So this evening, I had class with SABIC. The session went well: we discussed dealing with problems, using diplomatic language, handling uncomfortable situations, etc. For the current events part of the lesson, we read an article written last year for the Guardian. Basically, it reported on the abductions of humanitarian aid workers and how that prompted the pull out of many NGOs in Iraq. We touched on some interesting topics in class– whether hostage-taking was effective, whether a country occupied by a foreign military had the right to kill innocent civilians, whether the media should broadcast the realities of war (for example, the beheadings of hostages)… That my students responded with anti-US jabs didn’t surprise me, but I was a little disappointed they answered the questions only in the context of the US occupation in Iraq. To me, these issues apply anywhere there is conflict: it could be the Middle East, it could be Afghanistan, it could be right here in China… oh well, I wasn’t exactly sure whether to bring up the recent villager uprisings in Guangdong.
On my commute home, I tuned in to NPR and Dem Now on the iPod. The particular show I had downloaded talked about the 4 CPT hostages taken by militants. Now, I’m not religious, and I don’t agree with missionary activities… Not sure what their programs entail elsewhere in the world, but in Iraq, the CPTers joined with Iraqis in calling for human rights for detainees and an end to the unjust war. Anyway, the DemNow show concluded with a statement delivered by Tom Fox’s daughter, Katherine. FYI, Tom Fox is the only American among the four hostages, and he’s from Virginia. I was so touched and moved by Ms. Fox’s speech that I nearly choked on the train. And after I arrived home, poor John was treated to a total meltdown. There’s just something about these people who leave everything to pursue a passion, a hope, a dream. I really admire that strength and courage. And it made me sad, because I realized that I should do more. I need to convert all this fragility and hypersensitivity bullshit into action, because for one, it’s a damn inconvenience. I mean, literally, I can crack in public any second. But anyway, enough about me. Judge for yourself: here’s the transcript of Ms. Fox’s speech. For the full effect, listen to the tailend of the Dec. 12th broadcast of DemNow.
I am the daughter of Tom Fox. My father made a choice to travel to Iraq and listen to those who are not heard. He meets with families who are missing loved ones. He has spent most of his time in Iraq trying to free detainees. I did not want my father to go to a country where his American citizenship could potentially overshadow his peaceful reasons for being there. But this is who my father is. He is deeply committed to a peaceful resolution to these issues. He is there because the Iraqi people are not being heard and are, so often, not supported. I feel as if this has to be a mistake that he has been taken. He is there only shed light on the experiences of each Iraqi he meets. He is there to help. Peacefully, respectfully and completely.
He tells me of how well he has been welcomed by the families he has met. The graciousness, mercy and compassion he has experienced in the country is something he often mentions when we speak. Neighbors come to visit and bring food and kindness. He is moved by the warmth of the people he has met.
In pictures, in video, my dad looks so tired right now. So very tired. I do not care to imagine. I struggle to even find the space to experience my own emotions.
I want to be able to communicate just how loved my father is, but more than that, I just want to hug him. I want to find a way to give him back the strength he has given me.
I want to show him how much the peace in his heart has inspired me and helped me find my way in life.
My dad has always been a wanderer. He believes that the real purpose of travel is to experience environments different than our own. When my brother and I were little, our family would visit a different city every year. We took trains or buses and once there, traveled by foot as often as possible. We tried new food and went to museums. We got lost on purpose so that we were able to learn a new way back. As children, my brother and I did not always see the value in this, but my father was teaching us to see opportunity in every step, planned or otherwise. My dad loves the outdoors – when we travel as a family, we always visit the parks; on weekends he takes us hiking in the Appalachian mountains. Each time my father returns from Iraq, he visits the same mountain in Virginia. This is his way to center himself and rejuvenate, to find the calm and peace that he hopes to impart to others.
My dad wasn’t a Marine, he was a musician. He politely refuses military discounts. He practiced his clarinet every day and once my brother and I began to play instruments, he encouraged us to do the same. He still carries with him the rhythm of that life. He still enjoys the music of language. As he travels, he brings a recorder with him so that he can always express the music that is in his heart.
But above all else, my father is a listener. Even when no one is speaking. He values the honesty of silence. And when he speaks, there is respect and kindness in his voice, a strength that stands in quiet testimony to the life he has chosen to lead.
I love my father. I am so thankful to have been raised by such a loving, honest, gentle man who continues to teach me the importance of living by my principles.
He is my support and my guide. I need him safe and with me again. I will continue to hold him and everyone that he is with in the Light and pray for a peaceful resolution. Please let him go. I need him home.