Post Election Depression/Finding the Courage to Seek Common Ground

I did not vote for Trump.  And is there anyone out there who truly knows me and is still somehow surprised that I did not vote for him and his brand of hatred and white privilege?  I won’t say who I voted for, as keeping my vote private is something I do whenever I find the options limited and opinions on all sides highly volatile.  Suffice it to say I did not vote for Trump for many reasons, and all of them have to do with the division, racism, bigotry, and hate-speech he has brought to this campaign, and no-doubt will bring to his presidency.  Sorry.  I will pray for him and his conversion, but I won’t hold my breath.

I work with Apache and Hispanic children.  My own children are part black, part white, and part Cherokee.  I’ve worked with migrant workers in Florida.  I’ve been friends with and have worked with many undocumented workers, some of whom are trying to gain citizenship through legal channels, while others I know are prevented from applying.  I have many friends who identify as LBGT who continue to work for equal rights and simple respect.  I also have family members and friends with disabilities.  All of these “groups” have been verbally and viciously attacked by Trump’s insensitive and hateful rhetoric.

I understand the concerns of white Americans who struggle to find work and struggle to put food on the table for their families, but so do many American people on the margins.  Hunger, poverty, and unemployment affect all Americans, but people of color and people with disabilities are still hit harder than white Americans.  It’s a fact.

Our nation has taken some very courageous steps in the last 60-70 years to create a safe place for all.  I truly see the election of Donald Trump as a huge step backwards.  I also see his election as a serious threat to the very liberties, freedoms, and protections we all claim to hold so dear.  Even as I write this Trump is busy filling administrative positions with ultra conservative white men who are known for their racist, sexist, and homophobic views.

In an effort to sort through my own emotions over the future of our nation, and remain true to my faith and my integrity, I’ve been quietly reading and contemplating on the many wise and thoughtful post-election reflections of some of my favorite teachers.  Teachers I respect for always shedding light on darkened places, always opening hidden doors to a better way of being, and always bringing the issues back to a Christ-centered, love-centered whole:  Fr. Richard Rohr, Cynthia Bourgeault, James Finley, Sr. Jamie Phelps, Christena Cleveland, and other wise and mystic voices from the past.

Mostly they all say the same thing.  We need to find common ground, and we need to be inclusive, not exclusive.  As Rohr says, “Everything belongs.”  While this is true, when dealing with political realms there is only dualistic thinking at play.  So how do we hold both, yet continue to move forward?

I think those of us who have expressed our fatigue with the “hate-speech,” the “us vs. them” mentality, the negative social media posts, and the news media bias must make a deliberate and conscious effort to eliminate these things from our own speech, attitude, and postings.  I also think we have a responsibility to lovingly point it out when we see the fear, anger and hatred being perpetrated by our friends and family.  This isn’t easy, but then Jesus never said it would be.  He was put to death.  The worst that could happen to me (I think) is that I could be “unfriended” or “unfollowed.”  That’s what tissues and hugs from real friends are for.

My ex-husband is fond of reminding me that we met while I was out with my college Poli-Sci friends, and we were all engaged in a heated conversation about politics.  We always laughed at the irony of my later declaration, “I hate politics!”  It’s true; I do!  But it is really the game playing and the dualistic nature of politics that I hate.  Like it or not, we all have to be engaged in politics if we want to affect change in our world.  Now more than ever we must stay on top of what goes on in Washington, and in our state and local governments.

Our planet, our water, our air, our freedoms, and our very lives are at stake.  We can no longer afford to just relax and let others do the dirty work for us.  We all need to snap out of our “post-election depression” and seek common ground, get involved, stay informed, make our voices heard, hold elected officials accountable, and work hard for justice for all, not just a select few.


