Hi, my name is Andrea LeBlanc. I am happy to be here with you.
Martin Luther King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Twice recently, I have listened while someone implored me to go beyond the boundaries of my comfort. So here I am…standing at the edges. I realized that one of the most frightening things to me about what has been happening in this country is apathy, my own included, …or maybe it isn’t apathy so much as just a disbelief that this looming war will affect us personally in any serious way…or maybe it is an unwillingness to think about the people it will affect most.
My husband, Robert LeBlanc, was killed Sept. 11, 2001.
Bob taught Cultural Geography at UNH for 35 yrs.
He spent his life pursuing a better understanding of people and the reasons they lived where they lived, spoke the languages they spoke, ate what they ate, believed what they believed.
He was insatiably curious and open.
He delighted in the variousness of human cultures.
He was respectful and did not condemn…but rather tried to understand.
He was forever eager to see the places where people live, listen to the stories, walk in the markets, taste the food, hear the music, stand in the holy places to better know his fellow human beings.
Bob celebrated the wondrous diversity he found in the world…and he shared this wonder and excitement with his students and friends and family.
He believed that meeting people on their own ground with a willingness to try to know and understand the problems they struggle with and the joys they celebrate makes our common humanity more obvious and undeniable.
I am telling you all this because I think the realities of who the Iraqi people are…their faces, their lives…has gotten overlooked, missed somehow in all the rhetoric about saving Iraq from Saddam Hussein and for democracy, which I suspect isn’t the real motivation for this war in any case.
Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
On Sept. 11 I thought about what the mothers of those boys, the hijackers, must be feeling.
I know the media said they were proud their sons died martyrs.
But somehow I think that the hearts of those women must have been torn and bleeding.
Those mothers must be suffering still…as we still are.
I thought too about what it must be like to be Osama bin Laden, to live with that much hate in your heart. Or to be Saddam Hussein….or George Bush, for that matter. There must be pain there too.
There are many things that I don’t even begin to understand.
I don’t understand revenge.
I don’t understand the arrogance of our government.
I don’t understand the silence of our Senators and Congressmen (most of them, anyway).
I don’t understand the kind of hunger for power our leaders seem to have.
I don’t understand why the media gives so little attention to the cries for peace in this country.
I don’t understand the reasons we, who live in the wealthiest nation on earth, don’t use our resources and expertise to insure that the disposessed in developing nations…and in the US…have clean water, food, medicine, education,the means to support themselves with dignity.
Surely this is less expensive than bombs.
Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to destroy your enemy is to make him a friend.” In my attempts to understand these things, words come to mind like fear, ignorance, indifference, greed…and I wonder if they have something to do with what is happening.
There are a few things I do understand and know to be true, however.
I know that when people are oppressed and desperate they do desperate things.
I know that when people feel they are not heard and have no choices and no way out of their suffering they are easily persuaded to violence.
I know that it is easier to fear and hate someone if you see them as “other” …or if you don’t see them at all.
I know that it is easier to be for a war if you don’t think about the people whose lives will be destroyed.
I know that violence begets violence.
I know this war in wrong.
Thanks for being here.
15 marzo 2003
Salve, mi chiamo Andrea LeBlanc e sono felice di essere qui insieme a voi.
Martin Luther King ha detto: