Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Voice of the Defeated

Man, I know things are bad when someone's gotta remind me that I haven't placed a blog entry in a while. So, for the love of all things deep, here's my thought for the moment.

(Interesting thing happened since I last blogged...Seems my college has wisened up to the idea of blogging, so I no longer have to do this via proxy. What a welcome change!)

My prayers go out to all the people who were affected by the recent Gaza strip incident involving the Israelis and the Palestinians. It's going to take quite a lot to fix that situation, especially way more than George Bush (jr) - the person who once had enough power to spearhead the effort - ever put in.

Listening to Sarah Palin during the run up to the election, I just heard the reiteration of George Bush's position on the whole state of Mid East affairs:

"We (and Israel) are the good guys and the rest are bad guys."

Not exactly the conciliatory tone needed in this situation. Then recently during Obama's tour of Israel he of course stated that he wouldn't feel at ease if rockets were falling within earshot of his family's house, and he would of course try to keep them safe.

Snapshots aside, Obama's sentiments are universal. It is not merely an Israeli or American position to want to keep one's family safe; it is also a Palestinian position....ultimately, a human attribute. Therefore, with each victim racked up on either side, whether considered "collateral damage" or "terrorist-attack victim", the same human emotions are evoked: grief and anger. Given no rational level-headed outlets, you can pretty much expect radical alternatives as a means to settle the situation.

Another snapshot here: I'm reminded of an Introductory Bible class that I sat through in College, when one Prof. suggested that

"Christians are descendants of Abraham - through Isaac - just as the Israelis are; hence, we should side with Israel in what they do."

OK, I may have been attending a Christian College,....but come on! Immediately my critical thinking forced me to go over anything I learnt in that class (and any other religious classes) with the utmost scrutiny. People just get lazy when it comes to religion. No wonder it had that "opiate of the masses" label tagged to it.

Judging from history, everyone knows that the Israelis have had it very very rough. The holocaust and all other shames that they've been forced to live through are an embarrassment to humanity. But, luckily I'd say, at least the world recognizes that injustice; it is declared worldwide in the history books for the most part (in some countries it's even a punishable offence to deny the holocaust), and I believe some compensation has even been paid out. This is a mere token of course, never making up for even an iota of what happened...but my point is that this sin against humanity did not go unrecognized.

But there are more sins out there that are still not recognized. My mind flashes back to a Facebook debate I had with one American on a totally unrelated topic.
(Despite being Christian, I don't hesitate to hold Non-Christians, particularly Gandhi & Confucius, in the highest of regard for many of their views which sounding very Christian in their tone reflect that humanity is not totally-depraved.)
Anyway, my counterpart tore into Gandhi, blaming him for the tensions between India and Pakistan, and painted him as a "thorn in the side" of the British, what with all their plans to improve the standard of living in India.

I was shocked to say the least. If my counterpart had been more of a radical, he might have called Gandhi a terrorist. From my experience with people who've experienced Colonialism in all its glory, which is the vast proportion of this world, I know Gandhi is lauded as a peacemaker. But, the vast majority of this world only speaks with "the voice of one defeated"; one who has been put to shame. These people do not write the history books - the Victors do.

That's why the Aborigines in Australia had to wait till last year (2008) to get an apology for all the wrongs that were wrought on them; Nelson Mandela, proudly described as a terrorist by Margaret Thatcher, only got taken off the USA's terrorism list late last year. That man whom the world respects, imprisoned for dealing with an unjust system (an unjust system which the British had no qualms about supporting), and for the longest time he's still considered a terrorist.

And for me the injustice still lives on; to be born only one generation after colonialism ended in my country, to have relatives who lived through it and its injustices, still having to live with colonialism in some ways because the tools have changed ("Economics" vs. yesteryears "Brute Force")...only for an American student & his history professor to glorify a moment when my countrymen were put to shame.

That is the voice of the defeated.

Now, let's reflect back to the Palestinians. Land issues have always been a big problem, particularly when it comes to this colonialism issue. Some wars in Africa concerning lands (even now in the 21st century) trace their roots to the manner in which the African continent was partitioned. Lord knows shortly after independence that wars fought in the name of re-unifying lands lost to other countries could have taken a dastardly toll on the continent, but somehow the situation did not explode.

Back to the Palestinians and their land issue. The Zionist movement to restore the Jews to their homeland, which was colonized by the British, was effectively a one-sided affair. People in power felt it had to be done, and that homeland was established, neglecting the fact that the Israelis had been gone for so long, scattered so far and wide, that the people who were brought back were practically "alien" to the Palestinians among whom they were meant to be settled.
And to go from that, to the current state of affairs where Israel calls the shots in the region, and the Palestinians are basically a bunch of refugees who have to beg the rest of the world so that they can establish a country of their own is a particularly saddening affair. And it all happened as the world looked on.

This is why thus far, Americans, the people the world looks upon to fix this whole mess, have barely been able to do anything, especially lately. They do not understand the Language of the defeated. Personally, as I rue in my state of defeat, I'm more likely to retreat into my shell and recite the last line of Psalm 137 for my enemies - Happy are those who seize your children and smash them against a rock. But the people of the Middle East, particularly the radicals, deal with things in a totally different way...the kind that goes boom!

I look up to Mr. Obama to fix this situation, because judging from his collective past, he more than any recent American leader understand what it means to be put to shame, and that those feelings of shame, grief and anger do not vanish simply because the history books may have written them away.

Bring back the voice of the moderate in that region. Tame Israel's wanton destruction because bloodletting only begets more bloodletting. Take away the foot soldiers of the radicals by protecting the innocent children, mothers, fathers and extended families from harm, for truth to be told, if as a Child I got to see my Mother's life sacrificed in the name of "Collateral damage", I can't deny that I wouldn't consider making a similar example of my enemy's mother too.

For just like Mr. Obama and everybody else, at the start of each day, and its eventual end, I pray for my family to be safe, no matter which side of the line I sit on, no matter which country, creed or race I claim - I want my family to be safe.