Friday, July 21, 2006
Another fine mess

This is a photo of me on the Israel/Lebanon border with the lovely Sgt. Beer (his real name!)

When I lived in Israel, there were soldiers everywhere. Every bus station, every street. In restaurants, Uzis belonging to men and women of the IDF were slung over the backs of chairs. I traveled throughout the country endlessly aware of someone with a gun close by. I even fired an AK47 while I was there. It doesn’t make me proud. I became so desensitized by the time I moved home that it was odd coming back to Los Angeles – a place where guns are hidden, locked in cabinets.

I am sickened by everything that is going on. Michael describes it thusly:

“You kill me, I kill you.”
“No – you kill me, I kill you!”
“No – you kill me, I kill you!”
“No – you kill me, I kill you!”
ad infinitum….

The military on both sides have agendas that civilians do not share.

I’m not saying that Israelis don’t want their soldiers returned or that some Lebanese don’t side with Hezbollah and want Israel to be flattened into a sheet of glass, however, every Israeli and every Lebanese in their right minds want peace. They want to wake up in the morning unafraid to send their children to school. They want to go grocery shopping and go to work. They want to live a normal life. They want to come home to find their families safe – they want to put their children to bed without having to lie to them.

Enough already. It is so beautiful in the Middle East. I can’t show you how the air smelled beautiful. How the rocks under your feet were bathed in history. How even the dust, you knew, was the dust of millennia.

It is so scarred by war. I would love to show Israel and Egypt to Michael -- places I loved visiting. I would love to visit Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon. I cannot – but the real tragedy is that people who live in these countries with so much history cannot get a peaceful night’s sleep. They are not able to come to the fullest realization of themselves because they must put up with constant hatred and a barrage of weaponry that they are desensitized to every day.

Enough already. Here is a poem from Pablo Neruda that I was sent:

Too Many Names

Mondays are meshed with Tuesdays
and the week with the whole year.
Time cannot be cut
with your weary scissors,
and all the names of the day
are washed out by the waters of night.

No one can claim the name of Pedro,
nobody is Rosa or Maria,
all of us are dust or sand,
all of us are rain under rain.
They have spoken to me of Venezuelas,
Of Chiles and Paraguays;
I have no idea what they are saying.
I know only the skin of the earth
and I know it is without a name.

When I lived amongst the roots
they pleased me more than flowers did,
and when I spoke to a stone
it rang like a bell.

It is so long, the spring
which goes on all winter.
Time lost its shoes.
A year is four centuries.

When I sleep every night,
what am I called or not called?
And when I wake, who am I
if I was not I while I slept?

This means to say that scarcely
have we landed into life
than we come as if new-born;
let us not fill our mouths
with so many faltering names
with so much sad formalities
with so much pompous letters,
with so much of yours and mine,
with so much signing of papers.

I have a mind to confuse things,
unite them, bring them to birth,
mix them up, undress them,
until the light of the world
has the oneness of the ocean,
a generous, vast wholeness,
a crepitant fragrance.

— Pablo Neruda


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Blogger Uccellina said...

Neruda makes everything just a little bit better.

Blogger Elizabeth McClung said...

Though it will make me look like a niave fool - I keep praying that the people involved in fighting will choose to give up the conflict, put down thier weapons, forget thier hate and see the potential divinity in the people on the other side. I don't want to live in a world where I accept that hate and conflict are a natural state of being.

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