Thursday, July 21, 2011
We Have No Idea...
July 21, 2011
Today was less taxing on the body, but even more taxing on the mind. Most of our travel was by bus, yet the degree to which many of us were further enlightened cannot be overstated. We began the day by leaving our hotel in Jerusalem with plans to spend the next few days in Bethlehem.
On our way, we had the chance to meet a lady who works for an agency called the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). She shared the many ways in which Palestinians have been displaced... and as a result, have either lost their homes to settlers or had their homes arbitrarily demolished by the government.
Later on in the day, we actually had the unique opportunity to visit a small village-turned-refugee camp in the town of Anata. Literally cut off from mainstream civilization, Anata is home to a number of indigenous people who are left to fend for themselves. They do not receive any municipal benefits (santation removal, running water, parks for children to play, representation in government, conflict resolution from the local police, etc.) yet they are forced to pay taxes that end up covering the costs to pave the streets of Main Street Jerusalem, a place they do not have the privilege to enjoy.
As I was sharing with Courtney this afternoon, it is certain that we as members of the Western world have our fair share of problems and issues. Yet without diminishing or belittling the struggle that so many of us face in America, when it comes to the systemic challenges that many in this part of the world face, the two realities pale in comparison.
Imagine paying taxes for benefits you never see while your cross-town neighbors enjoy the luxury of living life tax-free... Imagine having absolutely no access to running water... imagine hoping and praying the best for our children yet every time opportunities arise for a brighter future, they find themselves on the short end of the stick... while these and so many other realities may be exceptions for the "privileged" around the world... for the vast majority of the citizenry in this region... it has become the norm.
We have so much to learn in our Americanized, technology-driven, paparazzi-fueled, pleasure and profit-seeking, barely any compassion-having culture... but for right now... we have no idea!