When The World Moves At a Faster Pace

Is it my imagination, or do things happen so fast that one can hardly keep up?  So many good and bad things are happening locally, nationally, and internationally, it’s hard to find time to reflect on any of it.  As soon as I start to reflect on one issue, or event, another one of equal importance occurs.  It’s what I call “emotional whiplash,” or just a simple case of social/news media overstimulation.  What I rail against at my teaching job (now “former” teaching job) is not unique to educational institutions; it’s endemic throughout Western society.  We are in constant motion. We go from one activity to the next with little or no consideration given to the people involved, or how it affects us.  If we are to grow and learn we must have periods of contemplation, reflection, and prayer in between the events that fill our days.  I mourn the art of “down time” that has been lost; time alone with our thoughts, our God, and time spent in conversation with the people in our lives.

As I consider the recent SCOTUS rulings I am troubled by our reliance on a group of 9 women and men to tell us what is just and right.  I am troubled by those who praise the Supreme Court when a particular ruling supports their point of view or way of life, and then damn them all to Hell when they don’t.  I am also troubled by the way so many narrow-minded members of various religions apparently feel so threatened that they find it acceptable to speak and behave in such hurtful ways.  As a Catholic I understand Christ’s message of love to be about relationship; our relationship with God, with each other, and with our planet.  That’s it.  Relationship.  And, I’m pretty sure that if I delved deeper into every organized religion out there, relationship would be at the heart of these faiths, too.  To be clear, I am pleased with the courts ruling on marriage equality, but very disturbed by their ruling on the use of the controversial drug midazolam being used during executions.  Also, while I do not need the SCOTUS to spell out for me what is just and right, I certainly understand the important part the high court plays in our society.

Fr. James Martin, SJ posted (as usual) a terrific piece on his Facebook page, and also Tweeted in response to the marriage equality ruling.  Of course he got a lot of heat and verbal abuse from several followers.  Here’s what he wrote the other day:  “How can Catholics and Christians respond to the Supreme Court decision? First, of course by remembering to love their LGBT brothers and sisters.”  I am constantly amazed by people who think they have the moral authority to pass judgment on others when they themselves clearly have a plank in their skull! eye (Matthew 7:1-5)!  He followed up with a post reminding his “erstwhile” friends about how the “un-friend” and “un-follow” buttons work.  I love this Jesuit!

But, Fr. James wasn’t the only one who got dumped on.  Imagine my surprise when I opened up my Facebook to find a hurtful message from someone who is not even “friended” on my page, and who I consider only an acquaintance.  Apparently she was “shocked” at my profile picture (with rainbow filter), and she just “felt she needed to share that” with me.  Pretty bold for someone I hardly know, and who obviously knows nothing about who I am.  When Pope Francis says that he will not judge, and Jesus himself refused to pass judgment on a woman about to be stoned, who does she think she is?  I believe in healthy dialogue when it comes to important topics, not petty “bird-dropping” online.  Sharing ideas is important to building relationships.  Compassion, love, and understanding are at the core of Christianity, and it’s all relationship.  What this woman did to me, and what many others are doing on social media, serves no useful purpose, and does not reflect the light of Christ or God’s overwhelming love for us.  In fact, this kind of negativity only tears down relationships and the kingdom of God.

It’s troubling.

The other thing I find troubling is the lack of outcry from these same people over the court’s ruling on the use of midazolam to execute prisoners on death row.  What’s even more troubling are some of the comments I’ve read below the news reports on this latest ruling.  How do we manufacture such insensitive, aggressive people, some of whom profess to be “Christians?”  The bottom line for me on lethal injection and the death penalty is this:  Don’t.  All life is precious.  All life!  Murderers need to be locked up, not killed.

As I ponder how I should respond to my “friend” (if at all), I will struggle to practice what is always necessary when confronted by opposition and hurtful speech….  I will quietly, gently hold her in prayer.

And to my Facebook friends who are upset or offended by my rainbow filter profile picture:  Thanks for being respectful and loving by not posting anything hurtful!  I noticed that, & I love you all!!!!

PS:  I sat on this post for more than 24 hours & I’m glad I did, since it has given me time to find a podcast worth sharing.  My mentor, Sr. Helene Dompierre, OP, once gave me a book by Fr. James Martin, SJ.  I forgot about that until I came across it today while packing.  What an insightful and joyful man he is!  In December of 2014 Krista Tippett spoke with him on her show “On Being,” and I think this 50 minute discussion beautifully sums up what I believe, and what I aspire to become as a child of God.  Enjoy!

