Monday, November 24, 2008

Reason #27 To Fly A Peace Globe ~ Georgia On My Mind


In the cities of Gori Tskhinvali, Georgia - bordered by the Black Sea, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia - all hell has broken loose on earth. Imagine the peaceful picture at left clouded this morning by billowing smoke and people scrambling for protection. It's not a stretch.

On the Russian border today there are conflicting reports about the air strikes that occurred over the breakaway region of South Ossetia, a region embroiled in territorial tensions and issues over sovereignty for years. This potential war is not rocket science. We've heard it before in many parts of the world.

Georgia became part of the Soviet Union in 1922 and regained its independence in 1991 but has endured civil war, ethnic cleansing, clashes in the southern part of the country and struggles for President power and control.
Somebody stop this echo in the universe. I beg you.

Just days ago twenty busloads of people began to evacuate into Russia (who offered assistance) the majority holding Russian passports, leaving South Ossetia -the center of the conflict - which started between Georgian troops and parliamentary soldiers. Both sides say the other started it.

Where have I heard that before?

So refugees ran and troops moved to the border.

Where have I seen that before?

Meanwhile Mikheil Saakashvili, the President of Georgia, called for a ceasefire offering amnesty and calling for peace talks. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has asked that Georgia troops withdraw completely and quit the conflict zone. The fighting worsened.

Where have I heard that before?

In short, now it looks like this: Red x marks Russian and blue arrows show Georgia attacks. Here we sit on the border of war. Again.
And who gets caught in the crossfire?
Always the innocent trying to escape. There are reportedly only two stories left in the bombarded main hospital in the city of Tskhinvali. The wounded and civilians under siege have nowhere to go, no evacuation route has been established and ambulances cannot reach the hospitals. Five villages have been razed to the ground. Moving targets. Apartment buildings destroyed. Thousands trying to escape and now hundreds of bus loads with no channel of escape.

Where have I heard this before?
Is there an echo in here?

Amid all the back and forth between Russian and South Ossetian officials I was astounded by this statement by Russia's President who recalled the early escalation of the conflict.
"The situation reached the point that Georgian peacekeepers have been shooting at Russian peacekeepers."
Read that sentence again.
And since we're focusing on what the world is saying about this insanity today let me sum up the consensus in the words of the Prime Minister of Norway. Wise. Understated. Simple. "This conflict must be handled at the negotiation table, not the battle field.
Where have I heard that before?

All across the world we are all saying the same thing. No one wants war. Or so they say.
But my eyes see something else. And one must wonder how words and negotiations and written treaties can keep up with the speed of barreling tanks and military jets in the sky. Why does the latter make a louder noise than the power of the word? After all, it is the almighty word we are relying on to stop this mess. Isn't it? If not then why do we keep asking people to weigh in with their words? Do we really think someone will spout forth a brilliant new revelation on the way to achieve peace? No. We are all saying the same thing.

At the core all wars look the same to me. "Stop hitting me so that I may speak. Who started it? You started it. I don't trust you."

And the cycle begins again - with louder and bigger bombs to drown out the words.

Semantics of war are not based on hatred; they are grounded and fed by the insecurities of nations locked in mistrust by the evidence of their actions - not their words. Perhaps if we based our reality on the action of non-violence, the echo would change and we would see a worldwide catastrophic outbreak of unstoppable peace.

The international community has called for a ceasefire. Last I checked that means "Just stop."
Doesn't it?

Update: This post was written August 9, 2008 when the conflict began. I just read that on September 25 a 13-year-old was killed in South Ossetia by an explosive device and the madness rages on.

Photos: Creative Commons 2.0, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain, yzhenkova Yulia, correspondent of "Solidarnost"

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