Friday, January 1, 2010
Things I Would Have Said
Last night, instead of partying or going out to a fancy dinner for New Year's Eve, over a hundred of us gathered in a local Unitarian Universalist church for a vigil in solidarity with the Gaza Freedom March and the people of Gaza. We listened to a speaker, some poets, and a musician. Instead of paying for alcohol to deaden our entry into the new year, we put our money together for aid to Gazans.
I was asked to say a little something at the close of the vigil. Below is what I thought I was going to say - until I changed my mind a few hours before the vigil. I dropped it all when I realized that I am not meant to say words that I have prepared. I can read something (which I didn't want to do) or I can just speak what comes up out of me, but if I want to say something, sans notes, that I've prepared, I will mess up big time.
So instead of telling the lovely story that I had prepared, I winged it last night. I said that the thousands in Gaza and Egypt who were bringing light to the situation in Gaza, the HUGE blue moon, and the people sitting there before me on New Year's Eve all gave me hope.
Here is the story that I didn't tell. I think it's a story worth sharing:
Starhawk is an American writer and activist who is in Cairo now as a part of the Gaza Freedom March. She tells of an experience that I think is a demonstration of the way to peace. She found herself in front of a line of Egyptian police officers who were standing arm in arm to block the marchers from moving. Before her trip, she had learned a few Arabic words, including the numbers one to ten. As she stood before the cops, she held up one finger and said the Arabic word for "one". The officer in front of her made eye contact and smiled. Soon, he and other officers along the line were teaching and encouraging Starhawk until she had counted to 100 in Arabic. She said that they changed from scary potential torturers to "men who were gazing at her with fond, paternal eyes like a father looks at a promising child. They became sweet young men doing a job that wasn't really their choice to begin with."
Starhawk built a bridge between the label "Egyptian cop" and the reality of "just another human".
Tonight on this last night of the year, the night of the blue moon, may peace come through our remembering that separateness is only an illusion.
(Photo from WorldBulletin.net)