I was moved the other day when my daughter posted to FaceBook and commented on the story of the drone strike in Pakistan that killed a grandmother, Mamana Bibi, and injured several of her grandchildren while they were working in the family garden. My daughter wrote: “Imagine a 68 year old woman picking vegetables with her grandchildren… killed by a drone while they watched.” Imagine! I knew she was thinking of her children, their cousins, and me.
I’m an involved grandmother, very close to my grandkids. One thing we love to do is garden together. The children especially love digging potatoes and making them into French Fries. Life is so precious. Family ties are such a blessing. Perhaps Mamana Bibi was thinking the very same thing before she was blown to bits by a U.S. drone.
There is so much that is hard to face in this story. First, how can we accept that human beings are so vulnerable, and that disaster can strike at any time? Here in the United States we don’t have to worry about deadly drone strikes–not yet. But there’s still the risk of random violence, accident, or “natural disaster,” made more likely and more severe by climate change. We can come to terms with this reality by facing our human condition, acknowledging our dependence on God and our interdependence with all parts of creation, drawing deep from the wells of Spirit (revealed in so many ways), facing death, and living for the well-being of all.
Second, how can we face our complicity in systems of evil that leave injury, suffering, death, and environmental devastation in their wake? Our tax dollars bought the drone that killed Mamana Bibi and wounded her grandchildren. Our silence is complicity. It implies a “go ahead” to our lawmakers that allows these policies to continue.
Yesterday Mamana Bibi’s son, Rafiq ur Rahman, and two of his children Nabila and Zubair, who were injured in the drone attack, testified on Capitol Hill during a historic Congressional hearing on U.S. drone strikes. They traveled all the way from Pakistan to give lawmakers a first-hand account of the attack.
Only five members of Congress showed up to listen. Popular Resistance.org, incorporates several accounts of this hearing in its report: “Congress Disgraces United States– Fails to Show for Drone Hearing.” This low turnout is a disgrace, and shows the bankruptcy of our current system of government. What does our lawmakers’ lack of interest and empathy say to the victims of our drone attacks and to rest of the world?
This will change only when “we the people” refuse to be complicit. We can make clear to our lawmakers and to the world that we do have interest, empathy, and concern for the victims. We can demand that our lawmakers take action to stop these illegal attacks. We can engage is sustained actions of nonviolent resistance. One way to resist is to begin speaking out, standing in solidarity with the victims of our policies, sharing their stories, putting ourselves in their place (Imagine!), and making clear that there has to be a better way, a way of peace. Keep sharing these stories.
Thank you, my daughter, for speaking out.
Find Sharon’s previous blog postings on drones here.