Monday, January 12, 2009

Gaza & spirituality (guest post)

He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares not is a slave. - Sir William Drummond

When Jeanette asked me to continue our on-going conversation about spirituality, religion, and atheism here, the post began to just write itself. What's here, however, is not what I planned to say . . .

I've spent much of the last ten days with a fellow blogger friend setting up and now maintaining an internetwork on Facebook, Twitter, and our blogs of Palestinian/Gazan activists, making sure their news and cries for help reach the world in realtime.

I am no fan of Hamas. Let me be clear about that. Neither do I send any kisses to Fatah, Hizbullah, or the Israeli state and its operatives (IDF, Mossad, etc). But when I get up each morning after a sleep that did not stem my exhaustion, I go back to watch videos I had posted the night before. And every time, I am shaken to the core . . .

I was in my teens to early twenties when the US was ravaged by assassinations, race riots, political riots, Nixon, Kent State, the Tet offensive, and the futile shame and carnage of Southeast Asia. Firsthand, I experienced tear gas, riot sticks, anarchy, drug addiction, virulent hate.

The press was still free to document the truth, so I saw death and destruction and deceit and blood every day on TV. Later, for several years as a therapist, I treated alcoholism in NamVets who had developed that awful illness by drinking in order to kick the heroin addiction they brought back from the war. Nasty. I lost several folks, some clients, some friends, to madness, despair, and suicide. And many others silently succumbed to lives become totally unmanageable and unbearable.

But I have never seen anything close to what I watch on those videos. Videos recorded and conveyed by shaking cell phones through a jerry-rigged network of internet nodes. Videos showing civilian adults and children, bleeding, dead, dying, screaming, maimed. Others, some hurt, some not, running from victim to victim sprawled on the asphalt and concrete in a quick triage and hauling off the still-living to non-existent medical care at rocket-ruined hospitals . . .

We know that this conflict, this current battle in a six-decade war, is not just about religion and culture. Not just about Jew and Arab, Jew and Muslim, Israel and Palestine. It is about land, resources such as oil and water, and "geopolitical alliances" (that sinister phrase that translates into autonomy and empire). It is also about fear, rage, hate, jealousy, revenge, tradition, and pride. And money - always money.

So that is what this, and all, war is about. But the thing itself? Organized insanity. I do not use that term metaphorically. Insanity is an illness, a dis-ease, of the brain. An imbalance of natural organic chemicals causes a disruption of sane thinking, producing a liability of emotion, resulting in aberrant behavior - such as mass murder and other crimes perpetrated by humans on other humans. Once begun, it is an addiction cycle -- war producing more insanity driving more war. The cycle produces and thrives on the core of denial. The cycle is broken only when the participants realize that the upside is not exceeding the downside and cry "uncle!"

On Wednesday, the United States Senate, and on Friday, the United States House of Representatives passed concurrent resolutions which condemned Hamas and condoned Israel's actions. The vote in the Senate was a unanimous floor vote; the House voted 390 in favor, 5 opposed, with a scattering of others voting "present" or abstaining. A recent poll claimed that over 30% of Democrats oppose Israel's actions, but 95% of Congress gave Israel a pat on the back and kicked Gaza in the gut. What does that tell you?

We are part of the insanity - many would say we have been instrumental in causing it and are incapable and/or unwilling to help stop it. At the UN Security Council, the US has repeatedly vetoed resolutions to cease the violence. Kill more. Don't stop. If that's not socio- and psychopathic, it'll do until the real thing checks into the hospital.

In the videos I watch, as people lie motionless or whirl around screaming in these scenes, here are some questions that not once were asked: Do you believe in God? Are you Sunni or Shi'ite? Are you Hamas? Are you Fatah? Have you prayed to Allah? Are you a Jew? Who did you vote for? What do you think of Israel? Of America? Are you gay? Are you an infidel? Do you have health insurance? Do you have identification? Under those conditions, only one question counts - am I going to die? . . .

(more to come in Part 2 . . .)

ddjango (the "dd" is silent) is a political and cultural writer in exile from Boston. He began writing on the internet with the now-archived blog ddjangoWIrE in 2002, then founded P! in 2004. He has been known to post at American Samizdat, PBA, Peoples Voice, Thomas Paine's Corner, Empire Burlesque, Corrente, and other sites. He is also a published Content Provider at Associated Content and a Sustaining Member of ZNet.

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