Thursday, January 8, 2009


I can’t . . . won’t . . . judge the combatants in the Israeli Palestinian battle in Gaza. There are plenty who have strong opinions; plenty who think one side—either one--is justified, but not the other. Plenty have voiced their thoughts . . . some in words that are as piercing as the weapons soaring across the border.

Words are weapons, too. Incendiary as bombs, they injure; they imprison others in hate. They strike without warning. “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Not physically, maybe, but they do hurt. Eventually it becomes physical.

Thoughts. Words. War. How many degrees of separation?

I do have opinions, but what good are they? What do I know, really? This issue goes back so far that my fifty plus years of sheltered living in the United States are not nearly enough for me to grasp the hate, the rivalry, the fight to the death mentality that is part of the middle east, and has been for centuries.

I’m naïve enough to wonder why everybody can’t just get along, why they can’t share, but realistic enough to accept that they just can’t . . . or won’t. It’s pride, it’s territoriality, it’s, sadly, human nature. At it’s worst anyway.

We suffer for the innocent. Citizen casualties. Collateral damage. Children. This goes without saying. But look into the faces of the warriors. The ones who systematically send weapons from one side—either one--to the other. They’re just people, someone’s son or daughter. Someone who once said, “When I grow up, I want to. . ."

What? Kill my neighbors?

Who ever really wants this?

So why does it continue?

Life's too beautiful. Life's too short.

What's war supposed to do . . . for anyone?

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?~Mahatma Gandhi


Gary said...

I cannot hear the name of Gandhi without thinking of that pivotal moment in the film of his life where he says something akin to "You cannot kill us all." The philosophical ideal is that the oppressors will sicken of killing before the oppressed will give up their quest. I am not so sure. The oddity is that some places have been able to sustain oppression for generations while others (particularly in the case discussed here, the Palestinians) have struggled for generations.


Bob Sanchez said...

Humankind is hardwired for conflict. We are not perfectible, just imperfectly controllable. Perhaps one day we will become extinct because of our own doing; I am not that pessimistic, but mutual immolation is well within our power. Complete peace is not, but we can and must try to manage our baser natures.

sc morgan said...

My father's idea is to wall off Palestine and Israel and sell both sides as many weapons as they can buy. When they can't afford anymore, give them weapons until one side or the other declares they have lost and be done with it.

The conflict has certainly been going on longer than you or I. Longer than history as we know it, and I, frankly, am tired of it.

Wanda said...

I have thought these thoughts too ~~but didn't know how to put it into words.... Thanks Ruth...You did it so well.

You last paragraph says it all.


Pam said...

From time immemorial, the cost of violence has always been too high, but we never learn from our experience, just keep repeating them, and that in itself is stupidity.It doesn't become us as a species, we are more than that.The sad part is that those who objected to war in the past were often given feathers as a token of cowardice and kudos has alway been given to those who defend their family and country as brave. Those who have seriously asked themselves the questions you have, and taken a stand against participation are never seen as brave or strong. That is what needs to change.I sincerely honour all the young people who have lost their lives in war, but they should never have been sent, or put in a position where they felt it was their duty. It is a tragedy of the highest order.Thank you Ruth for such a thoughtful post.