There’s a line in Syriana that has been coming to my mind recently, as chaos looms large over the Gaza strip. I’ve only seen the movie once so bear with me. There’s this teenage boy who’s amidst all these other young kids in a room full of bunk beds in what appears to be a work camp somewhere in the middle east (details not my forte here). He keeps saying “they fed us lamb at the Madrasah” and “I like lamb.” This kid and his friends end up later in the movie going to school at a Madrasah, where he is fed (lamb, presumably) and cared for, and eventually taught to be a suicide bomber, which becomes his fate. I guess the reason I keep thinking of this scene (in a movie I barely understood) is that it suggests that there are so many shades of gray in the world. That the suicide bomber was not born evil. His experience informed his actions. The people who fed him told him whom to hate. There is right and there is wrong in the world. But situations are more complicated than we are sometimes even capable of comprehending.
Last night I heard that the death toll in Gaza is over 900 – 275 of which are children.
Up to and including election day, I had some heated discussions with friends and even strangers (oh, the magic of facebook, bringing us together) over politics. They started out as theoretical (death penalty, abortion, virtues of capitalism, healthcare) and devolved into soundbites in which I got dangerously close to calling a friend a “bigot” because she didn’t believe gays should be able to adopt children. Despite an election result that made me very happy, I felt bad for days after. How is it that two people that are friends can disagree on so many fundamentals (We’re talking like, everything. Sarah Palin vs. Dennis Kucinich here.)
I firmly believe that any thing is possible in life. There is a way to convince my friend that all people deserve the right to be married and raise children. There is a road to compromise, I just have to find it. Are there words that would work to change her mind, or perhaps actions? If she were to be introduced to a loving gay family, or to a child who lived in foster care in need of a home? Surely she could see where that child would be better off? If her priest told her that it is not her place to judge? Something could change her mind, I know it. The challenge in life is that we don’t give up trying to change those minds. Calling someone a bigot and dismissing them is giving up. Why even bother.
So last night, the last image that flashed in my mind was this: Mahmoud Abbas and Ehud Olmert. Holding hands. Actually it was me holding their hands, but I mean come on, what are the chances?
They are just men, just grown-up boys. It was the world that informed them of their role as enemies. And I think to myself, peace is out there, tangible, attainable. The rockets could stop this instant. In a moment, hearts could change, be filled with compassion. Old rivalries could dissolve in a heartbeat. It is our challenge, my challenge, to figure out the path to that moment. How do we make it stop? Surely billions of hearts and minds working together could find the solution.