That first trip marked the beginning of a very long journey. I continued to visit Iraq with various humanitarian organizations. At home, I launched a fundraising campaign to help support Iraqi families who had become an integral part of my life.
My experiences in Iraq have led me to write a book tentatively entitled Iraq: A Human Narrative, and I need your help to cover the cost of a professional editor. He is the co-founder of Common Courage Press, publisher of people like Jennifer Harbury, Noam Chomsky, Philip Berrigan, Howard Zinn and others. (Unfortunately, Common Courage Press is no longer active.) All the money I raise through my GoFundMe campaign will go directly to the editor of my book.
What Your Support Will Mean
Because he believes my book will make a significant contribution to the cause of peace, my editor will discount the final cost by 10%. The latest version of my book is over 100,000 words and covers a great deal of territory—from the first Gulf War of 1991 to the present influx of extremists into Iraq. Your support will mean I can afford to have my book edited by a seasoned pro who is sympathetic to the issues I raise and who will increase the chances of my book being published.
What My Book Is About
My book places the events of the past 20 years in the context of US foreign policy decisions, including the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 ostensibly to search for weapons of mass destruction. My book also tells the stories of individuals and families whom I encountered in Iraq, and whose love and friendship have forever changed my life.
As a work of historical nonfiction that blends storytelling, poetry, memoir, and analysis, the book will hopefully inspire readers to see more clearly how decisions made in Washington affect the lives of ordinary people in targeted countries like Iraq.
The book tells the story of my deepening involvement with Iraq—her people, her history, and the series of crises that have brought so much suffering.
The narrative begins with the first Gulf War in 1991, continues through the period of sanctions, and the U.S. invasion and occupation, and concludes with a look at Iraq’s current situation. The book has three main sections. The first two sections are divided into chapters. Each chapter consists of two or more related stories. The last section is drawn from interviews I conducted with Iraqi refugees in Amman, Jordan.
To sample a short excerpt of the most current version of the manuscript, you can visit my blog: http://iraqfamilyrelief.blogspot.com
The excerpt includes the table of contents and the preface.
My book does not focus on Iraq’s ever-changing political landscape. Nor does it attempt a scholarly approach to the material. Rather, my book is concerned with the impact of sanctions, war, and occupation on the lives of ordinary Iraqis and the way these larger issues are in turn refracted through their lives. In the first two-thirds of the book, I tell the stories of people I have met in the course of visiting Iraq as a peace activist over a six-year period. I contextualize their stories, so readers can see the links between the policies and decisions of the federal government and the experiences of the Iraqi people. The final third of the book focuses on the stories of Iraqi refugees whom I met and interviewed in Jordan.
Throughout the book, I have added poems I wrote in response to what I witnessed in Iraq. The poems are perhaps the most direct expressions of how specific events and individuals affected me. Readers will also find photos that provide a visual component to the overall story.
I’ve titled the book “A Human Narrative” because the story it tells is also the story of my own life since I first became concerned with events in Iraq and the role of the U.S. and other Western powers in causing a humanitarian disaster. At the start of my “journey,” I had little idea that the direction of my life would change so radically as I found myself becoming inextricably caught up in the ongoing struggles of Iraqi families and individuals I had come to know.
Reasons to Support My Campaign
These days, with anti-Muslim rhetoric on the rise and seemingly unending and escalating crises in the Middle East, I feel my book would go a long way toward humanizing the people whom we in the West have tended to denigrate and fear. The book is filled with stories about real people in Iraq who opened their hearts to me. They told me about their fears and expectations, their hopes for the future, what they have loved and what they have lost in the course of facing one hardship after another.
I believe these stories need to be shared so that people who aren’t Iraqi or have never been to the Middle East might more keenly appreciate the human costs of aggression, whether in the form of punishing sanctions or outright invasion. It is my hope that a deeper understanding of the lives of ordinary people in targeted countries may lead to feelings of empathy and compassion for those people, and that these in turn will bring the prospect of peace that much closer.
You may have heard or read about something extraordinary that happened along parts of the Western Front during World I. On Christmas Eve, 1914, German and Allied soldiers, packed into fortified trenches sometimes only yards apart, stopped fighting. The temperature had dropped, and a sparkling frost dazzled the battlefield. The Germans put up Christmas trees lit with lanterns above the trenches and began singing Christmas carols.
Allied soldiers responded with songs of their own. Soon the men on both sides left the trenches and congregated in the no man’s land between them. They shared postcards of their loved ones, exchanged gifts of food and cigarettes, and in some places along the Front played a game of soccer.
This historic Christmas Truce succeeded, if only for the duration of a night and day, to humanize the “other.” When the men went back to the trenches and picked up their rifles once again, they were no longer looking at the “enemy” through their gun sights but a real person with a family like their own—someone whose hand they might have shook during the truce. According to a report in the Manchester Guardian, “French and German soldiers who had thus fraternized subsequently refused to fire on one another and had to be removed from the trenches and replaced by other men.”
I hope my book will in some small way contribute to the spirit of common humanity that prevailed during the 1914 Christmas Truce—a spirit this tired old world of ours so badly needs today.
Other Ways to Support My Campaign
· Besides making a cash donation, you might consider posting a link to my campaign on your Facebook timeline or any other social media you use, such as Instagram and Twitter.
· Letting your friends know about my campaign via email or in person will also get the word out and increase the likelihood of donations.
I will greatly appreciate whatever measure or type of support you can contribute to my campaign.
Thanks so much for your interest in helping me.
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