Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Picture

The picture haunts me. It shows a small piece of pink fabric, part of a dress, covering a small piece of humanity. The wind softly lifts a strand of her coal black hair. She is lying face down in the street full of rubble, with her arm thrown over the chest of the man beside her. Her face is hidden from view, since it is pressed up against that man. It shows a strong measure of intimacy and familiarity, so I imagine the man is her father, grandfather, uncle, brother, cousin or close neighbor. She no doubt thought of this man as someone big and strong, someone who could protect her and keep her safe.

This little piece of humanity looks so perfect; it is hard to believe she is dead. I wish I could step into the picture and lift her hand, see if there is warmth there or maybe a pulse. She shows no signs of any violence herself.

This is not true of the man she is lies next too. His head is cleanly gone, and a large pool of blood surrounds him. There is no sign of any weapons near these two people, the little girl and the man beside her.

There is no way to know for sure, but the nature of the injury to the man lying dead indicates it was superior American firepower that took him down in the battle of Fallujah. The wound is not reflective of the weapons typically used by the guerrillas.

There is an American soldier in the picture also. He looks away from the little girl and the man, and his gun position indicates that he presently does not feel threatened. I wonder about him too: what is he thinking, smelling, and feeling at that moment of time? What kind of memories will he take with him? How will all of this affect him? Does he know more about the man lying there than the picture would indicate? What kind of scars and battles will he face when he returns home to the United States?

And of course, the questions unanswered by the picture: Did this little girl suffer? Did she die quickly? Did she know what was going on? Was she afraid? Was there a reason she was there, and what was the cause of her death? Was there a reason the man was shot? Was he a threat?

Do Americans even know about this little girl? Has it reached into their awareness? I saw this picture on an internet site, but I did not see it in an American newspaper or on an American television broadcast. Do Americans realize what is going on over there, and do they understand better than I do the reasons behind this continued violence? Do they realize this is the third time we have “liberated” the city of Fallujah and that Fallujah is now reduced to rubble? Do they know that all the water and sewer pipes will need to be replaced, due to the bombing, for a city that holds 300,000? Do they know that a significant number of the residents of this city are now living in tents? Do they know it is wintertime there?

It seems so pointless and futile to me. What a dreary and sad reality our country is creating in Iraq! We are growing enemies where we once had none. We are sowing seeds of hatred and revenge among people we are presumably there to help, people we are supposedly bringing “freedom and democracy”. This little girl has found the freedom of the grave and the democracy of death. She is, at least, beyond all pain and fear and suffering now.

I fear we are recruiting more terrorists every day while we are there in Iraq. Pictures such as the one of the little girl and the man besides her, and pictures that are far, far worse are being shown on Arab television every day. I saw this picture on al Jazeera website.

No comments: