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July 11, 2005


I posted this on my blog, in response to the london bombing, thought i would share it with you too.
Islam really is not about this madness, this perversion...i'm a muslim and it shames me to see them stain my name thus with their blood.

address lost

on a beautiful day smokeblackenedthesun. beyond the borders, shouts and cries; itssafeinside. the neighbour's screams ricochets of deaf walls. clothes,bonestissuesandtyre -burning pyres. later, silence. echoesundnightmares
indifferent sunshine over congealed blood.

Thank you, gulnaz. No, Islam is not about this, and I wish more people could understand what it is at its heart.

I heard someone on the radio yesterday say something to the effect of "terrorism is not about religion, it's about politics." I very much believe that, but I also recognize that religion can be a cohesive factor in banding people together to act politically. That applies to both terrorists and to so-called "legitimate" state-sponsored military actions.

Hey, I saw that rosemary plant too -- or one like it. Huge!

Beth, I plan to try and respond to your invitation and appreciate your initiative.

Meantime, I'm puzzled about the rosemary. Is a plant of this size really unusual in North America, or just one this big in a pot? Here, and certainly in Mediterranean countries, rosemary bushes are often this size or bigger, and increasingly, since herbs became so popular, you also see big ones for sale in pots. My next door neighbour's front garden boasts one about 4 feet high and 3 feet across. Sadly, it's too near to traffic for me to help myself to sprigs for my rosemary tea, but passing and smelling it is a daily summer pleasure. Something of a reversal of the usual if bigger ones are more common over here :-) (and, yes, I think fixating on the rosemary and going on about it as such length is a defence mechanism).

Yes, it's unusual in the northeast. Rosemary isn't hardy here, so it can only be overwintered in pots. Without a greenhouse, my plant, anyway, tends to struggle through the low-light winter and emerge rather brown and leggy, although it's now several years old. This specimen looks more like a Californian to me!

Mmm, I should have thought about the colder winters...

I have a lot of Rosemary growing around my house in California - I just love it. And some of it is getting larger than any other rosemary I've ever seen! Probably because I just leave it alone. I had no idea when I planted it.

I appreciate your invitation, beth, and also appreciate gulnaz' post. I understand about feeling ashamed and angry at what some people are doing in your name. I feel that way about what the US is doing in Iraq. I want to remind readers that shrub did NOT have a mandate from his people to go to war. He barely had half the vote. The rest of us are steaming, but feel powerless to influence the course of events! Just as Muslims must feel when they see their subtle and very pure religion portrayed as violent and rageful. But it's all so complex! I don't want to get started.

I especially loved gulnaz' poem. yes

i'm also glad to have an introduction to her blog.

thanks, beth!

Here in London, I’m moved by your invitation, Beth, and endorse your hopes of the blogosphere. Last Thursday morning I was in my office, some ten minutes walk from the explosions at Russell Square. I was shaken and I keep crying. Odd - I haven’t cried easily since I was a kid. Getting softer-hearted with advancing age, I suppose, and a good thing too. The warm words of blog-friends from around the world when I wrote about this in my own blog meant a great deal. I feel clearer than I ever have that my little piece of the online world is somewhere I’m glad to be and potentially a force for good.

I was distressed, for her and in general, by Julia’s remark on your earlier post that none of her colleagues in the US emailed to ask if she was ok or with good wishes. I would have been very hurt too, in her place. ALL the colleagues in Los Angeles with whom I work on a joint programme emailed me early in their morning with kind, concerned enquiries. Which proves only that there are caring and uncaring people everywhere.

As the days go by I’m increasingly numbed, and decreasingly inclined to read or engage with those whose reactions are not mine. I’m sickened by the “British way of life” rhetoric because, even when well meant (giving the benefit of the doubt) it divides. Division, identification with one group and not another, is at the heart of enmity and thus of violence, isn’t it?

I’m pretty much of a pacifist. I can’t see any difference between a dead Londoner and a dead citizen of Baghdad, or of any city. I can’t conceive of a just war, however dreadful the opponent, or see much difference between war and terrorism. I DON’T mean that I can’t see much difference between a soldier and a terrorist. Whilst I deplore their decision, I do understand some of the things that motivate young people to join armies, from unemployment to the attractions of discipline and community. I don’t begin, though, to understand the politicians who send them to war. I fear that politics is such a strange lifestyle it attracts very odd, compartmentalised, unimaginative people with an extra-large need for power and adulation. This is frightening. Ultimately even more frightening than the few crazy terrorists who cause such horror and havoc.

I’m not a particularly good person. So why am I on the side of peace, implacably opposed to violence, whilst so many are not? This is the question I come back to – and feel lost before. So do most people, perhaps. Perhaps that’s why it’s so taboo in public discourse to raise the question of what motivates terrorists, of whether hopelessness, humiliation, oppression are the recruiting ground for fanaticism – the subject no public person can raise without being reviled. Even though I do care, I mostly avoid this hard, hard question. The proximity of last week’s events makes it, for a while, impossible to avoid.

Finally, last Saturday I went to the celebrations of the Dalai Lama’s 70th birthday hosted by the London Tibetan community. One of the speakers recalled how he is fond of saying: “All human problems are only solved by human contact”. Simple, but not simplistic.

Jean has expressed so well what are also my own feelings about this subject that all I can add is: Amen.

thank you kasturi aka karen. :)

Beth, as a Brit I would like to thank you for your gracious invitation.

On Monday I drafted a response to it that could have been authored by the Dalai Lama; the second response I wrote yesterday would have made Attila the Hun flinch. All over the place in other words - angry, apprehensive and fearful, sad.

I did not use the Underground on Thursday morning since my usual line was non operational for reasons nothing to do with the bombing. I only realised what had happened when I arrived at work. Since then I have been following the news compulsively, and in horror.

I am not a pacifist but believe that the last just war was probably World War II. I am not a political activist and am probably best described as somewhere in the centre. I worked for many years in an Islamic organisation alongside Muslim colleagues, so I know very well this isn't what Islam is about. But I spent a good deal of yesterday hating the bombers until I realised that in doing this I was starting down the same path that they had followed. I too am avoiding discussion of this with people I do not agree with.

What to do? Carry on, be kind, pray, try and stay hopeful, do what I think is right, take care of myself, others and the planet as much as possible. What else is there?

Hello Mary. I haven't felt anger yet, but I'm sure it will come. I'm just wondering are you the Mary who comments on my blog?

yes, Jean it's me!! I found you through Beth.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.