Thursday, May 10, 2007

Fritillaria & Iraq

It's a good thing gardeners love to post pictures of their plants on blogs. Just the other day, I was trying to identify an unfamiliar plant in my garden. During my search for answers, I popped over to and wouldn't you know it, there were two very beautiful pictures of my mystery plant.

Turns out I have a fritillaria. More specifically, I have fritillaria uva-vulpis. I love their purple, bell-like blossoms with the yellow edge. While reading up on these bulbs, something really jumped out at me. The plants are native to Turkey, Iran and Iraq. That's right...Iraq.

It's difficult to associate anything of beauty with Iraq these days. I work in the news and not a day goes by that some horrific event doesn't play out there. I hate to say it, but a car bomb that kills only one or two people doesn't warrant a mention in the news anymore. If a suicide bomber manages to score a double digit death toll, perhaps there's time to squeeze it in. Violence and bloodshed have become so commonplace that the only time anyone ever takes notice anymore is when coordinated attacks on crowded places like markets kill 80 or 100 or more people at one time. And sadly, that kind of catastrophic loss of human life is increasingly a reality in Iraq. It's a crass truth about tv news that death tolls do count. But the fritillaria has revealed to me a greater truth.

The fritillaria in my garden and the fritillaria growing in Iraq are evidence that all us have something in common. When dealing with death tolls, its easy to forget that the victims of the insanity in Iraq are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters. It's easy to forget that like all of us, they have dreams for themselves and for their babies. It's easy to forget that they work long hours to make ends meet. That they love to sing and dance. That they laugh at a good joke and love a good meal. And that they fall into their beds at night exhausted by all the good and bad that life has to offer. Sounds a hell of a lot like me.

Somewhere in the insanity of Iraq, I bet that someone has stopped to admire a fritillaria and maybe even put a bouquet of its blooms on the dinner table. It's called being human. Searching for beauty where you least expect to find it. And today, its that beauty that moves me to say I stand in solidarity with the innocent victims of a senseless war.

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