Today would have been one of those days I called my father. Whenever I felt insecure about the world, I called him. The night of “shock and awe” in Iraq, I called Papa. On Sept. 11, as soon as I got home from work, I called my dad and we talked until I stopped crying. He told me, “It’s going to be OK.”
How reassuring it felt to hear him say that.
I lost my father two years ago October, but I have not lost his belief that, as John Lennon said, “Everything will be OK in the end. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end.”
When I woke this morning to the news that we had killed Iran’s top general, I felt my body stiffen. I held my breath. I did what I always do when something distressing happens — I research. I learned all I could about this terrible man who led the Iranian Quds force, Qassem Soleimani. The more I learned about the hundreds of Americans he killed, the more I knew I would not question whether or not he deserved his violent end.
But something in me asked, did we just kill the Archduke Franz Ferdinand? The killing of Ferdinand was the death that sparked World War I. Certainly tensions were building before the archduke was killed, but that was the tipping point. Did our taking out Soleimani just spark something terrible?
We cannot know as I write this.
We can only pray not.
And when I pray, I pray not only for my family, for our safety and wellbeing. I pray not only for all Americans, especially those in uniform, here and around the world. I pray not only for our allies, in Israel in particular where I know they are nervous tonight, but I pray for the people of Iran.
Because I know there are mothers in Iran, just like me, who are nervous. Maybe there are mothers in Iran who have lost their fathers, and so have no one to tell them, “It’s going to be OK.” These mothers are worried about their sons, their daughters, their neighbors, their country. They are worried about the extremists in their country and the path that feels inevitable. They worry about the things they have no control over, as we do, sometimes. I bet it’s hard to be an Iranian.
With them, and the mothers and families all over the world, in my heart tonight I say: Nothing is inevitable but we make it so. War is never inevitable. This is not to say that Hitler didn’t need to be met with anything but military might in order to stop his slaughter of millions, but in my limited understanding, we don’t have a Hitler here. The president of Iran is certainly no Hitler and while the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is frightening in many respects, he doesn’t reach that level either.
So where does that leave us? In a place where we listen to our leaders and expect a great deal from them in the coming days. We will need our elected officials to summon courage, conviction, compassion and control over their tempers and egos. We will need them to pursue back channels of diplomacy in ways you and I will never learn of to try to prevent war. We depend on their expertise and their brilliance in the days ahead. We’re counting on them.
As we must count on each other. Imagine if our hearts turned to love and support of our fellow man all around the globe right now, today. Imagine if we sought to understand our brothers and sisters in the Middle East better, their hearts, their struggles, their families. Imagine if we listened more than we spoke. Imagine if every American understood the difference between a Shia and a Sunni Muslim and how important that is to Iraqis and the Muslim world, how important it is that the general we just killed with a drone strike was Shia. Do you think Saudi Arabia is supportive of Soleimani’s killing because they are our ally or because they are Sunni?
Tribalism divides us everywhere, Shia, Sunni, Republican, Democrat, black, white. Tonight I refuse to define myself by any tribe other than the universal one of mothers — Shia and Sunni mothers, Republican and Democrat mothers, black and white mothers are all like me. We all want peace for our children. We all want them to have a chance to grow up and experience joy. We don’t want them to spend their precious days in fear and hatred, but in love and service.
So if it’s not OK yet, I’m not worried. That just means it’s not over, because in the end it will be OK. And along the way we owe the world our best, our kindest, our most generous hearts.
Amanda Dickson co-hosts Utah’s No. 1 rated morning show, Utah’s Morning News on KSL NewsRadio.