Blog Post # 221 – Ancient Hatred

My eldest son has been studying Mesopotamia in history class.

The area where civilization began.

We quizzed Ismail off flash cards that he prepared this weekend.

Many of the questions were about military leaders and big battles that occurred three thousand years ago in and around modern-day Iraq.

Yesterday, I spent the day at the immigration office with two of my clients who are seeking asylum in the U.S.

They each fear returning to Iraq due to the sectarian violence.

Killing. Kidnapping. Ransom. Torture.

Religion. Race. Tribes. Ancient grievances.

I spent 7 hours with an asylum officer and my clients listening to a litany thing of horrible things that we humans do to each other.

When I got in the car, the NPR host was interviewing a woman who worked for Amnesty International studying the religious violence in Iraq as the Shia-backed Iraqi army retook Fallujah.

A new assault on Mosul began this week.

It occurred to me that we, as humans, have been fighting with each other since time began.

Hating each other. Killing each other. Justifying all of it in the name of fairness, religion or whatever other rationalization that we can come up with.

Ancient hatreds.

It really, really saddened me.

It is quite a thing to hear an immigration officer ask the beautiful 14 year old twin boys of one of my clients whether they had ever made a bomb, hurt anyone or kill anyone.

Luckily, American law provides that if my clients establish a credible fear of being persecuted if they return to Iraq, they will be allowed to stay.

One small step towards peace.

Saving lives and shielding our clients from hate.

The fact is, we cannot save everyone.

But if we can change the trajectory of the lives of even a few, all of the hard work is entirely worth it.

God bless them. God bless us. Peace.