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To Houston: A Message of Love From Iraq

Preemptive love is not a one-way street. It is not from “us” to “them.” It is not from “here” to “there.” Because there is no “us” and “them.” There is no “here” or “there.”

We belong to each other.

Hurricane Harvey Hits Houston: We're Responding

 Families are evacuated from flooded neighborhoods in Houston caused by Hurricane Harvey. Photo via Texas National Guard. CC BY-ND 2.0.

Hurricane Harvey barrelled through Texas over the weekend and camped out over the Houston area, causing massive devastation. Tens of thousands are fleeing. Thousands more are trapped, their homes and cars underwater. The violence of this storm is unmaking lives, as sure as bullets and bombs do so in places like Iraq and Syria.

Peacemaker Friday: This Young Iraqi Refugee is Turning Pain into Peacemaking

Ahmed Badr, founder of Narratio. Image via Narratio.org.

Most tragedies never fully disappear. They share your breath, your blood, and walk around the ridges of your ribcage when they can’t fall asleep.

Ahmed Badr was 8 years old when a bomb crashed through a window of his family’s home in Baghdad. It was a dud missile, meant to cause destruction, but not explode. It shattered a piece of his home, but it also shattered his entire life—forcing his family to leave their home, family, jobs, and everything they’d ever known.

Help Dig A Well of Life-Giving Water in Mosul

Imagine your child saying ‘I’m thirsty,’ and having nothing to give them.

That’s the situation of many families in Mosul today. But it doesn’t have to be. You can provide a source of clean water for an entire neighborhood in as little as three days.

Overwhelmed by the Issues? Focus on People Before Problems

This story from PBS NewsHour is worth your time. Please take a few minutes to watch it starting at the 10-minute mark.

News coverage of the crisis in Iraq and Syria has been rare since the battle for Mosul officially ended. And when camera crews pack up and journalists move on to the next story, the world’s attention goes with them. It makes sense. Perception is reality, as they say, and it can seem like things must be ‘better’ in Iraq now that Mosul is free.

The Day Racism Broke In On Me...

Eight years ago, we adopted a beautiful baby boy from Ethiopia. People often ask to hear our adoption story. And I always wonder… do you want my son’s birth story? Or do you want our now-story?

Home Repairs and Hydroponics: Your Love in Syria

For over six years now, children and families have been caught in the crossfire of the deadly Syrian conflict. Some are fleeing violence and are on the move inside the country. Others are returning home to repair and rebuild. None are living the peaceful, stable life they long for.

You have not stopped hearing their stories and seeing their faces, even as the world has largely turned its attention away from Syria in recent months. You are meeting people’s needs for food, shelter, and medicine in a variety of ways.

Here are some highlights from your investment in Syria over the last month:

Peacemaker Friday: They Met Hate with Love in Charlottesville. Now It's Our Turn.

Religious leaders peacefully protest a group of white supremacists in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017. Photo by Karla Cote / CC BY-ND 2.0

We need more peacemakers. And that doesn’t mean someone else… that means you. It means me. It means us.

We need you to show up at the frontlines to wage peace where others wage war. And we need you to do it now.

Racism: I’m Not Moving On

The author, Kym Young (center), is the founder of Superior African American Heritage Community in Superior, Wisconsin.

When I was 13, six other track and field teammates and I were walking back from the high school track field when we were stopped by a black van, full of older white teen boys who jumped out waving machetes and calling us “n*ggers” and “b*tches” and threatening to kill us. We were terrified. 

When I feel defensive, I’m not listening well.

One of the things that has surprised me most in the wake of Charlottesville is how difficult it is to listen well.

I’ve been trying to practice intentional listening for the last 10 years, and I fail at it. But what I know is this: whenever I feel defensive, I’m not listening well.

Now What? How to Love Your Friends of Color Well

Charlottesville solidarity vigil in Minnesota. Photo by Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

Inevitably news of the racist acts of terrorism will fade in the next couple days. People who had the Monday morning exchange with their co-workers, “Did you see what happened in Charlottesville?” will go back to business as usual. I’ve seen this happen one too many times as horror and tragedy is perpetrated in our country and in our world.

But this is not your only option. And I’m begging you to please do something different this time.

What 'Love Anyway' Does and Does Not Mean After Charlottesville

Unite the Right Protesters in Charlottesville, VA. Photo by Rodney Dunning / CC BY-ND-NC 2.0

What does it look like to love anyway when people are marching through Charlottesville with Nazi flags? And should we even love anyway? This idea is more comfortably applied at a distance and much easier to apply to other people.

But it applies all the time. To everyone. That’s the radical thing about it.

Listening in the Wake of Charlottesville

Crowds of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, VA on Saturday. Photo by Michael Sessum / CC BY-NC 2.0

In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, our country feels broken.

But it wasn’t this weekend that broke us. We were born broken. This weekend was just the latest proof of how broken we are. The last several years have been a revelation for many white Americans that bigotry is alive and well in the U.S. Before that, many of us lived in privileged bliss, untouched by racism built into the fabric of our society, unwilling to hear the stories of people of color who experience it daily.

Racist Protests in Charlottesville May Come as a Shock. But They Shouldn't.

Photo by Matthew Tennant on Twitter

Hate is loud today.

Hundreds of white supremacists marched on a university campus in Virginia last night, protesting plans to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. They were chanting things like “Blood and soil” (a racist phrase with Nazi roots), “You will not replace us,” and the openly anti-semitic variant, “Jews will not replace us.”

Changing Lives in Iraq with Food, Water, and Medicine

Last month’s declaration of military victory in Mosul was a major milestone. But after nine months of warfare, thousands are dead. Much of the city is in ruins. And ISIS remains a threat in Mosul.

You’ve continued to show up with love and support for weary families who were trapped until the end. You did this and much, much more in cities across Iraq, as families recover, repair, and rebuild.

Here are some of the highlights from the last month:

Peacemaker Friday: Police Chief Turns Angry Parking Lot Dispute into Peacemaking Opportunity

It was one of those small situations that escalated quickly.

At a Walmart in North Dakota, three women got into an angry exchange of words that went from verbal abuse to threats of genocide in a matter of minutes. Over parking.

Mosul: why would I return?

“Living and working in Mosul is no longer possible. Why would I return?”

Jassem al-Mosuli has warm memories of his home in Mosul. But he is afraid to go back.

A Christian Walks into a Mosque...

Muslim Association of Puget Sound. Photo by Dennis Bratland / CC BY-SA 4.0

“Are you apprehensive about anything?”

“I’m afraid that they are going to be afraid of me.”

Anne and I are standing outside a mosque in the suburbs of Seattle. It’s noon on a Friday, and we are here for Jummah Prayers, the Islamic equivalent of a Sunday church service. This is Anne’s first visit to a mosque, and her scarf keeps slipping off her head as I give her a little bit of information about what to expect during the service.

The Gateway to Extremism

It happens in Iraq, in the U.S., and everywhere in between. It happens to people of every color, religion, ethnicity, and background.

We marginalize those we do not understand, those who are different from us, those who disagree with us or don’t conform to the dominant culture. This act of marginalizing and excluding someone can actually push them past the margins and into the extremes.

Think the Mosque Bombing in Minnesota Has Nothing to Do with You? Think Again...

A bomb was thrown through this window at the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Minneapolis early Saturday morning. Image via the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center's Go Fund Me page.

A Minnesota mosque was attacked on Saturday morning when someone threw a makeshift bomb through a window. More than a dozen people were inside at the time, getting ready for morning prayers. Thankfully, no one was injured in the blast.

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