Iraq: letter from stranded peace campaigner

 I have never experienced being stranded on an isolated island with no sea or air transportation available. But I am experiencing voluntary isolation in an apartment in the busy city of Baghdad. For several days Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) members in Iraq have chosen to remain indoors, with doors double-locked and drapes closed. This action followed the recent abduction from their home of two Italian women and their two Iraqi colleagues. They were part of the humanitarian agency, A Bridge to Baghdad. When one is involuntarily marooned, thoughts must concentrate on how to leave. We, in voluntary isolation, have the choice of opening the door and walking down the street to shop for groceries or riding a taxi to keep appointments as usual. How do we choose what to do? Consulting others has high priority. We ask trusted Iraqi colleagues, neighbours, church leaders, sheikhs and our landlord. We hear from former Iraq CPT members. We pray. We listen to each other. Our choices affect our Iraqi friends. We are grateful that friends phone often and come to visit us when association with foreigners may endanger them. Making choices is hard work. We are not passive recipients of someone else's actions. We are free to evaluate, to weigh alternative plans, to decide next steps, to consider long-term consequences of our choices. Making decisions by consensus takes time. Listening patiently, trying to hear others' ideas and re-thinking our own stated opinions is hard work. May we listen to the Spirit speaking to our hearts and speaking through friends and colleagues as we choose when and how to end our isolation. Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical violence-reduction program with roots in the historic peace churches. Teams of trained peace workers live in areas of lethal conflict around the world. CPT has been present in Iraq since October, 2002.

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