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Children playing in Gaza

Children went out to play during the three hours of ceasefire Israel announced in Gaza. Rushdi Abu Alouf reports for the BBC. It was the first time the children went outside of the building in 12 days. Psychiatrists fear that the children will never recover from their wounds.

In Oakland, riots are breaking out in Downtown. People are out on the streets, setting cars ablaze and burning tires. They are protesting the killing of an unarmed black male by metro police on the first day of the New Year.

There is much injustice and inequality in our world. The constitution says we are all equal, but the reality shows us otherwise. Where, when, and how did we lose sense of our humanity? How can we regain it?

Psychological damage is caused by trauma inflicted on children during war, under oppression, and from the first moment they are born. It does not take a PhD to see the connection between trauma and violence, but it takes a dreamer to believe that the damage is not irreversible. It can be transformed, but it won’t happen spontaneously, and it will take all of us working together. It will take time and patience, but above all compassion.

During the past twelve days of war on Gaza, about six hundred lives were taken, 14,000 displaced, and 3,000 injured. The children who died were perhaps more fortunate than the ones who witnessed their friends die. They have to live with the memory, experiencing the guilt of “why was I spared, am I worthy?” having anxiety attacks about bombs falling from the sky, harboring anger and resentment. This is true for both sides of the conflict. There are no winners in this battle, only casualties.

Enough damage has been done that if there were world peace tomorrow, we’d need at least three decades, if not three centuries, to undo the damage. Undo, unknot, untangle, wash clean….

How many children have been born under the Gaza siege? How many know a reality other than oppression, hunger, aggression, revenge, and victim-hood?
How many Iraqi children have suffered and seen their fathers murdered? How many of them are turned into human bombs?
How many Somali children have been displaced and are starving? How many Kurdish children were not even given a chance to learn to walk? The list goes on, and it goes back, from burning Jews in chambers, to slaughtering native Americans, witch hunts and crusades…slavery.

If we were to let ourselves feel, we would all be sobbing, we would not be able to live ‘normal’ lives…how could we? There is no separation…the pain of others is our pain. We try to numb it, turn on the TV, have a drink, make some money….

In our human history, we have no examples for peaceful civilizations; they appear only in the sunken myths and in the dreams of children...if only we would listen; if only we could give them the chance to dream, to feel safe enough to close their eyes, to wake up and tell us.

Peace is not a political solution, history has proven as much. Peace can only come from within the people, and particularly the children. Peace is the evolution of our consciousness; it is the only way we are to continue to exist, to prosper.

Working towards peace, finding it inside, and creating it outside…that is the new Jerusalem.

The damage is great. The need is greater. How am I working to mend it, how are you?


L;-
1/7/09

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