Voices of Spencer Creek Valley
Life on the Forty-fifth Parallel
Rain & Ramallah
by Ryan Ramon
I awoke to the sound of rain, a soft wet rushing on new leaves
and old roof. It cheered me up. I have been finding the relentless sunshine eerily
oppressive this spring when we should have rain, lots of mud making, ground swelling,
river filling, sap stretching, seed quickening rain. Laying there in my nice warm
clean bed I began to think about what we will do this weekend. Now that the rains
have come again, I can plant a couple more trees. It's time to prepare my raised
garden beds for the spinach seedlings sprouting on the window still. Better get to
the library and return those books and video tapes, and I can swing by the recycling
center (Bring). And it struck me that these small tracks of daily life are only possible
in a civil society, where there is peace and plenty, more or less. I got up and switched
on the radio to listen to NPR news while I mediated on the can. Electricity. I flushed
the can. Water. Washed my hands and face. More water, clean water from the spring
to our tap. I padded out to the kitchen to put on the kettle. More water and electricity.
Ancient Mother Cat extracted her toll of milk. Meow. Milk and refrigerator, more
electricity, a farm economy in place, transportation, markets and supermarkets. I
knew if I suddenly choked on my cereal or got ill, help from 911 medics was a call
away. Phone lines work. Medics and doctors are not being shot at. My son bikes off
to school. I am not worried about deadly gunfire, just speeding cars.
As I started my day I heard more tragic news from Israel/Palestine about the unrelenting
war on Palestinian civilians by the Israeli military. Where these simple givens of
a functioning civil society are not in place, not just absent but the very opposite.
No water on tap, no electricity, no medics, can't go to work or school, can't be
safe in one's own home and bed, tanks and helicopters everywhere, terror and indiscriminate
death everywhere, beyond endurance. Yet people are surviving and trying to mobilize
world opinion. I am reminded of another similar situation, a tale told by my mother
when I was little, about brave heroic people living and fighting for survival beyond
what seemed possible. They were under siege by the Nazi army, being starved out,
thousands died and yet they struggled on for freedom and life. For hope. They were
the people of the Warsaw ghetto uprising.
Perhaps such an experience doesn't enlighten a group of people. In trying to prevent
such a holocaust again, the survivors built a culture of first strike terror. If
from the early days of Israel/Palestine, the legitimate desires and history of the
Palestinian people had been incorporated into building of a bi-national state, this
current war would not exist. Our national government also holds a grave responsibility
for this mind-numbing war on civilians. The USA historically uses Israel as its proxy
outpost on the "Arab frontier". Geo-political and oil economic concerns
have distorted our foreign policy to arm Israel to its high-tech teeth (and maybe
in part from guilt that we did nothing to aid the Warsaw ghetto uprising).
I am encouraged by news of the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements. They are
very brave and deserved all the support we can muster. They are organizing International
Solidarity Movement observers. They are practicing civil disobedience serving jail
time because they refuse army service in the Occupied Territories and, they are going
to Palestinian cities and villages, trying to stop the bombing war on civilians,
hoping the soldiers will think twice about shooting up a neighborhood. They are speaking
out when it is dangerous to do so.
When will we make our government listen? The Palestinians have been begging for United
Nations observers. Bush speaks in confused messages (Arafat good, Arafat bad...)
and the arms manufacturers are very happy. When will we cut our supply of arms for
war and put the power of American influence to work for peace and justice for all?
The harm of the current war may take generations to untangle. But in the meantime
how will Palestinian civil society be rebuilt? What of the water supplies, the farming,
the electricity, the phones, the press, the schools, the hospitals, the libraries,
the craft factories, the markets, let alone the issues of a permanent homeland or
civil government and peaceful coexistence with a secure Israel? How do we influence
the first step of calling for total stop to the killing and a withdrawal of troops
from the Occupied Territories?
And what of the encouragement of anti-Semitism and of suicide-bombers by oppressive
regimes in the region? Those politics of despair won't survive in a climate where
there is hope, where there is a challenge and reward in daily life. Do we want everyone
to be "just like us"? No, we know that the history and cultures are different.
But everyone has the right to work and hope in peace. Where a man can awake in the
morning and plan to plant a tree.
For more discussion, information and links - Please see Voices of Peace.