War! What is it Good For?

I don’t mean to be morose, this blog is supposed to be about inspiration and joy after all. However, I believe it is impossible to try and teaching peace without helping people to understand exactly why its so important. Take the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for instance; it seems to me that everyone has an opinion on this issue and it’s political ramifications, who’s wrong and right, it’s economic impact… but what about the people? I admit, even I am guilty of thinking about tragedies such as this one (wars especially) in abstractions and political justifications. However, this way of thinking is deadly. This way of thinking is the way that allows war to continue without protest and encourages countries to struggle for power when we could all simply be sharing in happiness and prosperity.

I cannot say much myself about the recent escalation of violence in the Gaza strip because, admittedly I do not know much. However I do know that this war, like all wars, has gone on too long. These Guardian articles are a few years old but, with this conflict (and others) coming so clearly into media focus, I feel they are so important to read. Rachel’s words cut through the tactics, business, and politics that fuel this war and speak directly to peace and the frustration that will be felt forever until conflicts such as this one can be solved with words, not tanks. Rachel herself stands as an example for us all; she had no obligation to get involved and yet, she left a comfortable life in America to live, and ultimately die, in an attempt to make progress for peace. Below are some quotes cut from the emails Rachel wrote home while she lived in Palestine, but please, read the whole compilation of emails, not just my excerpts… I promise they will change your way of thinking:

Honestly, a lot of the time the sheer kindness of the people here, coupled with the overwhelming evidence of the willful destruction of their lives, makes it seem unreal to me. I really can’t believe that something like this can happen in the world without a bigger outcry about it. It really hurts me, again, like it has hurt me in the past, to witness how awful we can allow the world to be.

The assassinations, rocket attacks and shooting of children are atrocities – but in focusing on them I’m terrified of missing their context. The vast majority of people here – even if they had the economic means to escape, even if they actually wanted to give up resisting on their land and just leave […] can’t leave. Because they can’t even get into Israel to apply for visas, and because their destination countries won’t let them in (both our country and Arab countries).

I’m witnessing this chronic, insidious genocide and I’m really scared, and questioning my fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature. This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don’t think it’s an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop. Disbelief and horror is what I feel. Disappointment. I am disappointed that this is the base reality of our world and that we, in fact, participate in it.

[Concerning a family she visited] The two front rooms of their house are unusable because gunshots have been fired through the walls, so the whole family – three kids and two parents – sleep in the parent’s bedroom. I sleep on the floor next to the youngest daughter, Iman, and we all shared blankets.

You can always hear the tanks and bulldozers passing by, but all of these people are genuinely cheerful with each other, and with me.

I also recommend giving this post at feministe a look – it contains some good writing, and a clip from the Daily Show that really shows some of the just awful politics that are going on to justify this tragedyJon Stewart and his staff are very brave for addressing this touchy issue, even though it may have made the audience a little bit uncomfortable… I respect Jon for pushing the boundaries of his show and not being afraid to make unpopular points.

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Lets vow today to stop, just stop letting this world be so awful. Start by bringing peace to the “wars” in your own life, forgiving and reaching compromise with those you have  wronged or been wronged by. Then, take action – do everything you can to open your own eyes, and the eyes of those around you, to the fact that war is about people not troops, not casualties, not numbers but living,  breathing people who are kind and good and deserving of life. If we can change our own thinking and help those around us change theirs, then together we can change the world. Its time to let senseless hatred and animosity die so that everyone, everywhere, can have a chance to live.

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