Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The sound of gunfire

When I hear the sound of gunfire I think of hunting.

When Erin hears the sound of gunfire she thinks of people being killed.

I'm afraid that Iraqi children will be more like Erin than me.

I grew up in a family of hunters and I live as an adult in a rural area where deer hunting and wild turkey hunting are common. I started hunting when I was ten or twelve years old and while I was never an enthusisastic hunter I accepted hunting as a natural and good part of life.

Erin didn't grow up with guns. For the past several years she has been part of Christian Peacemaker Teams. As part of CPT she's spent the last couple of years in Colombia trying to bring safety to fisherman and farmers who are caught between guerillas, paramilitaries, and the army. Whenever she sees men carrying guns in Colombia they are guns designed to kill people.
Her emotional response is that guns should be kept away from her and the people she loves.

She and the rest of the CPT members are always unarmed. They believe that you cannot bring
peace through guns. Last spring a CPT team pulled up in a canoe to a small village in Colombia. They were greeted by an eight year-old frightened girl rushing up to them, crying out, "They are going to kill my Dad. They are going to kill my Dad."

The CPT team entered the house where the paramilitary was accusing one of the villagers of supporting the guerillas. They were planning to kill him as has happened to many Colombians in similar situations.

The CPT team stayed and talked with the paramilitary until they finally decided to leave. The man whose life had been saved then left for another part of Colombia for fear that the paramilitary would return to kill him.

I grew up with guns as hunting weapons. It's hard to imagine children growing up seeing and hearing only weapons that kill people.

I'm afraid that's what's happening in Iraq these days. That was painfully brought home to me ths morning when I viewed the photos shot by an Iraqi, Dar Jamal. The photos are displayed at an anti-Bush website but they do give a glimpse of what it's like to be a child in a war zone. I encourage you to look at the children's faces.

I am afraid these children will not be like me and think of hunting when they hear gunfire.

The recent election may be hopeful sign. Still I wonder what it will be like for these children to grow up...

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