Friday, 23 October 2009

Bombs and Lionel Richie

Life has some odd coincidences... As part of my job, I had cause some weeks ago to visit the facility where the Australian Special Forces train near Sydney. Many of the soldiers who train there are on their 2nd and 3rd tours of Afghanistan and Iraq and are the tip of the sword of the Allies fighting the Taliban. During this past week, I heard on the news that one of them had been tragically killed here in South Australia in a live-fire night training exercise and another seriously injured. It brought home a little more starkly the reality of what is happening, unseen, many thousands of miles away from us.

A couple of days later, I happened to be downloading an old Lionel Richie song , 'Just for you' to my ipod and I wondered what had happened to him so I googled. I discovered an article that had been written by a journalist called John Berman from ABC in the USA, about the fact that apparently Lionel Richie is a huge phenomenon in the Arab world and Iraq specifically:

I have been to Iraq nine times since the American invasion three years ago, for a total of about 10 solid months. (My wife is counting.) During that time, I have seen bombs and blood, I have seen rebuilding and restructuring, and I have seen death and democracy. So what have I heard? That's easy: Lionel Richie.
Grown Iraqi men get misty-eyed by the mere mention of his name. "I love Lionel Richie," they say. Iraqis who do not understand a word of English can sing an entire Lionel Richie song.
This is the same Lionel Richie who wrote "Say You, Say Me." This is the same Lionel Richie who is the father of some young woman named Nicole. Yes, that Lionel Richie. Could he really be an Iraqi icon?
I decided I had to investigate, and not just investigate, I decided I had to ask Lionel Richie himself. So I called him from Baghdad. Actually it was a formal interview. It was the first interview with Lionel Richie ever on the subject of Iraq and Iraqis.
I asked Richie if he knows just how big he is here. He said, "The answer is, I'm huge, huge in the Arab world. The answer as to why is, I don't have the slightest idea."
He has performed in Morocco, Dubai, Qatar and Libya. There is obviously something up there. The more we talked, the more he theorized as to the reasons his music might be so popular here. He thinks it is because of the simple message in his music: Love.

Richie says he was told Iraqis were playing "All Night Long," on the streets the night U.S. tanks rolled into the country in 2003. (

How different are we as people? Actually?
If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility. (H. W. Longfellow)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Back after a little bump in the road

Over the past week and a half to two weeks, we have received our container with all our 'stuff' and even put a deposit down on a plot on which next year we hope to build. All this was exciting and distracting as being busy has a tendency to do. In spite of that, as many people had warned me may happen, I experienced immense moments of isolation here. In a 'normal' job, you tend to have the opportunity to get to know the people you work with and to a greater or lesser extent work within and as part of a team or group of people. When you are on the road as I am, you meet new people every day and though, ostensibly it appears to be a sociable career, you rarely form any deep relationships, as you move on to the next deal. In the context of all that is still quite unfamiliar, the continued superficiality of human contact can make the isolation feel even more apparent; and though I am adjusting better now, I just didn't feel up to blogging I guess - so apologies! I am sustained by my faith, but on a human level it has also made me realise that I could not have made this journey alone - as big a mouth as I may have. S&J - friends of my brother and sister-in-law are getting married this weekend and it got me thinking about how I have so much more deeply begun to appreciate the gift that my wife is to me and the grace that the sacrament of marriage is. Sure we still have moments of real anger and disagreement and conflict. But, in earthly terms, we are home for the other. Knowing our own shortcomings, it is more than anything we could naturally give or be for the other. At our wedding, our love was blessed by and is now sustained by the One who is Love and I am so very grateful for His gift of love and for her.
Once in awhile, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale. (Author Unknown)