Sunday, August 22, 2004

The Skies Light Up Again!

Last night I discovered that, not only do I know nothing about soccer, but I'd be _great_ at cheering on a rugby match. We had a joint house club meeting last night (we've split our group into two because of its occasional size) to send off two sons going to college and a couple who have been volunteering for a few weeks...but also so that we could gather around the projector and watch the Iraq/Australia soccer match on the "wide screen" (i.e., whiteboard) afterwards. As I sat there between two avid soccer aficionados, they'd yell things which were appropriate to a soccer match, and I'd yell things like "hit 'em again!" and "knock 'em down!" and "trip him!" Not to mention the ever-so-helpful "kick it into the goal!!" and "don't kick it to one of the guys that's not on your team!"

But regardless, my cheering obviously helped to bring Iraq's 1-0 victory over Australia, and as a result, the skies lit up again with red tracers as the people (including a few of ours) fired in celebration into the air. I did not participate in the firing of the weapon(s), but if (when?) they win the gold...well...let's just say that my "never having fired a weapon" streak might come to an end after just over 28 years. :)

I don't know if he's still in contention, but keep your eyes open for an Iraqi boxer too (the one I was talking about the other day). Wouldn't it be great to get _two_ medals this year?! If there's one thing that can bring warring factions within a country together, it's sports. I'll bet even Najaf was quiet last night for a few hours.

It does, however show that, even though this is a hodgepodge of people, religions, and ethnicities that was thrown together by a different occupying force many years ago, there remains a strong sense of nationalism and patriotism. I hope that they can learn to channel this spirit which is shown so clearly by a soccer match into the political process and generate statesmen who will lead this country, not just for their faction's own gain, but for the betterment of _all_ the people.

But in any case, "mabrouk kool iraqieen!" (congrats to all Iraqis!)

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