Qana: Trust No One
This is not the way I wanted to open this blog, but this must be the first thing I should address if anyone ought to listen to whatever I say in later posts. Because this is the only thing people in the world have to say to us today, so it seems. I must admit my mind went blank when I've seen yesterday's morning headlines. It seemed like the newspaper from 10 years ago, my first thought was: who's that stupid to do the same mistake, fall into the same trap?
But can I really know what happened there exactly? Is there a more "objective" news channel, a truer narrative, a way to frame this, that all of us will agree on, in the age of the digital image? Some will say it doesn't matter, that there's only silence when children die. But I think freeing any action of the need to fit into or answer to context, is dangerous and twisted. The problem is none of us knows the full picture of the context, all we have are stories. "Truth" for me is a complex puzzle I construct out of bits and pieces of personal narratives. so here's my truth today.
I look at the picture of this dad holding his dead baby, crying his heart out, and my eyes fill with tears. I'm thinking: my God, even if you're a Hezbollah terrorist, this is horrible, nobody deserves this. I find in myself this place above our differences in which I feel this kind of suffering could and should be omitted from human experience. But let's get back to reality. In reality, you and your friends dance in the streets when such babies die on this side of the border. What set of stories, which belief systems stand between us, between you and your basic humanity? Why can some people hold and contain this paradox and some see everything in extreme black and white terms that put an artificial line between "our" babies and "their" babies?
But maybe you're not Hezbollah at all, anonymous dad. Maybe you're one of these misfortunate people that Hezbollah hides behind. I read in a Lebanese blog a comment of a Lebanese guy saying that his family wanted to leave south of Lebanon and Hezbollah people turned their car upside down and told them they're not going anywhere. Israeli journalists saw on army briefings pictures of Hezbollah people shooting rockets and than running into civilian houses. Maybe they don't care about individual lives because in their meta-narrative the real reward is in some pan-Islamic heaven and this story is bigger than individual life. As Stalin put it "in order to make an omelet you got to break some eggs".
What Hezbollah knows and maybe world media is less willing to acknowledge is that Israeli culture and army don’t see things that way. The sacredness of individual life happens to be part of "our story", the bible (smart move, God). We have our own religious extremists that didn't interpret it that way, but luckily they're outnumbered, unlike our neighbor countries, where people with humanist views have to maintain a low profile to survive. Hezbollah people know all of this and are very smart; they know how to put us between the rock and the hard place. And this country is such a hard place. Throw a pacifist philosopher in a Zulu jungle with cannibal tribes for a couple of years, what do you think will happen to him? It's very hard to be left wing in this country since it's almost surreal.
I try to be a practical person; I know the difference between my core values and the actions I must take when I face pure evil. Sitting in your coffee shops in Oslo or Toronto you might debate this as a philosophical question: if you could end Islamic terrorism with one bomb but 40 children will die, would you have done it? Unfortunately this becomes a pragmatic question when you find yourself at war (setting aside the kinder garden "they started" accusation style for a moment). I'm not trying to justify anything. This whole historical dispute is unjustified, I don’t see why people hate each other for slightly different (and both twisted, I believe) interpretations of the same God. I think it's just a poor excuse for needing an "other" to blame for all your problems. But hey, nobody's ready to give up the stories that run their lives, otherwise who will we be? I guess we'll just BE here. I live here. Now I have to deal with it… It's my 34th birthday today. Mine and Harry Potter's. Boy, do we need some magic here….