The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
Dear List Members, I like to share with you a poem by Erich Fried, translated from German. (My apologies if it seems OT.) Fried's life shows that the spirit of resistance to injustice can survive in the most Kafkaesque of times, even with only a few strugglers. And perhaps the poem will convey a glimmer of hope to those who feel the same way - especially to Tony. It's also meant as an encouragement to people who want to struggle on but feel 'what's the point?', 'what can I possibly do?'. It isn't easy. I myself have felt disheartened. It's not so much people's apathy, but the self-delusion and the denials of the hopers-for-the-best: any time now things will improve, they insist ostrich fashion. 'Reconstruction' and democracy' are the magic words. But when I ask how the majority of Iraqis will benefit from these miracles (impoverished, unemployed, and bereft of social benefits as they are), these optimists visibly squirm. 'We can only hope for the best', they mumble uncomfortably - and change the subject. The poem lists some of the reasons we use to rationalize our passivity - our silence. And at the end it suggests that by doing nothing we condemn ourselves to spiritual death and oblivion. At least that's my interpretation. --- So here is 'Reasons' [for giving up] - as an inspiration to struggling on: REASONS by Erich Fried "Because nothing will make a difference they are going to go ahead, regardless "Because I have no intention of burning my fingers again "Because people will only laugh: so you think you have the answers? "And why always me? No one will thank me "Because this is getting too complex I would only make things worse "Because even catastrophes may bring about some good "Because it all depends on one's view and besides, whom can you believe? "Because they are just like us, if you really think about it "Because I'd much rather leave it to the experts "Because you never know what harm one might do to oneself "Because it's a sheer waste of time no one's worth all that trouble" These are causes of death to be inscribed on our gravestones which won't be put up if these are the causes. ### [Original title: 'Gruende'] --- For Fried these were not mere words - it was his life. His loyalty was with humanity, above all else. He spoke out against injustice wherever he found it, and his solidarity was always with the victims. Often this meant travelling the thorny road against mainstream society - and opinion. The Christian Democrats (CDU) in Germany once tried to get Fried's poems banned in schools - too controversial. One CDU man even said that he would like to see stuff like that burnt! So Fried must have done a lot of things right. Erich Fried was born in Vienna in 1921. He died of cancer in 1988 and is buried in London at the Kensal Green (?) cemetery. He was 17 when Hitler invaded Austria in 1938. The invasion, he said, turned him from "an Austrian high school student into a persecuted Jew." He formed a resistance group. Then his parents are arrested and his father dies while being interrogated by the Gestapo. Fried flees with his mother to London. From there he helps others escape. 1943 his grandmother is killed in Auschwitz. Some of the many things Fried spoke out against publicly was the Vietnam war, human rights in West Germany, Israel's policies during the Six-Day war and its invasion of Lebanon. In a book of poems he published in 1967 was the hotly criticized poem "Listen, Israel!" (Hoere, Israel!). The first stanza reads: "When you were persecuted I was one of you. How can I remain so when you become persecutors?" Fried wrote the libretto to the opera 'Arden muss sterben' (Arden must die), based on the Elizabethan play Arden of Feversham. It premiered at the Hamburg Staatsoper in 1967. The opera centres on the abdication of moral involvement. This was relevant in Germany in 1967, as the audience recognized. At the end of the first performance, there was apparently a tremendous applause (30 curtains). There was also some booing from people who felt that this was hitting too close to home, politically. The abdication of moral involvement is also relevant today - more than ever. But how many people would recognize that? For 13 years the world watched impassively as the people of Iraq were killed, slowly but surely, by the sanctions regime. The world watched and participated when Iraq was bombed to smithereens in 1991. The world watched and profited as the Iraqi economy was destroyed to zero, and people were driven into despair and hopelessness. Then in 2003 the world watched impassively the invasion - dubbed 'liberation'. And now the world is anxiously waiting for 'reconstruction' to start, ostensibly to benefit the Iraqi people, but if truth be told to fill western coffers. And all that suffering inflicted on the Iraqi people simply didn't happen, going by western accounts. It was all "mismanagement" by the former government. The most indecent lies are being dished up, and are gobbled up like chocolate pudding by a grateful public. And western shirt-fronts have never looked whiter. If this isn't total abdication of moral involvement, what is? The term 'moral responsibility' has little meaning left. 'Intellectual integrity' has become an oxymoron. And if no one objects, western society will sink steadily deeper into the soulless complacency of a 'Brave New World'. And Iraq, as most people realize, was only the beginning - a test bed, so to speak. But the suffering that may lie ahead may be hard to contemplate. Erich Fried's life was about involvement in the struggle against injustice - and about moral responsibility. To match his personality, courage, and commitment seems impossible. But if we have the will, we can at least try to speak out, stand up, and be counted. Sorry, all I really wanted was to post that poem. Now I have said much more than intended. I like thank members of the CASI discussion list for the moral support I found here. I will always grateful for that. Best wishes, Elga Sutter P.S. In charting your course, head for that other planet! _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk