An excerpt from my mind, this was written about 3 months ago.
She sits across the small room from me, looking into me as though a mirror crept through my eyes.
The German Integration class is a wonderful collection of people from around the world. Never did I think that I would be sitting in a small classroom, in an old refurnished German building. The room is set up in a typical fashion, with a large U shaped desk area for the young and old brains to soak up the language. Our teacher can be heard behind a closed door, and halfway down the hall, she is a boisterous one.
We humans hail from countries across this global rock. From Thailand to Jordan, bouncing back from Romania to Iraq and then back from Poland to Syria, from Russia to Serbia and from the Dominican Republic finally to the United States. The laughter created in this classroom is of the same kind of those little kids that are playing in the playground just below our second floor window. School is school, but it’s the people and the faces that make it interesting, it’s what makes life breathe.
Her dark eyes always blink with a smile. Sometimes after so much laughter, she picks the book up to hide behind it as though she were changing into a new person. Feeling as though there was something more to her, something she wanted to tell me, but what and more importantly why? I am just a simple American in a foreign land, which in itself is rare…nonetheless I am submerged in this culture with only one window out and that is this little tiny screen that I am joining you with.
It’s been 3 months that I have been to this class, and the friendships that I have grown through broken words, is quite honestly, amazing. To be with so many random people from around the world, and to have one language in common, that of German, or in my case, broken and quite slow German. To build a relationship one only needs a smile. A glimmer in the eye will set you free for moments at a time, and this is all you need to give and or receive to understand in oneself.
It was during the 20 minute break that I was staring at the wall. A map of the world strewn out before me. I’ve always loved maps, I don’t know why, and to be honest they never change, but something about them controls my captivation. She walked up next to me, I asked her where in Iraq she was from. She pointed to a place in the southern part of the country. Her friend, also from Iraq, smiled, as she had found Iraq on the map now…..and pointed to the northern part, where she was from.
A few weeks ago we did a speaking exercise and in it my friend had said that she loved to talk to her mom. So going off of this little piece of memory that I had, I asked her in broken German, if that is where her mom lived too, pointing to the southern area of Iraq. The look on her face changed, she glanced to the side a little, thinking, and then came back to my eyes. She said a few more words in German, ones that I had never heard. Her friend and her did a nice little charade to show me the opposite of “leben.” Leben in German is to live. So gathering this knowledge I learned that her mother, her father, and her uncle were all killed by the United States Army. I guess writing that is weird, but believe me, standing in front of this girl and being the person that I am, it felt a little weirder in this moment, to stand in front of an innocent girl, and think, what did my taxes go to? How have I allowed an illegal war to fester for so long? 9 years? What is it? 8 years now? Oh that’s right, they are moving all the troops out as of TODAY?!! So now what?
I continue to look into her eyes, and yet I don’t know what to say, even in English I would be at a loss of words. She tells me that she’ll bring in a newspaper the next day, I agree and look forward to seeing this “newspaper.”
It’s amazing how one can live in a country so isolated from the rest of the world, and not even know of anyone else in the world. To be engulfed with stress from work, to paying bills, to feeding your kids, to buying insurance, to paying for a house, and all the while this is going on, with your nose stuck in the rut, the country you support blindly, is killing innocent people. I don’t care what you call it, a “War on Terror,” or “Ya we’re helping them because we’re freeing them, we’re implementing democracy!!” Ya, no. How are we so blind to the truth? This hangover of carbon dioxide mixed with flouride is killing me! Literally. We’ve been set up on this land as an experimental mouse, running to the sound of our creaking wheel. Levers being pulled here and there to see our response, scientifically measuring…..polluting….and still we run in circles, not from side to side, rather in place, so that we don’t move one inch. Our minds are blank yet our eyes see. We know the horrors of war and still we support blindly. We’ve been sold an idea that only profits the elite. This concept has been tweaked a million times throughout history, but the result is always the same.
She returned the next day and even before class started, she swiftly walked over to me and handed me a single worn out white piece of paper. A regular 8 X 11 copy of a “claim.” This claim was filled out by the United States Army. Almost like an insurance claim, it described a life changing event. She was driving with her family down a highway near Baghdad. A US convoy opened fire. This is all the claim says, sure it adds some details that her mother was taken to the Green Zone, but other than that, no reason as to why they opened fire. No answer to who opened fire, I guess in war it really doesn’t matter. These little people in your way just are that, in your way. She lost her father, mother and uncle that day. On the back of the claim, it stated how much she was “compensated” for her loss / accident: $2,000 American dollars. What can I do to help her?
I cannot make things “right.” I cannot make things “wrong.” I have accepted that it is my goal to draw her something that will symbolize something internal. Something that can not be spoken of, for it is times like these that warrant a calm silence.
I can’t tell her that it’s all bullshit. The US can’t even account for BILLIONS (maybe shall we say a trillion?) of dollars that the government shelled out, but ya, they’ll compensate you on opening fire on civilians on a highway, $2000. Yep. And this is besides the fact that human lives can never be equated to a fiat currency or any symbol of wealth for that matter. And still we march on, to the beat of a silent drum. Without question as we watch innocent people continue to melt back into this Earth in which they came.
My heart is with her, and as I have to look into her eyes everyday, across the room, saying to her, through the space, that everything is meant to be, and those that will be, will continue to shape this world without a threat of fear, a use of terror, but the use of an unconditional heart that loves blindly, across colors and words, throughout rivers and oceans, to our soul’s door and through, on to something that which we can truly proclaim, tis but Heaven on Earth.
This is my dream. I will continue to walk and dream my friends.
I hope you are all doing lovely.