Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.


It's Never Been a Matter of Military Might

Iraq's new government has been discussing ways to bring marginalized Sunnis, like her, back on board.

Even the soldiers in the Hummer agree. As Talib drives along, he says that if the residents felt they had more sway in government they could drive out the Islamic State tomorrow. But as things stand, no one thinks that's going to happen anytime soon.

From a story I heard on NPR this morning while driving to work: Iraq's Abu Ghraib Is Back In The News, Now As A Front-Line Town

This conflict, as with most, won't end successfully due to weapons; it will end when people feel they can be part of a greater good.  That's where the battles need to be fought, in diplomacy and community building.  Shared purpose, identity, and vision.

Recently I had the opportunity to hear a talk by Sadi Othman.  It was at the homecoming weekend festivities at Hesston College, which he attended.  Hesston is basically my hometown, and many relatives on both sides of my family have taught and worked there, including my dad, his dad, and two of my mom's brothers.  One of those uncles, along with his wife, was being honored that weekend after 31 years recruiting--and somewhat parenting--international students for the school, and the weekend's theme developed from that.  Their family has also lived abroad numerous times, and my uncle taught Othman as a high schooler in Palestine (and perhaps a few years before that during an earlier stay, as well; he mentioned meeting Sadi as a 6th grader).  Later, he recruited Sadi to the college.  They have stayed in contact since, not only has teacher and student but as friends.  In honor of that, Othman gave the keynote speech for the weekend.

From Translator, cultural adviser strives to give peace a chance:
Othman advanced from there to the Mennonite High School, Beit-Jala, on the West Bank near Bethlehem. . . .

He later earned a college degree at another Mennonite institution, Hesstown College, Hesston, Kan.

Othman also served as a translator for numerous political leaders, including President Barack Obama, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates, former secretaries of state and defense, respectively.

"I am not religious, but I was influenced strongly by traditional Mennonite values that emphasize service and peacemaking," said Othman, who lives in New York City and is a business executive with North America Western Asia Holdings, a company committed to American infrastructure investment projects in Iraq.

In the often unsettling world of the Middle East, Othman has been praised as an indispensable resource in helping to bring leaders together to defuse tensions.
Othman has also become friends with General David Petraeus, for whom he became a top adviser during Petraeus's time in Iraq.  See the first couple of pages embedded below from Tell Me how this Ends: General David Petraeus and the Search for a Way Out of Iraq by Linda Robinson.  He is a private citizen, not military or government, but he was asked to return to Iraq during some of the tumult in the past year.  During his keynote he spoke of his efforts to bring the different factions into amenable communication with each other, including playing a part in convincing al-Maliki it was time to resign.  He knows the politics of the area and a good many of the power players.

Sadi concluded his too brief, informal, improvised speech by saying he sees signs that ISIS may succeed, for the first time in a long time, in getting all of the factions fighting for power to set aside their differences and unify against a common threat.  We can only hope.


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