Israel? Palestine?

My social media feeds these days filled with two kinds of horror.

I see pictures of bleeding, injured and dead Palestinians and I see pictures of bombed synagogues in Europe and burning Israeli flags.

Rockets from Gaza, Artillery from Israel, the extremes of hate and violence are breathtakingly sad regardless of where you land on the spectrum.

People calling for death on both sides. Violent protests everywhere.

In the midst of all of this complex violence, hatred,  and rhetoric one thing is certain – violence is not going to resolve the issue. Violence on the part of those who hold power and violence on the part of the oppressed will only serve to further to conflict.

It is interesting how when a circumstance as complex as Israel-Palestine is met with calls for non-violent action the responses become radically simple –

“Should we do nothing while we are attacked?” by which is meant “should we not meet violence with violence and power with power?” and not “nothing”.

How can I even begin to answer? I, a person who lives outside of the conflict? Any suggestion I give will no doubt be met with spoken and unspoken responses of “You have no right to an opinion? You have not lived what we live?” and this is true…but it does not negate the truth of a statement, and that statement is:

Violence met with violence solves nothing. It never has. It never will.

But is this true? What about WW2? The Allies met the Axis countries violence with violence to the point of ending the war. Are there not times when violence should be met with violence toward a just end? This is the question that Augustine and others have attempted to answer.

The greatest frustration I have seen is there are no simple answers. Every answer is met with a “yes but…” response which negates the answer in the first place.

This is frustrating because people are literally dying in this conflict and have been dying for decades while politicians and power brokers argue back and forth about a solution.

The recent American decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has caused frustration because it signifies that the U.S. is not interested in the pre-1967 war U.N. designed boundaries which set Jerusalem apart from both Israel and Palestine.

It suggests that Palestinians must accept the current reality given the decades long presence of Israels Supreme Court and the Knesset in Jerusalem.

Israel responds in part by saying “well perhaps if Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon had not attacked Israel in 1967 in what is now known variously as the Six-Day War or the Arab-Israeli War then we could have avoided the current circumstances. As it stands these territories are our rightful spoils of war.”

Palestine on the other hand points to brutal, apartheid-like treatment of Gaza and the West Bank as evidence of oppression designed to strangle and ultimately destroy Palestinians and the idea of Palestine to which Israel responds “stop sending rockets, suicide bombers and violent attackers into Israel and we can talk” to which Palestine responds stop building settlements on Palestinian land…to which Israel responds “we need these to guarantee the peace and security of Israel” to which Palestine responds…and forever onward it goes with no end in sight and the beginnings increasingly lost to the past and muddied with present obfuscation by all parties.

In the mean time Palestinians are dying. Israelis are dying. Jews are being subjected to increased antisemitism globally. Palestinians are being subjected to increased racism globally.

In my own simple mind the original U.N. boundary plan for a two-state solution is still the best option…but what do I know…it’s complicated.

hurt

i don’t,
i don’t,
i don’t know why,
but my heart aches
when your heart aches
and i want to stop the pain
but i know i don’t know how
and still i feel the beats deeper,
they echo in my cavern chest
like shadows of my own
flickering in,
flickering out,
burning outlines of the hurt
behind my closed eyes.

Chests of Bone and Sinew

where,
o where do you keep your heart
my dear?

where is it contained?

in small and distant places?
fractured, scattered to the winds
and around the world?

is it in chests
of bone and sinew
beating alongside others
as mine is?

is it buried beneath this scabbed earth,
safe entombed in granite
and far from prying eyes…
away from pain…away from love
and numb with the cold?

can you hear it beat,
and if you can
is it a beat out of time
or in line with the grand chorus?

no matter love –
no matter where you keep your heart
be it near or be it far;
let it be in keeping with
the brilliance of who you are

To Go Into the Desert

What does it mean to find yourself in the desert? What does it mean to have been there so long you do not recall if you were cast into it, led into it or walked out into it voluntarily…and maybe you don’t care anymore.

