On Turning 70
Since 1998, basing myself in Washington DC, I have worked internationally, having the rare chance to play some small role in bringing peace to the world through the Washington Ireland Program, the South Africa Washington International Program and New Story Leadership. From Belfast to Cape Town, from Ramallah to Jerusalem, from Dublin to Durban, my work using the power of stories has taken me to scenes of other great conflicts and to meet a generation of young people who are survivors, or one generation removed from the battlefield. I have ended up working with people like my parents, who endured and are enduring the crucible of war, or like me, those for whom the wound of war still leaves an indelible scar on living memory.
….The German lilt of “Stille Nacht” was unmistakable to the Allied troops. They wondered if the Germans were planning some new trick. Was this a ploy to distract their exhausted defenses? Yet, the Christmas Carol was evoking that same deep longing for home. Both sides were missing their loved ones on this most sacred of nights. Almost without thinking, they started to sing along in English, and their ” Silent Night, Holy Night, All is calm, All is bright” blended with German voices, and seemed to sound a gentle benediction over the wounded earth…
…The Christmas Truce does not have to be an aberration. If it can happen at Christmas, it can happen at Easter or Passover too, those feast days where it is sacrilege to kill. Loai is from a Muslim culture and for him, April 3 has another special significance. It is the beginning of Ramadan- a time the Koran says is for fasting from hatred and war and fear…
No-I cannot weep for the refugees of Mariopol and Sevastapol Alone,
I cannot cry for the lives lost or demand the invader atone,
Unless I can also weep for the 7 million refugees of Syria,
Who for 20 years have lived between hell and hysteria,
How sad it is that HATE seems to unite the world more than LOVE. A lazy NATO, a deeply divided Congress and a fracturing EU have finally found their super glue. All we are saying is… “Give war a chance,” and “Imagine there are no people.” War is all we’ve known since 9-11.
To suggest that there can be mental and emotional scars on the psyche that are like the physical wounds on the body is a great act of imagination, even a great metaphor, but it seems that the metaphor has migrated as Susan Sontag was wont to point out, into a specific illness. Sontag wrote that cancer became a metaphor and we are asserting this is a metaphor that has became an illness, and this metaphor has metastasized.
As a young boy growing up in war torn Gaza, you learn pretty quickly that life is precious and fragile. I am 28 now, and a graduate of Gaza University, a soccer player who played for Palestine and a coach, and I am excited to be beginning my graduate studies in Istanbul. But most Gazans of my generation never leave their childhood behind because, between the ages of 10 and 21, we had to survive three wars. Surviving meant coming to terms with death, making friends with our mortality. Read More
Irish Aunties and Funerals
My Dad was the proud son of Irish immigrants to Australia and so, growing up, we had our encounters with our maiden Irish Aunties, Great Aunties actually, Tessie and Lilly. I remember my sister Jenny and myself visiting them in darkened, stale smelling rooms in dilapidated Ipswich mansions, and being encouraged to perform. “Sing for your Auntie Tess.” “Play piano for your Auntie Lilly.” It struck terror in us so stark that it defined the darkness. Why were they always dressed in black? Someone had died, and that is how they remembered their role as mourners, to not smile for a year. Read More
We get so tied up in the Why or the How. We forget a far more important question- Where? We start with WHERE. Even that word “question” is loaded with the same insight because it contains a “Quest,” which wikipedia calls “a long or arduous search for something.” To ask a question is to be going somewhere. Read More
“Thanksgiving for me is less about life’s gifts- less about a Hallmark card…..It is reminding ourselves of the fact that we are privileged enough to live long enough to know we are alive. “ Read More