breaking the silence

Thursday 8 January 2009

You only need to look at the size of the words “peace” and “Palestine” in the tags section on the right side of my weblog to realize that these two topics are very important to me.  However, you’ll also recognize that since Israeli bombing attacks on Gaza began on the morning of 27 December, and even when the ground attacks of Gaza began on 3 January, I haven’t written about the issue.  It’s not that I don’t care, as I surely do, but when there are no easy answers or quick sound bites to capture my feelings of support or disgust, it’s hard to really know what to write or share, what stories to underline and which to gloss over.

When there is nothing but gray, no good side to get behind, what do you do?  I am always on the side of peace, nonaggression, and nonviolence, and from the looks of it, neither Hamas (currently in charge of the Gazan Palestinians) nor the Israeli government are a good fit for someone like myself to get behind and support.  Even the UN is lacking in this conflict.  So what do you do?  Do you say nothing?  That’s what I’ve resigned to do so far, and it’s allowed me time to think things over a bit and decide what I want and need to say.

When you get down to it, it’s a bit of a “which came first” scenario, in my mind, and a recognition that violence comes in many forms.  However, the “which came first” scenario is a way in which people seek to place blame, and really, there is plenty of blame to go around.  I’ve heard, in various ways, “Can you blame the Israelis for fighting back when a group is launching rockets into its communities?”  I guess I can understand their reasoning, but can’t I still “blame” them?  In either case, it’s not something I believe in.

And, unfortunately, I think that the questions Israel (and it’s supporters) are asking overshadow some of the other questions that need to be thought about, too:
“If your country/area were blockaded, walled and fenced in like a jail, unable to receive necessary supplies of food and medicine, wouldn’t you seek some kind of way to gain attention to change that?” (A question from the Hamas point of view)
“If you saw another country being oppressed in the ways of the previous question, would you look the other way and do nothing, and (in some cases) maybe even continue to support the oppressor(s)?  Or would you take substantial steps to deal with the oppressor, maybe by either setting up sanctions or withdrawing the support that allows for such oppression in the first place?”  (Questions the U.S. and other countries, and their citizens, need to be asking)

It’s hard to be in a position where you can’t really support a tangible entity in a situation, which is kind of what I feel in this current Gaza/Israel conflict.  There are certainly those now calling for a cease fire, which is great in the short term, but we need much more than that.  How does one really support peace and reconciliation when no one involved (at least the large entities that seem to hold the power to truly make a difference) appears to truly want it themselves?  I guess that’s the question I, and many like myself, continue to ask ourselves.

Advertisements

support

Wednesday 21 May 2008

After being linked by a few other blogs in the recent days and seeing my numbers just a bit, I figured I should maybe write a new post, since I haven’t written one (at least for my blog — the reason here) in a while and have done only a few in May. Before I get on, though, I’ll point you to one of the blogs that pointed to me (and maybe how you got here).

When I started discerning doing the work I committed my time in April and May to, I was a bit worried. I was worried about my safety, some, but probably my biggest worry was how my parents would react and whether or not they would accept and support what I was thinking of doing. (Mind you, this was way before I had a concrete date in mind and things were much more abstract — think November 2007.) Shortly after Thanksgiving, I visited the church in Chicago where I still hold my membership and discussed with my pastor (and friend) my concerns about the future but also the call that seemed to be getting stronger to really take another step in working toward peace and justice. I shared my concerns about possible estrangement if I felt a call but my parents wouldn’t support me for whatever reason, but also that I knew if I was feeling a call, I should be following that, right?

A few weeks went by and I returned to my parents’ house knowing I had to have the discussion of where I was at and what I might expect in terms of support from them. It was an emotional and tearful conversation as I shared how I was still discerning at this point in time but that I was truly concerned for my parents’ feelings, too, and was worried about fracturing our relationship and the possibility of having to choose between doing something I felt called to do and the relationships I held so dear. In the end, my parents affirmed that, though it might not be the easiest thing for them (and I might mention for me either) to accept, I should prayerfully continue to discern my call.

I think it was during that conversation that I told my mom that I knew, if worst came to worst, she’d share my story in a way similar to Cindy Sheehan, but I’d of course pray that wouldn’t be the case. I shouldn’t be surprised that even before I returned home, my parents were already sharing my story in a way that makes me more proud than I know how to express in words. I think they would say it’s an honor to have me as a son, but I certainly feel it’s an honor to have them as parents and am reminded even more so when I read words like those found in the blog mentioned above:
“Pastor Dana Bjorlin serves as a chaplain at St. Vincent and St. Anne hospitals in Toledo, and I have come to know him as a generally steady fellow. When he came to the microphone to share his son Eric’s experiences as a peace worker in the Middle East, he was overcome with emotion. When his wife, Peg, whom I’ve come to know as a generally cheery lady, observed a Circle of Truth exercise in which people role-played various folks in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she was overcome with emotion.”

When I think back on it now, I question whether it was ever really “support” that I doubted or feared would be there. In 26 years I should know better, I suppose, than to question my parents’ love and support for me and my path, wherever it may lead me. I guess sometimes things need to get a little complicated for us to be reminded that there are certain guarantees in life. For me, one of those guarantees is loving and supporting family members, no matter what.

I pray the same for you.