Ahh yes, there’s nothing better to raise you out of bed on a Sunday morning than cannon shots and machine gun fire. As some of you may know, I live in the midwestern US. Farm country. My house sits on a three and a half acre plot of land surrounded by farm fields and a lake. Usually, my place is quiet and peaceful. It’s my sanctuary away from town and work where I can sit outside and hear nothing but the birds and the breeze. Not so this weekend. This weekend is the “Shooters Roundup”. I live about three miles away from a rural gun shop. They claim to have “5000 Guns” there. Outside, they have all kinds of shooting ranges for people to try out their new guns. And cannons, and machine guns. Buy a cannon or a machine gun and blow the hell out of stuff. How much more fun could that be?
This weekend they have vendors and displays selling every kind of weapon and ammo imaginable. The shooting goes on all day and half the night. The radio announcement said, “Fun for the whole family”. Maybe it’s just me but “fun for the whole family” would be a nice kayak paddle around the lake. Or hiking a trail in the Nature Center. But blowing the crap out of stuff with guns, I don’t know. I think I’d rather mow my lawn.
Listening to the gunfire reminds me of my Twitter friend, Sally Idwedar. Sally lives in Gaza. That’s Palestine, for those not familiar. I follow her tweets and she follows mine. Sometimes we talk over twitter. Occasionally she tweets about hearing shelling and gunfire. At the time of hearing it she’s never sure exactly where it is or how far away. She’s also never sure if it’s going to get closer or not. At least when I’m hearing the shooting I’m relatively sure that no one is going to come shooting at me. Not so for Sally. Israelis shoot, harass, torture, and kill Palestinians every day. Every day. Living there, you are never sure if next time it’s going to be you, or your family and friends.
Now to clarify, Palestinians have been living in Palestine forever. There have also been, Jews and Christians living there. No one is perfect, and there have always been squabbles among the people there but for most of recent history, the Arab Muslims, Arab Christians and Jews got along okay. In the late 19th century, European Jews started the Zionist movement. The Zionist movement was meant to gather Jews from around the world and make a permanent home for them. After considering other alternatives, they decided on Palestine. Funny, but Palestine was already a country, full of Palestinians. You don’t suppose they’d mind right. We’ll just start our country right in the middle of theirs. Well, it hasn’t worked out so well for the Palestinians, as you might guess. If you know US history then you’ll be familiar with this scenario. The Europeans came to America, named it “America” even though it already had a name, (many, in fact) and decided to make their own country here. It hasn’t worked out so well for the millions of people who were already here.
Ah yes, but don’t we know that people don’t learn from their mistakes? Or the mistakes of others? Yes we do. And so on it goes. One of the reasons that the Israelis have been able to get away with the atrocities against Palestinians is because they have the backing of the US government. Probably the only reason. It seems that if you do things like that, then you readily approve of others doing it too. Such is our history in the US. It makes me grieve for the Palestinians because we here in the US we can see the devastating results of this kind of action. Native Americans have had a horrible history at the hands of white Europeans. Things are slowly getting better for Native people but we’re talking about more than 400 years. What the hell, people? Why is this kind of thing allowed to happen? Why do we not care, as long as it isn’t us that it’s happening to? That’s just it isn’t it? If I think about this too long I might be late for church. Or I won’t get little Billy to his soccer practice. Better to not think about it because it’s not me who’s getting shot at. That’s how it happens. That’s how it keeps happening.
So as I sit here listening to my Sunday morning gunfire, I can’t help thinking about all this. I used to live a life of relative oblivion but some time ago I realized, to hell with church, to hell with soccer practice and all the rest of the mundane things we do everyday. We still have to do them, we still have to live our lives, but we need to devote time to thinking about and helping those that need us. We humans are all we’ve got. We need to love one another and love ourselves. It’s the only way to survive. If we don’t, we will destroy ourselves with our greed.