Nothing is more exciting for a journalist than reading upbeat reactions about a story he wrote--and this is exactly what happened to me when I read the reactions about my baseball story http://www.mcclatchydc.com/iraq/story/71740.html ] I loved every single word the readers wrote because they wrote with real feeling. From "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC to a man inMinnesota
who wanted to send a baseball rulebook, the generosity of so many Americans to a small group of young men who just wanted to play baseball has been overwhelming. As a result of these and other contributions, the baseball team is getting new baseballs, bats, gloves, spikes and uniforms. The uniforms show the Iraqi flag on the left breast, the player's number on the right and, across the back, 'Iraq Baseball.' The dozens of contributions will bring this team to life and help it to be a real baseball squad. Take this letter from Justin Horton, Old Greenwich, Conn.: "I just finished reading your story about the Baghdad baseball team. I know there is probably quite a logistical nightmare involved in an American citizen shipping items to Iraq, but I was wondering if you knew of any way that I could send these guys the baseball rulebook they were looking for butcould not find. I'm a recent college graduate so my means are fairly limited, but I would love to be able to send them something, and I could afford to pay for the book and whatever shipping costs would have to be incurred. If you have the time and have the information, it would really mean a lot to me to be able to send them the book."
He wrote this after I mentioned in the story that the assistant coach went to a book fair at Baghda University looking for a baseball rulebook. He didn't find one.
It is always the same among ordinary people, like all the Americans who felt touched by the team's story and reached deep to help players they don't know and will never see play. These kinds of people feel one another's pain, especially when governments stand on the sidelines or, worse, introduce weapons to the field. Governments everywhere have their own measures for relations with one another, and those relations are based only on interests--not to matters of the heart or soul.
The positive feelings of people about the baseball story will have an equally positive effect on the Iraqi baseball team. I talked to the assistant coach, ane he couldn't believe all the donations that were being mailed for them. He promised to work hard with all the team to say a practical THANK YOU to all donors.
I wish governments all over the world, especially our Arab neighbors, would show similar sympathy and generosity of spirit toward the Iraqi people. We don't need them to send us donations. We only want them to accept the truth that we are no longer the old regime, but a new nation, trying to find our way in the world. We don't need their donations of death. Like all the Americans who gave so much to a few young guys learning a new sport, we want our neighbors simply to accept that we Iraqis are trying to learn a new way, a new life.