Mothers see #039;need#039; as double-edge sword in Iraq

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 13, 2003

The young mother's voice rose above the laughter in the room.

As the friends turned away from their game, they listened as she spoke passionately.

&uot;It was horrible,' she said, &uot;and I couldn't stop looking at the picture.&uot;

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There, she said, was a young Iraqi boy. &uot;He had lost both of his arms; his body was burned and you could tell the doctors had put some sort of medicine all over it

But it was his eyes

his eyes."

Those eyes told the story of an orphan who lost his family to a bomb blast in the war. "All of them - his parents, his sister - they were gone; he was alone, and there he was

lying in a hospital bed, his life changed forever."

Who would comfort him? She wondered aloud.

"Think about it, what do we do when we're upset or confused? We put our head in our hands. And when we're frightened or scared? We wrap our arms around ourselves

but he can't do that," she continued. "A basic human need to comfort himself, and he can't do it."

As the mother of three young girls, the thought of a child in pain - with no one to offer comfort - was more than she could bear "That child just needs to be held."

So she told her husband that she wanted to buy a plane ticket and fly to Iraq

to comfort the children. "He said I couldn't leave my girls for that long, but I told him they would be just fine. We're sitting here eating hamburgers and watching television and we're just fine

these children? They have no one, they have nothing."

Her story had stopped conversation in the room. All of us there were mothers, and we knew just what she meant.

Ironically, this was the educated, articulate woman who only minutes before had been making the case for the war in Iraq. It was necessary, she said, to oust Saddam Hussein. Well-versed in his history and his family, she detailed the brutality imposed by Hussein's regime, from torture to economic hardships. She knew the history of Hussein's family, including his violent and vengeful sons whose legacy is one of rape, murder, torture, and the politics of his inner circle. She has studied, learned and followed with a

keen interest. Logically, it is the right thing to do.

But, as a mother, she feels the pain of the children - those orphaned, tortured or killed by Saddam Hussein's regime and those whose lives are forever changed by what she believes is a necessary war.

It's an ambivalence felt by many of us these days. Even as we support our president and our military, we somehow feel the pain of each wound - whether American or Iraqi. It's our humanity, of course, that allows us to feel that pain; to connect; to yearn to reach out and help.

It's the same humanity that drove our leaders and our military to step in - and step forward - in an effort to put an end to the evils associated with Saddam Hussein.

And it's that same humanity we will need in the days, months and years ahead as the Iraqis struggle to rebuild their country and their lives.

Let's pray that, just like my friend, we continue to care.

Stacy G. Graning is publisher of The Messenger. She can be reached at 670-6308 or via e-mail,