Genesis 11:5

The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. Genesis 11:5

What Good is a PhD?

I had this feeling about 2011. I had a feeling that 2011 would be a big, monumental year, even before it really started. Maybe it's being 25 now, but it's one of the first years I actually felt that I braced myself to enter. The last few days of December 2010 felt something like standing at the edge of a diving board, looking down at my toes hanging over the edge, and the sparkling chlorinated water below. Honestly, I was nervous about the whole thing. But on New Year's Day my sister Sophia warned me in a gchat that <2011 is going to be a damn good year, whether we like it or not!> Well friends, we're only 3 months in, and the year has been jam packed with memorable events.

It was just February when I rejoiced over the Egyptian revolution, and was inspired by the nonviolent power of a people united. My recent job offer will certainly stand out in my mind, as a memorable feat of 2011. Oh God, the massive earthquake and deadly tsunami in Japan that took place just 9 days ago is unforgettable. Yesterday, 19 March, was my beautiful mother's 60th birthday. This year I went a few extra miles to express my deep thankfulness to my mother, and also spent time reflecting on how significant my mother's 60 years on this earth have been to me. Often I miss my father, and still neglect to remain conscious of how grateful I am that my mother is here to celebrate achievements and mourn losses with me and my siblings. 

And then there is today, 20 March. I'll remember this day more vividly than I do the day the US started bombing Iraq, probably because I feel more connected to Libya than I did to Iraq, probably because I am more educated and opinionated politically than I was then, and because I feel more responsible in light of my age and education for this American crime. The quote from Hotel Rwanda is "[after Paul thanks him for shooting footage of the genocide] I think if people see this footage, they'll say Oh, my God, that's horrible. And then they'll go on eating their dinners." This morning I was eating left-over Saag Lamb Aloo and Vegetable Korma for breakfast, when I learned that the US and the UK bombed Libya, enforcing the no-fly-zone that was imposed a couple of days ago. Yesterday, President Barack Obama gave a speech saying that "the people of Libya must be protected" and today saying that "we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that 'there will be no mercy'." 

I've lost hope, Obama. Even you are sinking to such a level, to consider the lives of innocent Libyan civilians 'collateral damage' in efforts to cash into Libyan oil reserves. We stood idly by during the genocide in Darfur. We're are doing more than standing idly by as Palestinians are being killed systematically by Israelis, as Palestinian land is being stolen day in and day out - We are funding the genocide of Palestinians. So why then, can we not stand idly by as Libyans sort out their politics? Not to mention that many an online forum out there will suggest that the recent speech of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah could be considered tyrannical, as he seriously threatened any who dare oppose the monarchy. Nevertheless, the US keeps quiet in such a case, since close ties to Saudi oil are well within the American self-interest.

David Cameron boldly claimed that UK and US intervention in the case of Libya is "necessary, legal and right," completely ignoring the clear opposition Libyan people have expressed to foreign intervention. Peace activist John Rees of the Stop the War Coalition speaks from London in the following clip about the devastating impact western intervention will have on the Libyan people:

For me, the destruction of Libya is not just a political matter, not just a war in a distant land like the war in Iraq was to me at its inception. No, this war on Libya is deeply personal to me now, as the conflict and Libya and threat of foreign intervention has already plagued the hearts and homes of my dear Libyan friends and acquaintances. I met one of my Libyan friends last weekend in the grocery store, and immediately noticed that her usually cheerful face was stricken with depression. She said that no Libyan students are studying - everyone is worried about their country and their family. She said that the Libyan people may seem strong, but they are quite sensitive when it comes to death and loss; they really cannot bear to hear of all of the death thus far in Libya. Libyan students at home and abroad have lost all motivation for their studies: What good is a PhD to me, if I do not have my country? she cried.

My dear friend who taught me how to pray over a year ago lives in Libya with her husband and two young children. I haven't heard whether she is safe or not. How many are like her, just trying to live peacefully in their homeland? Unfortunately, I do not feel that the US government thinks about the human lives that they are wasting with their bombs. At this point, I'm desperate to learn of ways to express my opposition to the west's intervention in Libya. If you know of any, please comment on this post. It seems that Stop the War Coalition at least provides some informative material useful for raising awareness about this urgent issue. I'll conclude with this slightly disturbing image that I received last year in an forwarded email:

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