|Dr. Ahmed Ibrahim, through an invitation by the Peace Network of the Ozarks on March 28, 2007, spoke at The Library Station in Springfield on "The U.S., the Middle East, and the War on Terror."
Although born in Egypt, Ibrahim is a proud naturalized American citizen. A professor of Middle East Studies at Missouri State University, he demonstrated that is he very knowledgeable in the subject of the Middle East from both the perspective of one who lives in the Middle East and in America. He proved to be an excellent resource of information on its many problems. He demonstrated an extemporaneous speaking style that explained the perspectives well and brought out many questions from an audience.
The meeting open to the public was quite lively with both sides of the War question in attendance, although right-wing citizens seemed to be more concerned about the focus of peacekeepers than the success of the war from their own perspective. If you missed the program, you missed a good one.
This is the kind of meeting that we want to encourage and have more often. We all know there is not much point or headway made by either side of a question by always just singing to our own choir whether we are peace keepers or right-wing citizens. No one can change anyone else's mind unless there is an exchange of ideas. We may not always like what the other side says, but talking is a good thing, the first step toward understanding each other. We always will be courteous and respectful of any guest, and if someone leaves angry after the meeting, then, perhaps, we haven't done our job as well as we could have.
By the same token, if people should attend our open meetings intent only on providing disruption to a meeting, or simply challenging a respected guest speaker, we know how to approach such situations to restore a balance. Instead we trust they come with good intentions to learn from the program just as the rest of us do.
On the light side we learned a few things about the "news culture" of the Middle East, and some of the methods of how the news spreads. The cab drivers know it all, and they share it with everyone.
One of Dr. Ibrahim's last emphatically made comments stuck firmly in my own ear, and that was from the perspective of a Middle Easterner saying, "The Middle East cannot absorb another war (Iran)," and from the perspective of an American.,"nor can the U.S. treasury, the American people, or its military."
The next program open to the public and free is April 10, a presentation by one of our members who traveled to Iran with a peace group a few months ago. "A First Hand View of Iran" will be presented by Mariel Caldwell, who will share her impressions of the land and its people. 7 p.m., The Library Station, Santa Fe Room, 2535 N. Kansas Ave., Springfield.
Acting Chairman, Peace Network of the Ozarks