Gaza: our failure to recognize a shared humanity |

Gaza: our failure to recognize a shared humanity

With the events in Gaza we confront our essential nature as human beings. News photos of Israeli soldiers in armored vehicles heading toward Gaza show the bravado of a conquering army heading toward battle with a guerilla force.

No one would argue that Hamas’ continuing firing of rockets into Israeli territory is an act of terrorism. But the numbers are telling; the Palestinians in disputed cities number close to two million. Given a generous estimate, Hamas fighters number perhaps 10,000. They are a small percentage of the population of civilians in Gaza. And what is it that the Palestinians want? Freedom, peace, and the rule of law. These are rights inscribed in both the American and the French Revolution’s key articles. A civil society forms the basis of what binds us all.

We have allowed ourselves to be defined by the metaphors of war; let us change those metaphors. We speak of a right to ‘defend ourselves from attack.’ We reference evils of the Second World War (most wrenchingly those of the Holocaust); and we desire not to allow these evils to be repeated.

But metaphors of war lead only to more war. Let us change the metaphors of war to the metaphors of peace. This is poetic work. In the face of brutality it can appear that poetry makes nothing happen. But the truth is, poetry makes everything happen. In the catch-phrases we hear there are powerful poetic drivers.

Evil in the case of Gaza is in failing to recognize a shared humanity; and we get to that shared understanding not by demonizing the other, but by recognizing our shared destinies. We choose, between compassion and hatred. We are capable of both.

WScott McLean

Nevada City

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