As I typed up the post I thought about some of the children’s rhymes I remember hearing as a kid. Something like “Rich man, poor man, Indian Chief.”
I know it is fragment, maybe a couple of fragments that all sloshed together in that mushy region inside my skull. Onwards with more random thoughts.
Here is a little clue to my identity. I am a member of ZBT. Back in the day my house was known for being quite diverse. There were Jews, Muslims, Christians, Blacks, Whites, Filipinos, Latinos, a virtual UN.
I never paid much attention to color/race/religion. It has never mattered to me, just whether you were a good person. Anyway, for the purpose of this story I’ll offer some more background on the players who joined me for lunch one day.
There were three of us, a Spaniard, a Jew and a Muslim. As it so happened Israel was involved in a tiff with Hezbollah. We entered the restaurant and sat down and ordered our meals.
While we are waiting for our food to be cooked the Spaniard looks at me and says “so did you start this?”
Before I could respond he looked at our Muslim friend and said “Is it your fault?”
The question was in reference to the conflict.
When I look back at the question I realized that I have heard it phrased this way so many times. The battle is phrased as if I was the PM of Israel and making decisions. I am held personally accountable for the actions of Israel. Whether I agree with them or not, I am asked to account for the actions of the government.
Truth is that I can no longer remember a time when I didn’t feel a personal connection and accountability and I am not even sure if there was a time when I didn’t.
The thing that bothers me the most about the whole situation is that we dehumanize each other. We tell stories about the animals that slaughter us. We talk about the subhuman life forms that live and breathe as we do as if they were nothing.
But if you are going to kill someone and you have any sort of conscience you have to remove a little of their humanity or you lose more of your own. The problem is that even when you do that you still lose some.
Don’t misunderstand me. I have no problem saying that there are people on the other side who deserve to die. They have values that are in conflict with my own. They do not have the same regard for life and because of that many more people will die.
I haven’t any problem picking and choosing. Not all values are equal, some are superior to others.
But that doesn’t mean that I cannot feel compassion. It doesn’t mean that I don’t feel badly that there are innocent people who will suffer and that there are lives that will be shattered.
To me one of the strangest contradictions in life is knowing that sometimes in order to save lives you have to kill, you have to snuff others out. Life is full of shades of grey and sometimes it just doesn’t make sense.
I wish that it wasn’t like this and that we could get beyond classifying people this way, but that day hasn’t come yet. It is a sad comment on life and people.