International Festival sadly set against backdrop of war

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Two days ago, at Paly’s “International Festival” to celebrate cultural diversity around the world, the student body heard many lofty words about understanding other cultures while espousing global cooperation.

It is ironic, then, that fewer than three hours after this festival ended President George W. Bush’s illegitimately-decreed ultimatum expired, and the leading nation on this earth declared war on Iraq. Bombs fell that evening on Baghdad. And in this comical irony, every bomb helped to destroy the very understanding, communication, and cooperation for which the United Nations was created to stand.

If only our nation’s leaders could have been present on this didactic day. They could have attended “Islam for Dummies.” There, they would have seen that much of the fundamental Islamic world will be inflamed at this apparently colonial US action. It would have been clear to them that America’s tainted democracy is not a governmental structure that will necessarily be openly embraced.

Our nation’s rulers could have attended “Peace In Afghanistan,” and learned that a military force–no matter its strength–cannot simply walk into a country, eliminate the “bad guys,” and then expect to leave. Rebuilding a defeated country requires labor, money, and various other invaluable resources.

During the International festival, Bush and his cronies could have watched the presentation of “Medical Volunteers around the World,” where they would have been forced to understand that war’s toll on innocent civilians is not solely a number. Deaths of human beings cannot be described merely as a statistic pertaining to imaginary far-off people. War means real pain and real suffering for very real men, women, and children.

Unfortunately, our nation’s leaders were not present. But thankfully, a different, younger generation was. Looking towards the future, we can hope to make better decisions about the world. Let us brook understanding, communication, and cooperation instead of pursuing war and violence. The
International Festival has taught us what our leaders do not seem to know. For this we are lucky; and for this we must not forget what was spoken on that day.