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Lessons drawn from an Iraqi boy named, Youssif

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Message Mary MacElveen
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Over the past seven years as a writer or as I would rather call myself a conversationalist in which I try to engage my readers in some form of dialogue concerning the human condition, I never know how one piece or another will be received.  But, an amazing thing did happen as a result of me writing two columns on that burnt Iraqi boy named Youssif.  I was contacted by Emma Vaughn who is a producer for CNN to appear on their network for an interview concerning his plight.


I have never been interviewed on television for any piece during my past seven years of writing, but went with the flow.  I reminded myself that the story was not about me, but that precious little boy who will be coming to this country in which thousands upon thousands of CNN viewers asked how they could help.  These viewers opened up both their hearts and their wallets to help one child.  All that did deserve much praise.  They took action in a world that is often filled with rhetoric.  Even Dr. Peter Grossman will be donating his services for free to help heal this little boy.  For that he deserves a medal and our prayers.


When asked on-air what drew me to this one particular story, it was Youssif.  Seeing his images via CNN made this writer break down and cry.  Seeing what was done to him by these masked men was maddening.  Whoever they are, they are worse then terrorists.  They are demonic in nature.  That is the only way I could describe my reaction to this story.  While they may never be arrested, tried and convicted since Iraq has an unstable government at this point, I am hoping that in some way they will pay for what they did to this little boy.


I have to say that I was humbled when CNN chose to interview me.  I have to admit I was a bit nervous, but again, the story was not about me, but Youssif.  I kept his picture near me in my purse to use it as my guide. It also taught me that we all can make a difference for those most needy.


You may ask; why did Yousiff’s story hit me and that is because wars create the worst environment for the most innocent of us all and that is the world’s children.  His image as well as innocence reminded me of Ali Abbas who became the first real known and high profiled victim of the Iraq War.  Not only did he lose his arms as his home crashed down around him, he lost his entire family.  It is my understanding that his arms are now buried along with his family members.  Like Youssif, many came to Ali’s aid as well.


If you are a boomer like me the image of that girl running naked in Viet Nam because Napalm burnt away her clothing became a riveting force that drew anger from many in this country.  I would love for the media to keep flashing these images in front of us.  Maybe, just maybe we can shout with a deafening roar to those in Washington, D.C. to shut this war down for good.


There must be a lesson here when complete strangers will come to the aid of these children of war.  They are first brought to our attention by the media and that is when we do react and take a stand against powerful forces that look to rip the humanity from all of us.  War after all is as inhumane as it gets.


Another lesson is that last November in our midterm elections, Americans went to the polls looking for a change of course as it relates to the war in Iraq.  Sadly, we have not seen such a change, but more of the same.  Perhaps those that opened up their hearts and wallets were taking a stand against the politicians in Washington, D.C.  That is the only thing that I can come up with after being interviewed.


As we listen to these politicians and presidential candidates, it is a one-sided conversation in which we only get to hear what they are saying and they do not hear us.  Maybe Youssif became our voice.  The thing we must all understand is that there are many Youssifs in Iraq who are maimed for life or lost their life due to this heinous war and that is what these politicians just do not understand.


In listening to Lou Dobbs Tonight hours after being interviewed and hearing how thousands of viewers opened up their pockets to help Youssif, I was deeply angered to hear that the “The new House defense appropriations bill contains $3 billion of earmarks for congressmen's pet projects, or, in other words, to put it plainly, pork. Taxpayers for Common Sense says the bill contains an astonishing 1,339 earmarks.” I must call this the utter perversion of politics.  These politicians would rather fund their pet projects instead of using tax-payer money to help innocent children just like Youssif?


Nothing in Washington, D.C. has changed when CNN’s Jessica Yellin who is a congressional correspondent reported, "The New York Times," Congressman Rahm Emanuel said Democrats made major changes to those pork barrel spending tools called earmarks. Democrats never promised to eliminate earmarks. We promised to reform them, he writes. And brags, "That was a pledge we kept" -- this from a congressman who has requested more than $174 million for pet projects this year alone.” I can think of a number of humanitarian ways to spend that $174 million dollars.  Can’t you?


Yellin also reported, “Emanuel also boasts that Democrats cut earmark spending in half this year. But there's no way to confirm it. Still, Democrats, just like Republicans before them, rely on earmarks to get business done. Case in point, in March, the Democratic House passed an emergency war spending bill. Although it was eventually vetoed, they inserted billions of dollars of pork in it, including $25 million for spinach growers, $74 million to store peanuts, and $252 million for a milk program for dairy farmers.” She then goes onto say, “What does any of that have to do with Iraq? Nothing.”


I think what bothers me is that you do not include pet projects in a defense bill that is supposed to protect the security of this nation.  You do not reward special interests when children like Youssif are feeling the horrors of war.


The other night when I was listening to a report coming from Michael Ware, he was showing images of mothers and children getting their water from what appeared to be a water main out in the streets of Baghdad.  Meanwhile, instead of helping these innocent and wrongly targeted people, we built a $592 million dollar embassy in the same city. Let that be the shame of both this administration and government.  In fact, dare I say hand it over to the Iraqi people as a crisis center?  After all, they do deserve it.


As people continue to get hammered by presidential candidates to contribute to their various campaigns and seeing that the will of the people has not been fulfilled to end this war, I would love for the mainstream media like CNN to continue to bring us these stories.  This way, instead of contributing to these candidates, we the American people as a form of reparation can donate to help the most innocent of us all.  What Washington, D.C. and these politicians and presidential candidates refuse to do, we can do it.


Let us do it for the many Youssifs’ and Alis’ in Iraq.  As stated previously, I will continue to help bring to my reader’s attention any story of a child of war that is in need. In the meantime, I want to wish Youssif God’s speed.

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I am a writer who currently writes pieces for my own blog I have been published by, and I was a guest on the Jay Diamond Radio Show on WRKO in Boston and have (more...)
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