The Life I'm Living
Prayer and Powerlessness

Summer 2014

Lotus between bud and blossom

Between bud and blossom.

It is summer, so that must mean a war between Israelis and Palestinians. To say that this cycle of death and destruction is horrible underscores how weak words are.

It is ghastly in its endless: destruction death isolation helplessness hopelessness hate honor fear loss futility.

Forcing futility aside, for a moment’s shimmer, a thought that someday there must be life there without the expectation of days and weeks like these.

Amid the images, I read a post by Jen Marlowe, a writer and documentary film-maker who I met at a conference, and I lose my breath because she writes from the core of all of us about the sadness of endless loss, so harsh and useless. And what are we but people: your side my side no side inside.

Within devastation there must be strength because we are entrusted with the lives of children. It is not for us to give up because isn’t it the duty of the adults in the room to provide hope to a child and aren’t we all, hatreds and distrust aside, in the same room.

There must be more to the lives of Israelis and Palestinians, children and adults, than this reality.

For days (only days?) I alternate between reading news reports from Gaza and Israel, and I read commentaries analyzing with the intelligence of opinion, laying blame and restating plans, and then I read about anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rallies around the world, and I watch documentaries about non-violence and inter-communal work that have gone on there in the lull portion of the cycles, and I wish I could turn away, but I can’t. This is all I can do. My confused mind with my beating heart are my prayer for peace.

For almost 20 years I lived in Israel, through wars and terrorist attacks, and so this obsession with the news has become ingrained. Yet, when I left in August 2000 there was hope of peace. I saw a car with Jordanian license plates in Tel Aviv. Ah, there was hope and finally time to deal with Israel’s internal problems. But it was not to be. A second Intifada. More terrorist attacks, More bombings. More destruction within and without.

Your side. My side. No side. Inside.

How does killing more people, creating more mourners, bring peace beyond a moment? How does endangering and threatening the lives of millions of people bring about a worthy goal? How is death the purpose of life? There are so many shoes we need to try on, to walk in, to understand. But shouldn’t it be one shoe fits all? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Do no harm.

Couldn’t we have music to occupy ourselves with instead of cries, senseless piercing cries for help and loss and sorrow and fear. Unending calamity.

Shouldn’t the battle of life be to prevent wars? But our history books, ancient and modern, show who keeps winning that idea. New grudges. Old grudges. Fresh blood. Renewable fear. Can we have life?

Shouldn’t a sip of hot tea with mint or coffee with cardamom at the break from day into night be what is held sacred?

So much hatred that I shudder from the cycle’s expansion. Why is it so easy to hate? To not see to not hear to not feel. To curtail compassion.

What is peace? It is not moments of non-fighting; it is pushing against this dynamic, pushing for naiveté to succeed. It is to push against the aggression of history, of men in history. Of men who know more and better than everyone. The arrogance of war and power, right and right.

I am left, I am right, I am center.

I am Jewish.

I am American. I am Israeli.

I am deflated.

I am a woman. I am a mother.

I am a teacher.

Will there ever be moments in time when there are no wars, no fighting, no ugly contentions? Have there ever been?

At what point do the masters of their domains look around and realize that it’s been for naught. It is nothing, their little suzerainties. Could they pretend for a moment that they are women, all mothers, caring for their children and not men, fathers, seeking to uphold a code?

My land. Your land. This rocky land. A two-thousand year dream. A rusty key. We bear witness to the harshness of caring for more than the self. No one is right. What is right? To keep digging holes of contempt and righteousness.

World view. The world hates us. We hate the world. Yes. Is there a point?

A bend in the road must lead away from the repetition of history’s markers and makers.

A dream for non-violence non-hatred non-dismissal non-rejection. A dream for acceptance sharing compassion without restrictions without names. 



I wish I could come up with some words of wisdom, but much more intelligent minds than mine have been asking these questions and searching for answers a very long time. A new generation must be born and taught without hate.

Can that happen? I think so. I hope so.

Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman

I think a key is to not have the same people (even if their names change) always at the battlefield and at the negotiation table--and that stands for the Israelis, the Palestinians, and the assorted diplomats. The time has come to let the generals and the terrorists and the know-all experts take a vacation. Time to let people whose lives depend on peace--and not those whose livelihoods depend on war--have a chance. Not thinking big here.

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