We learned how to deal with this as kids. Why do we forget as adults?
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I can’t pretend the world is normal when it is so clearly not.
When two kids hit each other in school, a teacher separates them and reminds the kids that we don’t solve problems by fighting. We are supposed to talk things out.
Yet when those kids become adults and fight in a uniform with massive weapons, it is seen as acceptable to society. The people shooting guns and dropping bombs are “heroes.” There are statues erected in their honor, highways and bridges named for them. We celebrate them on two separate holidays and give the ones who come home discounts on stuff at stores.
The temporary truce has expired and fighting has resumed in Gaza. “Fighting” isn’t even a fair way to describe it.
Watch the videos of the bombing. Listen to the force of those weapons. Imagine feeling the ground shaking underneath you. Imagine wondering if you’re next. Or knowing that you probably are. What do you do?
When I was in preschool, there was a kid who loved to build towers out of giant cardboard blocks. I was the boy who would come around and gleefully knock them over, destroying his work.
It’s not that I was a malicious child or was inherently evil. Knocking over blocks was fun and I didn’t see the harm in doing it. My teachers had to help me recognize that the other child had spent time building up his tower and it was wrong for me to come in and destroy it.
I haven’t knocked down anybody’s blocks since I was four or five years old because I learned my lesson in school. I learned to take other’s perspectives and appreciate other’s hard work.
Have you seen the videos of the rubble piles where neighborhoods once stood? In one drone video, it looks like the gray surface of the moon, not a place that people once lived their lives less than two months ago.
In school, we also learn to share. We learn that other students have the same right to a safe classroom, cafeteria, and playground that we do. We may not like everybody, we may not agree with everybody, but we are taught that they have a right to be and to express themselves.
Yet as adults, we decide that those with whom we disagree cannot be afforded the basic rights that we thought belonged to everybody as children. For the crime of living on land, we exact the death penalty.
The Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 was awful and I condemn it.
But Israel’s response is now completely out of proportion with “self defense” and is undeniably looking like a genocide more each day.
Politicians and military leaders will say this is being done at least in part to defend the right for the Jewish state of Israel to exist. The Israeli government does not represent Judaism or the will of all Jews worldwide. They cannot. Because the Jewish faith literally centers around the concept of peace.
Shalom is the word for peace, but it’s also a greeting used for both hello and goodbye. It is spoken dozens of times a day.
Shalom is similar to the Muslim word salaam, also meaning peace and used as a greeting.
Perhaps we’re more alike than it seems on the surface. If we actually listen to the lessons we learned in school and from religious teachings, we can find a peaceful way to coexist. To live. To thrive.
There is no teacher coming to intervene now. Teachers set the foundation for us when we were young, but once we get out into the real world, it’s up to adults to carry those lessons forward and apply them for ourselves.
Motaz Azaiza has been one of the reporters sharing the horror of this conflict with the world. He posted the passage below on his Instagram Story, which was translated to English by Plestia Alaqad, another Gazan journalist who recently fled to Egypt:
“The phase of risking your life to show what's happening is over now and the phase of trying to survive has started…
We can't go to the south or the north.
The Israeli tanks are surrounding the middle area from the south and north!…
Remember that we are not content to be shared, we are a nation that is getting killed and we are trying not to be ethnically cleansed
How alone we are!”
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