By Felicity Arbuthnot – London
"Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right." — Martin Luther King, Jr.
I never met Sarah Meyer, who died on March 4th, aged seventy three, but like so many across the globe, struggling to make sense of and draw attention to the crimes of enormity, committed in the name of a tragi-farcical "war on terror", discovering her exhaustive, meticulous research, especially on Iraq and Afghanistan was finding Wordsworth’s "light to guide; a rod .."
No fact omitted, no stone unturned, in minute detail, her talent was for uncovering truth and reality behind the smoke, mirrors and lies. Thus we corresponded. She would send her latest work of academic impeccability, I my articles, more aptly “letters from a broken heart". Andy Worthington, in tribute writes aptly of: "a wonderfully supportive friend in the struggle for a better world."
In October last year, at a hospital appointment Sarah told the Consultant: "..about the Brussels Tribunal and (their) war crimes case against four Presidents and four Prime Ministers", on which she was still working. He told her she had cancer.
She applied the same skills developed in her years as a researcher, clearly leaning on remarkable inner strengths, developed studying Tibetan Buddhism and Jungian psychology. She utilized expertise as a former registered homeopath, seeking cancer halting, healing, natural foods. Her website has shone its beam on the politics, environmental devastation and power of the mega-pharma industry, where the downside has much to do with profit and little with constructive treatment. She settled on natural foods including berries, garlic, onion, leeks, broccoli, organic soya beans and curry: "long thought to have healing powers" with added "turmeric, having the power to kill off cancer cells."
Her website, which with her years of other resources, donated generously to the "strugglers", details her unflinching, searching, last journey and the careful organizing of her affairs, late in an illness generating only pain, discomfort, and sapping will. Not hers. She arranged for her friend, Clare: "to have my tiny, blind Yorkshire terrier, when the time comes. A positive aspect of knowing one has cancer is the opportunity to clear up house as well as bank arrangements, bills, etc."
She gave books to fellow travellers, spent three days with friends clearing out, deciding on what should go to: "Oxfam, skip or auction." She admits to one tearful ‘phone call, then chastises herself for inflicting distress on her daughter, Heather.
A stark small entry just reads: "Grief. Today I had my Siamese cat put down, she had breast cancer."
Conventional treatment was urged by the medical profession and refused. As William Bowles has written:
"Perhaps her own words sum up her reasons:
‘The language applied to cancer sounds like Obama’s wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. We hear about “battles” – “Fighting the Enemy” and the “War on Cancer.” Constructively discussing the actual process of life and death can often be a no-go zone. Even the word ‘death’ is replaced by the awful term, “passing away.”
‘I am almost 73 now, and I am ready for death. The suffering of peoples on our planet is a burden for me. I have tried for much of my life to be useful, but of course one cannot ‘cure’ this central crux of life itself.’
But her life lives on through her contributions, which is more than many of us can claim."
One example – truth to the lies on Afghanistan is headed "Graveyard of Empires." (October 2008.) She quotes George W. Bush that year at the top:
"After all, you’ve got girls are back (sic) in school; boys flying kites again; health clinics, the economy has more than doubled in size .."
Just one sub-heading which follows, lists detailed, horrifying reality: "Famine, Refugees, Women, Children and Health." She quotes the UN Secretary General: "Children have been killed, maimed, sexually abused, arbitrarily detained, recruited as foot soldiers, used as suicide attackers and deprived of development and education."
That summer she had sent me an email which was balm to the soul. Subject line: "Sarah’s Garden". Opening it up, there was photo after photo, of a haven of sheer wonder, a cacophony of colour, sunlight; glistening, overflowing lushness of every hue, seemingly effortless, effusive. The Almighty’s palette of exquisite beauty. The scents were near tangible.
"Come down, escape, relax, I’ll meet you at the station", she wrote. I had a problem related to an earlier spinal injury and was virtually unable to walk. Finally put back together again by a surgeon who deserves my daily prayer of thanks, a fall generated a set back and the chance to ask if I could invite finally invite myself, was overtaken by Sarah’s illness and loss.
Tomorrow, her life will be celebrated. To her children, Heather, Jonathon and Ernest and to all those close to her, the thoughts of many are with you.
Sarah, may you travel:
"Where there grew pied wind-flowers and violets,
Daisies, those pearled Arcturi of the earth,
The constellated flower that never sets;
Faint oxlips; tender blue-bells, at whose birth,
The earth scarce heaved." (P.B.Shelly, 1792-1822.)
– Visit Sarah’s website: http://www.indexresearch.blogspot.com.
– Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist and activist who has visited the Arab and Muslim world on numerous occasions. She has written and broadcast on Iraq, her coverage of which was nominated for several awards. She was also senior researcher for John Pilger’s award-winning documentary, "Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq". She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.