I have walked Baghdad’s streets: the vendors, the families, the lives churning.
I have walked Boston’s streets: the vendors, the families, the lives churning.
There are a lot of similarities between these two cities.
Seeing the upheaval over the bombings in Boston has deeply grieved my heart. I hate war – in all its forms. And the attacks in Boston are a form of war. War isn’t just about nations striving against nations; it’s about unrest, it’s about fury, it’s about a climate (whether individual or corporate) that spews hatred via violence and death on other people.
Baghdad is one of my very favorite cities in all the world. Having spent seventeen years praying for that city, it is very important to my heart. Moreover, I have spent weeks in Baghdad. I know its curves, its smiles, its dreams. I love Baghdad.
I also lived thirty minutes north of Boston for four years. While there, I asserted my spiritual responsibility to pray into that region’s destiny. I roamed the streets of Boston for countless hours. I know quite well the segments of streets where the bombs went off. Ouch. Those images are awful.
In seeing those images I immediately thought of my beloved Baghdad. Someone’s Boston is someone else’s Baghdad – their hometown, their neighborhood, their family’s dwelling place. Both cities matter.
I hope that the bombings in Boston bring more understanding to Americans of what many people living in cities like Baghdad experience DAILY. Imagine worrying about going to the grocery store, school, or a friend’s house because of the potential to be blown up on the way. It’s a rough way to live.
Of course, I wish the incidents in Boston never happened. I wish the incidents in Baghdad never happened. I wish there was no war anywhere. Since that isn’t the case yet, I do want to use this moment of similarity to bring to the forefront the universal pain of war.
Perhaps this week’s experience will help Americans think more holistically before they support war in other nations. Perhaps it will open up the reality of how evil war and death are. Perhaps it will draw out the courage within all of us to search out solutions which prevent war.
I pray so.
In the meantime, as you ponder these elements, here are some articles for your contemplative fuel.
(With the above article, I’d like to note that I know exactly where “a parking area used by vehicles making their way to Baghdad’s heavily-guarded airport” is. I got out of one heavily armored vehicle and into another at that very parking area (all while surrounded by a security detail of eight armed men) when I was leaving the Baghdad airport in 2011.)
Lastly, I ‘d like to ask ,”Who will go to Boston, Baghdad, and other places experiencing war?”
These places need hope. They need people to be their advocates. We can change cities and nations from war zones to peace zones.
As Jesus said, “Go into all the world.” (Mark 16:15)
Ask the Holy Spirit right now, what your part is to play in this peace-making.
(P.S. I love you. I love your city. May both flourish today.)