Shahriar Shahriari

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Message of the Month

November, 2001


When the sky is the darkest, the stars sparkle even more brightly.

War is arguably the darkest side of humanity, yet it could inspire us to be the most humane we can be.

Yes, War is dark and ugly. War sets a chain of events into motion that is both destructive and unpredictable. It creates pain and horror beyond imagination - a reality that is much stranger than fiction.

War brings about a backdrop of darkness, a blanket of ugliness that covers humanity. And we, as individuals, have the option to acknowledge war for what it is, or go into denial.

When the blanket of War covers nations, fear and hate and revenge rule the choices and the lives of the people of those nations. The majority of the people buy into the notion of the ugliness and blend into the backdrop of darkness, while defending war as a necessary evil.

Yet there are always the few who transcend the horror and overcome the fear. Who recognize their surroundings for what it is. Who look the ugliness of pain and destruction in the face, dive head-on into the situation, and regardless of the bigger picture, do what they can to heal the smaller picture.

Yes, soldiers and civilians are killed and maimed in war, yet the Red Cross was born in a war. Yes, the World War destroyed millions of individuals and countless property, yet gave birth to the United Nations.

Florence Nightingale was an angel who came to open her wings during the darkness of a War of many years bygone, yet her legacy endures and resonates at times of peace and war. Yes, the more recent terror destroyed numerous lives and brought down skyscrapers, yet the heroic firefighters went up the stairs of those same buildings, while others were coming down.

The trick to facing a war is not to moralize it, else we too become part of the backdrop of darkness. The most constructive and progressive approach is to become small, to look at the small picture, and then contribute what we can, to heal the little wounds, one person at a time, one place at a time.

It is easy to generalize and neatly classify dead sons and brothers, maimed sisters and mothers, and destroyed homes and livelihoods as "collateral damage" and "casualties of war". But it is infinitely more difficult to be the one telling a mother that her son has just become a "casualty of war". And it is simply heroic to forget about the terror and the evil, while climbing stairs of a skyscraper, with only one thought in mind: "Who's life can I save up there?"

It is easy and tempting to look at the blanket of darkness and become a spec of dust, lost in the fabric. But it takes a lot of courage to shine our light and be that small radiant diamond that sparkles against the dark blanket.

Our humanity can display itself more humanely when we face our darkest side, just as the stars shine more brightly when the sky is the darkest

Shahriar Shahriari
Los Angeles, CA
November 2001

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