The Album of Our Clan: War is Messy,That’s Just the Way It Is

By on July 23, 2014

They tell me war is messy.

It’s a mess, they say, that involves the death of children. That’s just the way it is and we must seek out the murderers and wipe them off the face of the earth.They tell me  I need to be careful when  posting a picture of a dead child of the clan of the Other on my Facebook Page.

Children killed during an airstrike on the beach in Gaza (NYT Photo)

I must place right next to it a photograph of a dead child of my own clan. Otherwise I might be een as the enemy of my people.

.To post an image of a child’s lifeless body is not enough. It could be misleading. We might be leaving out the justification for the murder of that particular child. We might be withholding the explainable reason for his death.  We might be omitting the story of the violent actions of members of the Clan of the Other which incited his murder.

We need context and an explanation.  Then  we can rest assured that someone more qualified will attend to cleaning up the mess.

But what if,  what if we viewed all the pictures of the dead as photographs in our family album? The album of our extended family? A family in which the mothers and fathers appear to be incapable of  childproofing the house?

What if in this messy dysfunctional family, childproofing the home is simply not a top priority for the grown ups until perhaps the stray bullet hits a target in their own living room? .

Where  do we look for the guts to scan the headlines of the day for the next addition to that album of victims in our  extended family ?

What if there really is no Other? What if it’s just us? What then?

How do we channel all the left over rage and grief of those who came before us? Which direction do we aim the missiles then?

The sage of the tradition I was born into, Rabbi Tarfon tells me: “You’re not expected to finish the work but neither are you fee to take no part in it.”

We have work to do. Every word has power, consciousness counts. We matter.


7 Responses to “The Album of Our Clan: War is Messy,That’s Just the Way It Is”

  1. Chiam says:

    I was on the European Visionary Circle last night and being accountable was one of the themes that ran through the call. Locking ourselves away from the World could be seen as an orphan reality as we are not separate from the World and what happens to our neighbour or someone on the other side of the world impacts us all. I am both Jewish and Israeli and am horrified every time I hear of another death on either side of this conflict. Having lived in Israel for many years, I know that there is no easy solution and I have had a tendency to avoid the news where possible as I really don’t know what I can do to help. This blog and last night’s call has made me think differently. Thank you Julia for the blog and for the comments that have followed. I really like the idea of creating a ripple in the pond. There is a quote by John Lennon that I love and came to mind when thinking about how I might be able to make a difference to the World which is “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” Take care. Love, Esther x

  2. RachelSF says:

    I believe deep down we all want to love and be loved. And, yes, we can mourn every child that dies because of violence and hatred. Praying for peace in the world.

  3. Robin says:

    Dear Julia,

    The magic of this post is that you say these are all our family. I’m sure anyone in the situation in Israel can find a justification for these actions. I’m sure everyone in that area has friends and family to avenge. This cannot be solved by “evening the score” because there is no end if that is the intent. Somehow people have to go past an eye for an eye. I am sure that is unimaginably difficult. Can we see each other as humans and as you say, Julia, with families, mothers, friends, instead of targets of our grief and hostility? How can the children be trained not to hate instead of being trained to hate. This is going to be excruciatingly unfair to someone, to a lot of people, not to continue to retaliate, but what is the alternative? The alternative is unthinkable. Some of our “family members” are going to have the live with the awful unfairness of it all to save the rest.

    Thank you so much Julia

  4. Lori says:

    You make such an amazing connection to this horrific violence that is virtually never seen… we are all an extended family. What if this was our own family or clan to which this is happening? To so many, many, many, it has happened(throughout history) and is happening (presently). So easy for those of us not personally affected to just whisper a prayer in honor of these beautiful little souls; so difficult for us to really do the work of healing.

    What is it that fuels the fire for those “in charge” of the killing? The hatred must be so strong and so consuming that they cannot find any escape other than to hurt & kill others??

    I have been thinking of this for a few days now Julia. Of course one can just turn off the t.v. and computer and not subject him/herself to this tragedy. But then are we just as guilty by pleading ignorance to the devastating loss of lives?

    As a teacher to my 6th grade students, we often talk about ancient civilizations (per our curriculum )& their wars, their slaughter of thousands in return for control & power. Many of my kids ask, “WHY?” My answer is, “I don’t know.”

  5. Katy says:

    I have been thinking on your last post a lot recently and this one is another great post that asks the questions the needs us to be present and conscious of what is really going on. I am sure it is easier to remain unconscious and be wound up in our own little dramas that take our attention away from bigger issues. I know. I have done it. However this work does help open us up to become present in the here and now. If it is just us then we need to be what we wish to see in the world. Mother Teresa has a great quote that says: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”. With our community since there is more than one of us perhaps we can all create many ripples and those ripples could create a wave which will be grounded more in love than in fear. I hope so. I hope for not only myself but for my unborn child that is what will happen.

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