Essay by U.S. teen who went to Iraq
The Associated Press
Published Thursday, December 29, 2005
Excepts from an essay written recently by Farris
Hassan, 16, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who traveled to
Iraq without telling his parents:
There is a struggle in Iraq between good and evil,
between those striving for freedom and liberty and
those striving for death and destruction. You are
aware of the heinous acts of the terrorists: Women and
children massacred, innocent aid workers decapitated,
indiscriminate murder. You are also aware of the
heroic aspirations of the Iraqi people: liberty,
democracy, security, normality. Those terrorists are
not human but pure evil. For their goals to be
thwarted, decent individuals must answer justice's
call for help ... So I will.
Life is not about money, fame, or power. Life is about
combating the forces of evil in the world, promoting
justice, helping the misfortunate, and improving the
welfare of our fellow man. Progress requires that we
commit ourselves to such goals. We are not here on
Earth to hedonistically pleasure ourselves, but to
serve each other and the creator. What deed is greater
than sacrificing one's luxuries for the benefit of
those less blessed? ...
I know I can't do much. I know I can't stop all the
carnage and save the innocent. But I also know I can't
just sit here ...
I feel guilty living in a big house, driving a nice
car, and going to a great school. I feel guilty
hanging out with friends in a cafe without the fear of
a suicide bomber present. I feel guilty enjoying the
multitude of blessings, which I did nothing to
deserve, while people in Iraq, many of them much
better then me, are in terrible anguish. This
inexorable guilt I feel transforms into a boundless
empathy for the distress of the misfortunate and into
a compassionate love for my fellow man ...
Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a
difference. They bless the one who receives them, and
they bless the one who gives them.
Going to Iraq will broaden my mind. We kids at Pine
Crest (School) live such sheltered lives. I want to
experience during my Christmas the same hardships
ordinary Iraqis experience everyday, so that I may
better empathize with their distress. I also want to
immerse myself in their environment in order to better
comprehend the social and political elements ...
I plan on doing humanitarian work with the Red Cross.
I will give my mind, body, and spirit to helping
Iraqis rebuild their lives. Hopefully I will get the
chance to build houses, distribute food supplies, and
bring a smile or two to some poor children.
I know going to Iraq will be incredibly risky. There
are thousands of people there that desperately want my
head. There are millions of people there that mildly
prefer my demise merely because I am American.
Nevertheless, I will go there to love and help my
neighbor in distress, if that endangers my life, so be
If I know what is needed and what is right, but do not
act on my moral conscience, I would be a hypocrite. I
must do what I say decent individuals should do. I
want to live my days so that my nights are not full of
regrets. Therefore, I must go.