Monday, April 03, 2006

HOW TO GET RICH? GIVE TO THE POOR! ...and Bless the Children of Iraq * What No One will Speak Of

Saw Mort Sahl last night at the Writer's Guild Theater. He was interviewed for 2 hours by my brilliant friend Robert B. Weide, who directs/produces "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (and directed my episode, "The Christ Nail") Bob is the creator/exec producer of so many award-winning documentaries about The Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Kurt Vonnegut, Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl. Sahl was not only the most risk-taking, political comedian of his day, but he is still so sharp and quick-witted, faster with a pun than any current comedian working. He says comics play it too safe these days: they're not dreamers, have no real point of view. Saying Bush is bad" is not complex enough. Everything is too homogenized and they're all scared of losing their corporate gigs, incomes and audiences. Mort is not so liberal as he used to be on some issues. He was a speech writer for JFK, Bobby, Reagan and both Bushes! He also wrote the Garrison Report, the actual Garrison Report -- and he says that both JFK and Bobby were assassinated by government officials who couldn't stand a peacemaker in the White House. Kennedy threatened the military/industrial complex. Sahl is passionately pro-American, but sees the war as a horrific mistake. He is also against illegal immigrants waving the Mexican flag on our streets. He will absolutely not fit into anyone's preconceived box. As an artist, one must always tell the truth, and there is only one truth -- sometimes hidden under the gauze of anesthesia or self-will. Going with "conventional wisdom" IS NEVER WISE! I agree wholeheartedly. All we have is our own truth, no matter who unpopular it is.

If the American people could meet the Iraqi PEOPLE face-to-face, we'd realize we all have the same heart, we are all brothers and sisters, and want the same things: peace, prosperity, clean water & air and a future for our children. The Iraqi people have expressed great affection, even love, for the American civilians, but we are not hearing any of this. Our government is not the same as the American people, and thank God they know that; after all they lived through a dictatorship, so they don't blame the people of America. There is hope if we can see each other clearly -- and not view them as the enemy. But we never hear of the people, the civilians. Our government refers to the enemy in dehumanizing terms: "an infestation of insurgents," but according to the Iraqis, most of these are just "freedom fighters" who are Iraqi civilians fighting back against the American bombings and the invasion. We never hear about the PEOPLE!!

Had an eye-opening experience on Saturday night. I attended a showing of the most amazing film "The Road to Fallujah" at the Malibu home of Earthways founder Andrew Beath. The film maker is Mark Manning — a man of great humility and NO politics. He was an unembedded journalist (and a scuba-diver) who just happened to be in Iraq right before Operation Phantom Fury, our U.S. carpet-bombing of Falluja in 2004. He was there to make a different film, and was suddenly shocked into telling this story first. Now to really understand this, Manning has no political agenda, no liberal bias. He is one of those really good people in the world. His main point is to show how much the actual people, and mainly CHILDREN, are suffering as a result of our bombings — and to show how much the Iraqi people love American PEOPLE. Manning wants to bridge the communication gap between Iraqis and American people: to show that we all have the same heart, we are all humans with the same drives, and love for our children.

He became friends with an Iraqi woman and a wonderful man named Salaam (means 'peace') who helped him bring medicine after the bombings; these refugees have no help from the U.S. at all! Right before the U.S. bombed Fallujah, our military ordered the people to evacuate, but didn't give them any place to go, and no transportation. Many people, holding hands with their children, walked out of town, over the bridge and had to find shelter. There was no shelter. Tiny children became ill with kidney and liver disease from bacteria in the water; they are still using clothing as a strainer to sift the larger particles out of the water. Many are still living in abandoned cars. After the U.S. destroyed these poor people's homes, schools, shops and schools -- it was discovered that over 50,000 families did not make it out of the city in time. The lucky ones walked back across the desert heat to come home, but first they were each given a bar-code, and strip searched. They walked in lines to get back into their town, not knowing it was totally destroyed by U.S. forces. *** One of the networks, CNN I believe, used footage of the people walking in a line, and said it was a "line to vote!" The people were on foot trying to get back in to their devastated city, with no sewage system, no food, no electricity, no running water. In the film footage, children are hiding behind walls, thirsty, dying, living in abandoned vehicles. People were sobbing as they discovered the dead and buried their families in mass graves. There is footage of people crying for their children with shrapnel wounds in their mouths and legs. A mother nursing a newborn, surrounded by her toddlers, sits in the middle of the sandy desert with no shelter, no home to go to. All because of our military strike on Fallujah. Killing an entire city of innocent civilians, to get at a few "insurgents" we believed were hiding in one or two buildings. After seeing this footage, it is obvious who the evil-doers are. It's too bad our "Christian" president isn't a Buddhist; the Buddhist philosophy is always to "cause the least harm." The U.S. has systematically been bombing other villages without the U.S. NEWS OR MAINSTREAM MEDIA reporting a single civilian casualty.

