Monday, August 6

By any which way

"Pundita, I don't know why I decided to answer your call to pray for a quick resolution to Iraq's water problems. Anyhow, I decided to limit my prayer to the first item on your prayer list. So I prayed "with all my might" for "cloud cover, rain, and cooler temperatures" in Baghdad.

If you live in the District you know the heat has been blistering here for several days. An hour after praying I went outside and saw that heavy cloud cover had rolled in, the temperature had dropped markedly, and I smelled rain. Sunday's forecast had not called for rain, only the possibility of a thunder shower. This morning when I awoke I saw there had been heavy rain during the night.

I started laughing. It's going to be blistering again today but guess it doesn't cost me anything, so I'll keep praying for cooler temperatures in Baghdad.
Al in Washington, DC"

"Pundita, dear, re your Sunday post calling for prayer. Is this what American foreign policy has come down to? Are things in such disarray that all we can do is pray? Or are you suggesting that we incorporate prayer as a policy initiative?
Boris in Jackson Heights"

Dear Boris:
Well, we are doing foreign policy in a time of war and you have to be a damn fool not to pray during war. Prayer wasn't the only action I recommended. But right now we desperately need to extract ourselves from the vise of negative feelings. Prayer is an immediate help in that regard.

Even the staunchest supporters of the US effort in Iraq have become very negative in their thinking. They're angry at fellow Americans who call for immediate withdrawal. They're angry with Maliki's government for not doing more to heal the sectarian divide. They're angry about US mistakes in Iraq. They're angry with al Qaeda and Iran. They're angry at Iraqis for not doing more to help themselves. They're angry at the Europeans and the United Nations for not doing more.

Yet anger is anger. Anger, recrimination, frustration -- no matter whether it's for a just and reasonable cause, those emotions engender very negative feelings, which puts thinking in a box and cuts down on reaction time.

Right now, we are laboring under a mountain of negativity. So we need to go deep in ourselves and reestablish positive feelings. This doesn't mean blinding ourselves. It means finding ways to muster positive feelings.

Wishing the Iraqis well and praying for help with their electrical and water situation may or may not get immediate intended results; things have to play themselves out. But our actions fall back on us in some way or another. An inevitable byproduct of sincerely wishing others well is that we feel better.

By any which way, Boris, do we get through a long march.

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