Many of you may be suffering from the grief of knowing people in harms’ way
or who have been killed in Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq
as old grievances between Hamas and Israel’s Far Right have spiraled out of control
so I wish to offer my prayers and empathy for what you and they are going through.
As my poetry mentor Bill Stafford wrote, “every war has two losers” but sadly,
this war will have far more than that, since missiles have been sent across borders
of at least seven countries, and both Jews and Palestinians have suffered
from hate crimes related to this conflict over the last month. No one benefits
but it is important to say aloud that the entire world loses freedom of the press
when 54 Palestinian, 4 Israeli and 3 Lebanese journalists have been killed
merely trying to offer views into the chaos that many of us sorely need
to make real sense of the costs of this conflict to over 20 ethnicities.
For my part, I have close cousins whose villages and cities have been hit
with missiles and artillery fire between Israel and Hezbollah, even though
they may be of Maronite, Antiochian Catholic, Druse or faiths other than Shi’a.
I have visited that part of Lebanon many times, staying for more than two months
In the Bekaa and in Beirut, so these costs to human health are not an abstraction:
One of my cousins was kidnapped and sealed in a coffin for days during another conflict
and has never really recovered from his post-traumatic stress up through this moment.
I have also been invited to talk to both Israeli and Palestinian universities and non-profits
from Jerusalem to Jerico and the West Bank and can assure that none of my hosts
Were war-mongers, racists or far-right fundamentalists. They were bright, decent,
compassionate people who may get deeply upset by violence and injustices,
but they are not my “enemies” nor do I believe they are yours. My heart is with them,
for any time any of us can get out of the mindset that this war is a remote abstraction
that does not deeply affect lives of those we know, or our own, we are blessed
by the possibility that humanity will prevail over militaristic, strategic thinking.
Pray. Act. Accompany others in their suffering. Write political leaders. Support the Red Cross.