Tuesday, February 5, 2008

the contagion.

Kevin pointed out that today was a 10.5 hour day with ATG. It was such a draining day. I think the reality of life in Beit Sahour is beginning to sink in and stick. I feel as if there must come a tipping point for all the history, stories, emotions, and everything we’ve encountered up to this point. There have been points in the day when my heart has briefly sunk, my eyes feel tears, but my self wills this emotion away – not now, in the middle of a lecture. Emotion must be released, I realize, but it is difficult to be so vulnerable in a new environment with new people.

There is real pain here – so much more than I have ever experienced, I’m sure. We watched a documentary tonight called “Arna’s Children.” It reveals the pain, anger, and hatred of extremists. The refugee came Janin was a hotbed of retaliation four years ago. Amidst it, a camp was started, to provide a creative outlet for the children through song and acting. Hatred is seeded in their hearts so young. And why wouldn’t it be? Their homes are destroyed, friends are murdered, and little girls die in your arms. Hatred grows in these circumstances like invincible weeds. There is no remedy – the trauma and reality these kids face will not change unless the environment changes. Unless the cycle of hatred and violence changes.

Halfway through the film, I feel sick. I do not want to watch any more. The kids, the men – they all speak about death. They prepare for killing, protecting, and the loss of sensitivity. I feel numb at the thought that this is so present all around. I am numb thinking that violence is and excuse for some, and an answer for many. Why?

Tears come as I watch the end of the film. Children gather and sing a retaliation song: “Another martyr will be replaced by another.” I feel I have no right to cry. These are not my relatives or friends. I am not Palestinian. But I am broken by my disappointment with humanity, with the world. My frustration is in the broken spirit. Love, hope, grace, and forgiveness provide such freedom. Why do people reject it so violently? Hatred tears away the soul of a person and a community. It is contagious and relentless.

For the first time, I feel physically vulnerable and fearful. The last place I should fear is sitting in a cushy chair at ATG. I should feel fear when a settler is following behind us with a big gun in Hebron. But not here… not in this safe space. The uncertainty and unpredictability of violence is what shakes me. Anything can occur. And here I sit, in the West Bank. My naivety is great, but I am not ignorant of the unrest that lies everywhere. Even so, I am strongly convinced that the Lord is sovereign, even in the crazy, confusing world.

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