by Joe Quandt
Dear Sa'ad, Zienab, Yusraa, and Nazar,
I'm sorry I haven't written before this. I did try to post a letter
to you, but it came back. I know you understand about this.
I have been very busy, writing about Iraq and the people there,
speaking about my time in your country. On Thursday I spoke to
students at a college, on Sunday, a Christian group that is against
the sanctions. On Monday, 5 classes in a high school. So you see, I
have not broken my promise to you.
I am trying to write in a simple way, so that you can understand
every word. Perhaps Sa'ad can read this out loud. His English is the
When I speak to people and tell them why we must not bomb your
country, I always tell them that it is because I am selfish-I have
friends in Iraq now, people who shared their food with me, and told
me about their lives, people who asked about America and what the
Americans are thinking, people who care about their children and
children everywhere, people who love their country. So I must work
very hard to tell this story, because I am terribly worried about
these friends of mine in Baghdad.
I'm sure that if Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney had friends there, they
would not be thinking so hard about destroying Iraq. Or maybe they
would use their great wealth to get their friends out of there. I
wish I had that much money.
I wish I had enough money to take all the children in the Al-Monsour
cancer clinic out and bring them with their families to live
somewhere that would be safe for them, a place where they could get
the medicine and food they need.
Even now as I write this, water comes to my eyes.
It is very cold here now and there is snow on the ground. Do you
ever have snow in Baghdad?
We are dreaming of spring, yes?
I believe that hearts are changing in America. Every day I hear more
stories about how the peace movement is getting bigger, and how more
and more Americans are starting to think that there is no good
reason for war with Iraq. Please, you must have faith and hold onto
the hope that we will be in time to stop it. I promise you I am
doing all I can. I know there is nothing you can do, and so we must
do it for you.
Nazar, I'm sorry I did not see you before I left Baghdad. But I
often use your words in my talks and writings. You said, "It's like
Iraq was put in a hole; it's like...we're watching a movie about the
world, and we're not in the movie." Americans can feel your pain
when I say such words to them.
I will end now, so this letter is not too long. But I must tell
Yusraa that her painting is hanging on my wall. If she remembers, it
was the picture of all the doors and windows, and she said that
"when you look thru someone's door and into their house, you see
yourself in that house, and you know that you are all one people
I also believe this. Many Americans do.
Special greetings and a beautiful rose of my imagination for you,
Till we all meet again, Salaam.
[Joe Quandt, a 52-year old actor/teacher/cab
driver/musician/poet/activist, was in Baghdad for the month of October
2002 with the 49th Voices in the Wilderness delegation to Iraq.]