Maybe you were born in the desert and raised on the glorious mythology of the golden oasis only to learn that the oasis was crowded and made poisonous with the filth of too many seeking after too much…and so you left.

Maybe the desert is where you belong…maybe it is where you and others want to you to be…maybe all three.

The desert is a place where God needs to provide. There is no way through the desert without God. No survival without God. Whether you are there for six months or 40 years is entirely up to you.

I confess I prefer the desert to the oasis. I prefer the silence to the noise and isolation to the crowd.

How does one reconcile this to a theology of community? What does the desert have to do with community? Is one desert bound also ex communio?

I confess I cannot answer these questions…not to any level of satisfaction.

Sometimes I miss the oasis but really it is not the oasis I miss so much as the pedestal and so perhaps the desert is the best place for me. It is not community so much as it is the mountaintop I miss. To visit the burning bush and return with the voice of God and the tablets…the whole thing reeks of presumption and ego.

The mistake of the Accuser, that Satan, in leading Christ to the desert was in thinking that in the middle of the waste the need would be so great that Jesus would crumble and bow down. The mistake was the failure to recognize that it is in the dry places that God provides water and in the lonely places that God provides community and in the hot places that God causes the shade tree to rise up and offer comfort.

The mistake is to believe that the desert is absent of God when in fact the spirit of God hovers and moves as the breeze through the barrenness seeking opportunity to bring life.

It is from out of the desert that voices pregnant with having met God come and faces glowing with having seen God come, to bring with them a wisdom that is not their own.

I live in the desert for now. I love the desert for now. I will remain in the desert for now.

such a song

beauty turns to horror
when the song becomes the scream
and the throat begins to bleed;

so much for the joy;
it was injected into our veins,
and burned into our brains,
and now we are blind with stupidity,
and now we are blind with rage.

weren’t meant for better things?
maybe were meant for nothing,
maybe we weren’t meant at all.

our shit

we had things in the littler times,
we had things we called our own,
we made these cast off things our own;
sometimes broken,
most times used,
no matter – this press board, this garbage, this shit,
it became ours. it was our shit,
and we made it better.

but

it was still shit.
just because it became ours,
just because we made it our own,
just because we did the best,
the best we could with it,
it doesn’t change the fact that
it was still shit and we knew it.

don’t ever think that taking it in
made it better somehow.

 

filling spaces

i drive the long,
and i drive the empty
spaces between the places,
the spaces between the smallest places;
though sometimes i fly,
i fly the blue and sunbright skies,
the skies between the places,
between the largest of places;
left alone with my crazy self
thinking shutupshutupshutupshutup
to the non-stop that blurs my thoughts
running together like an endless train
of painted, purple unanswered questions
of unchallenged observations;

and so

i put on the music of the other insane
and listen to their pain/pleasure craziness
to drown out the familiar nagging
that screams louder and louder
when it sense that i, that i, that i,
that i am alone with it in the spaces,
the spaces between small places,
and the skies between large places;
until it stops trying to force me to listen
and it takes control of my hands
making me write and write and write,
because it cannot stay inside
for fear that the unexposed nerve,
the unlistened to cry,
becomes the closed forever door
of the one walking who had died

Penumbra

People.

Interesting creatures.

People look at other people and think they know them. They look and decide if they like or dislike them. Often people are indifferent but when they are not they are weighing and deciding about one-another.

The thing is though we way and decide based on externals. Even when we think we are digging into a person we are often not.

Sometimes we decide whether people like us or not based on their ideas and comments to and about us. Usually however these ideas are not about us but about our own ideas. It is like two reflections looking at one-another and thinking they know the real person…the source of the image, only to find later the image was not real but a dim inverted representation.

We do not know the people we think we know. We know what they show. We know the external representations of the internal like we know the dim, out-of-focus edges of a shadow.