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Peaceful dialogue sought with people of Iraq

Last Friday evening, Sep. 21, a few hundred people in New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts placed candles in their windows, hoping to convey a message to the people of Iraq. This coming Friday (Friday is the Muslim day of rest) candles will shine out once again. The message is simple: "Understand that we do not want to be your enemy. Instead of a Holy War can we, as neighbors, build a just and honorable peace?"

Large scale warfare in the Middle East, as serious and costly as it would be, seems more likely with each news broadcast. The standoff has turned to deadlock and the momentum of war offers little room for dialogue over propaganda. How is it that in less than two months the United States has become some sort of age-old enemy? Is it possible that Iraq's nightly TV news images of US tanks, guns and armor reinforce their perception of us as the grand enemy? Maybe they have watched so many Dallas reruns that they see us as if we were all J. R. Ewings.

So many people in the United States and throughout the world are affected by this crisis. Over 100,000 Americans now have sons and daughters, mothers and fathers out there on the desert and sea. There are 5000 Western hostages, close to 300,000 refugees. If the candles shine from the towns and cities in America, perhaps people in Europe and Japan, India and Malaysia, will join us in lighting a candle on Friday evening. Perhaps the image of quiet candlelight message from families across the globe will lend honor to dialogue and peaceful resolution. Maybe Iraqi families, having suffered 10 years of great war, will also place candles in their windows, for peace.

People ask how we can get the message through to Iraq. It is not an isolated country. Turkish and Saudi television must partially overlap Iraq. The BBC and Voice of America could also carry the message over short-wave radio. And even if the message could not get through to Iraq, it is important that the people of other Arab states see that the world has matured some since the time of the Crusades.

Would this undermine the president's policy? In President George Bush's videotaped message to Iraq, he said, "As Americans, we're slow to raise our hand in anger and eager to explore every peaceful means of settling our disputes." Maybe our message, people to people, will reinforce that sentiment; we have certainly already made it clear that we will fight if we have to. Indeed, the president and Barbara Bush may want to join their neighbors and shine a light from a window of the White House.

In the past year we have witnessed great change in the world; individuals have fought to overcome tyranny. Perhaps we can learn from this and rally together as a world community to slow the momentum of crisis by opening dialogue. Please join me and my family in sending our quiet message this Friday evening.

Donna Baranski-Walker '81->