AMERICANS DID THIS, BUT YOU NEVER READ OR HEAR A THING ABOUT CIVILIAN CASUALTIES!!! Instead they keep it white-washed, antiseptic, with terms like "an infestation of insurgents". No one in our mainstream news media ever mentions the civilian lives we destroyed. Is this what a "Christian" president and a "Christian" nation would do?

The people of Iraq need our help, the help of the American people. Somehow we need to get the word out that our U.S. government is killing civilians, carpet bombing whole cities, just to get a few "insurgents" who are really just people fighting back at the U.S. to protect their own homes. On film, women and children were saying these kinds of things, between their wails and sobs: "We only fight back to save our villages; the U.S. calls our freedom fighters "insurgents" or terrorists, but wouldn't you fight back if a man with a gun was standing in front of your house, ordering you to evacuate or threatening to bomb your children?" There is nothing left of Fallujah. And we are not helping the people at all.

Manning's basic message is this: the people of Iraq love the American people; they know what it's like to live under a corrupt leader. They do not blame the people for the sins of George Bush. But the American people are not hearing anything of the truth of what the U.S. military has done to the poor souls, mainly children. This is a holocaust, and we are the guilty ones.

Mark Manning needs to raise just $50,000 to finish his documentary, so it's ready for August, before the Congressional elections. If the American people can see what the Iraqi PEOPLE are going through, we can help heal the wounds of war. Please help send any amount. Here is his website

From his website: "Falluja, an ancient city comparable to the size of Cincinnati, Ohio, has been largely destroyed by the November 2004 military action called Operation Phantom Fury. According to conservative estimates, there were 250,000 civilians living in the city of Falluja who were forced to leave their homes during the fighting, most without being given a place to go. The Pentagon has stated that up to 20% of the civilians of Falluja were left in the city during the fighting, yet there are no accounts of what happened to these people or how many survived. To this date, the majority of the city is in rubble; very little infrastructure has survived, and almost no aid is getting within the city walls.

The American attack on Falluja, and the subsequent costs to the people there, has been a humanitarian, social, moral and ethical disaster; yet the American government and media, and in turn the American public, has largely ignored the plight of the innocent victims.

The Film: The Road to Falluja is a journey from the back roads of the United States to the hard and bloody streets of Falluja, Iraq. It is the journey of one man, an average American, in his quest for the truth. It is a journey from ignorance and apathy to the essence of the human soul.

The Road to Falluja begins in the streets of America. After the attacks of 9/11, the United States was at a crossroads and when there was an opening for introspection, awakening and diplomacy; collectively this nation chose war. For 2 years following 9/11, through interviews with thousands of Americans from all walks of life and every region of the country, a picture emerges of a nation whose citizens are fearful, apathetic, and without any real facts. The film investigates the media complicity in the failure of Americans to be informed and active citizens. It shows that humanitarian and policy disasters like Falluja are a direct result of an uninformed and disengaged American public. It inspires the audience to get more educated and involved, and to understand their personal responsibilities as citizens of this world.

Great Words from Great Writer E.L. Doctorow: "I fault this president (George W. Bush) for not knowing what death is. He does not suffer the death of our twenty-one year olds who wanted to be what they could be. On the eve of D-day in 1944 General Eisenhower prayed to God for the lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was. Even in a justifiable war, a war not of choice but of necessity, a war of survival, the cost was almost more than Eisenhower could bear.

But this president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the WMDs he can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the
carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man. He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country."

“ To learn that not only you suffer, but the other person also suffers, the other group of people also suffers… when you touch the suffering in other people you want to help, and when you want to help, compassion is born in you… you don’t suffer anymore, and you are motivated by the desire to do something, to be something for other people…and that is Peace. ”
~ Thich Nhat Hahn Zen Buddhist monk, nominated by Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize for his tireless work to end the Vietnam War