On Solidarity

Softly now,
The gentle heartbeat of a sickly child
Slowly fades into the silence of death.

Faintly now,
Salvation claims another soul.

A mother’s cry of grief and pain
Shakes the Earth and stains the sky
A father stares with disbelief
As his crystal tears drown his broken heart.

No gold can replace what they have lost
No words can soften this dreadful blow.

Hungry and desperate, they hold one another
Their only possessions in this merciless world
Their misery is endless, their hardship unbearable
All they know is heartache and hurt.

What crimes have led them to these lives of torture?
For what reasons must they endure such torment?

The truth, alas, is what is most dire
They have done nothing to deserve such agony
Their only crime is that they were born.

Human greed is what begets injustice
What murders and tortures and starves so many
What silences lives before they begin
What scars and spoils the innocent

What leaves so many pained and distraught
What blights and shatters and obliterates youth
What turns so many to violence and sin
What transforms so much kindness into hostility.

Our avarice cares little for our fellow man
His sorrow is nothing until it is ours.

Heroes can die
Children can starve
Cities can burn
Men can rape
Women can suffer
People can pillage and eat one another.

But until their despair damages us
Until our hearts bleed and we feel distress
We will never give aid without exacting a cost
We will never do more than serve our own need.

Such is the way of human nature
Materialism and hedonism
Our only concern will ever be
For what we possess and what is familiar.

This will never change and it was ever thus
That is our tragic reality
No matter how many children die or innocents perish
Our world will never be free from this inhumanity.

The terror attacks in Brussels have come up in conversation a lot this week. As people in nations all over the world have offered gestures of solidarity and support, my little sister approached me with a question I haven’t been able to shake.
My sister knows about injustice. She listens to the conversations my family has at dinner, she hears the news, she asks a lot of questions- but still, my sister is eleven. She doesn’t yet know the callous extent of animosity the word has to offer. And so my sister came to me today, earnestly asking why it was requested that everyone stand a moment of silence in unity with those impacted by the Belgium Bombings before her basketball game. She wanted to know why the coach hadn’t mentioned the suicide bombing in Iraq, and more generally, my sister wanted to know why her coach had never asked asked them to direct their thoughts before. “Why is what happened in Brussels more important?” she asked me.

I am, and will always be in support of those who take actions against injustice- I have nothing bad to say about those who offer their prayers and well wishes in times like these. In fact, I believe firmly that responding to hate and inequity with kindness and unity strengthens our communities and bridges connections between them. That being said, when your 11 year old sister comes to you legitimately bewildered about the difference in responses to events that happened within days of each other, you know there is something more that needs to be said.

This month marks one year since a family friend, Mohammaed Abbas, was killed in clashes with IDF soldiers as he returned home from work in the city of Jenin. An only child, Mohammaed is survived by his mother and father. May God grant him and his family the highest level of Paradise for their endless strife. May God relieve the struggles of all those who suffer under the iron fists of injustice and award them, too, with the highest levels of Paradise.

Thank you all for your support and encouragement with this latest venture of mine.

17 thoughts on “On Solidarity”

  1. “But until their despair damages us
    Until our hearts bleed and we feel distress
    We will never give aid without exacting a cost”
    That statement is a perfect summary of how my peers and I feel. How do you think we can change that? How do you personally learn about the tragedies happening? Then is it possible to use that information to make a difference? Sorry for all of the questions lol

    1. Hi, Lisa!
      I wrote that out because I think it’s a fairly accurate portrayal of how the vast majority of humans in the world feel. There’s a behavioral belief in psychology called psychological egoism, and more specifically, psychological hedonism, that argues that humans are only ever motivated by two things- the desire to experience pleasure and/or the desire to avoid pain. There is a lot to consider and ultimately those words carry a lot of weight, but when I look at the roots of what drives me forward, I know that those two motives are what incentivize any changes I make in my life. So, is there really such thing as a selfless act? I’ve found myself posing that question a lot lately.
      That being said, I think being an emphatic listener is key here. It’s easy to become jaded when you know that there is so much dissension and misfortune and that there will always be dissension and misfortune, and what emphatic listening allows you to do is seek to understand before being understood. An important distinction here is that “empathy is not sympathy”. I recently read that whereas sympathy is “feeling for someone,” empathy is “feeling as someone,” and it takes genuine effort to do this.
      Besides that, like you pointed out, awareness itself is pretty important. It seems daunting at first, but I think just actively looking for news gets you a large amount of it. I personally check Reddit and Twitter a few times a day, both of which are aggregate sources of what is, a lot of times, eye-witness or first-hand experience.
      As far as how we can use this information.. I’m still trying to figure that out myself. Being mindful of whats going on allows you spread awareness to others and you never know what one individual might be able to contribute, ya know? On top of that, the difference we make individually will more than likely be small. But it’s a difference, still. Something like providing a meal for someone less fortunate is a drop in the sea of the 7.4 billion people on earth, but it made a difference for that one person. I think that’s how a lot of change has to start out.

      Thank you so much for your feedback and leaving these questions. Feel free to shoot me an email (admin@yabushmeis.com) if you’d like to chat any further!

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