but right now they are not allowing anyone to leave. So they are stuck in the hell hole that Iraq has become. She has been giving money to an orphanage back home, but is unable to tell if the funds even get to those who need it most. We both expressed our frustration at the present realities, “There has got to be something that we can do!” She said that her and her husband, who have a nice life in Auckland, discussed it and are ready to move back in and rebuild Iraq, but presently, it is just too unstable and dangerous. We talked about partnering together -- me and some Christian friends, her and some Muslim friends and family -- to do something, when the time is right, to bring healing to her homeland.

I can’t take it anymore. I feel, as a follower of Jesus, that I must reach out, build relationships and create these kind of partnerships. There are numerous Christians and Muslims in this world that simply want to live in peace, have a job, a simple house, put their kids in school. As Ben Harper sings -- and I sometimes want to scream it like he does:

I'm a living sunset
Lightning in my bones
Push me to the edge
But my will is stone ...I believe in a better way

Fools will be fools
And wise will be wise
But I will look this world
Straight in the eyes ...I believe in a better way

What good is a man
Who won't take a stand
What good is a cynic
With no better plan ...I believe in a better way

Reality is sharp
It cuts at me like a knife
Everyone I know
Is in the fight of their life ...I believe in a better way

Take your face out of your hands
And clear your eyes
You have a right to your dreams
And don't be denied ...I believe in a better way

I believe in a better way

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