Holiday Activism for the Family Dinner Table

My classroom is tidy again, I’ve left school behind for Christmas break, and I have NOT taken home any school work!  I hope my fellow over-achievers out there are able to do the same in the coming days & weeks (especially you teachers!!!).

So much is going on at this time of year; I am always amazed at the busy-ness around me. Some of it is necessary, but much of it is not.  Support for, prayers for, and the work for peace and justice, however, never takes a holiday!

With so many issues in the news lately I wanted to focus on some things to consider taking part in and passing along that don’t involve demonstrating en masse in Ferguson, NYC, or DC (although I do encourage that!).  Many of us will be spending time with family, and this is the perfect time to drop little seeds of knowledge about the issues we care about.  Now, I am not advocating for starting family feuds over politics, religion, or other potentially volatile subjects!  Try a more subtle approach.  I have found some links of interest below that I think will help with re-educating the family.  If your family is anything like mine, you’ll have some explaining to do, and at some point you’ll just have to “agree to disagree” until Easter (or Passover)!  I can get away with a lot around our holiday table:  I bring desert & rule the homemade whipped cream bowl.  No whip for the unruly!

So here’s what I’ve found to share at this year’s Christmas dinner with the family:

With gift buying and giving come concerns about child labor, workers rights and their dignity, as well as Fair Trade and sustainably made items. Even if you make your gifts, it’s worth going that extra mile to make sure your supplies are sourced with these things in mind. Some good sources for guides & information include Fair Trade USA, US Department of Labor, and Free2Work, among others.

Many of us will eat out over the holidays. Many restaurant chains are being urged to take steps toward buying produce from sources that respect the workers dignity, and provide fair wages for their labor.  Those of you who know me know how much of an advocate I am for the CIW (Coalition of Immokalee Workers) and the Fair Food Program.  They have made such amazing progress over the last 20 years!  Corporations like Taco Bell, Burger King, Subway, Chipotle, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Wal-Mart have signed the Fair Food Agreement and are now part of the solution to improve the lives of farmworkers and their families.  But now, in the wake of the LA Times investigative report into the labor practices of Mexican farms, we find several Corporations  who are guilty of being complicate with the growers in Mexico who deny their workers the most basic of human rights.  As we gather ’round our plentiful tables, we must consider where our food comes from, and who harvests the apples in our pies, the celery in our stuffing, the grapes for our wine, and the mined minerals in the devices with which we capture our precious moments on social media.

There is a new petition addressing some of these concerns. Click here to add your name to this petition letting Subway, Darden, and Safeway know that we insist on oversight and victim compensation.  If it’s wrong for US children to labor in the fields for 12 hours a day, with few (if any) breaks, and for a mere pittance, then it’s absolutely wrong for children of other countries to do so.   If you click here you’ll find this petition and several others from Fair World Project.

And, finally, I ask you to pray for peace.  No matter what your beliefs are, no matter what formal, informal, traditional, or non-traditional faith foundation you may practice, prayer is powerful.  You may call it by another name, but if you are silent with your thoughts, you are in prayer, and your prayerful energy is joined with that of others.  That’s what makes prayer so powerful!  I ask that you join me & my community in prayer on January 6th as we pray for 3 special Sisters on a special mission.  I also invite you to pray for peace daily.  Peace in our world, peace in our homes, and peace in our hearts.  Every day.

Merry Christmas, everyone!



Human Rights Day

Today we celebrated Human Rights Day.  When I consider the words with which we communicate, I often pause at the matter-of-fact way we toss them about.  “Celebrate.”  By its very definition “to celebrate” something means to put it high above everyone or everything else; to publicly praise, applaud, honor, commemorate, or otherwise observe in a joyful way a noteworthy event or anniversary.  Whether it is an accomplishment, a birthday, anniversary, prize, or victory, for me a celebration is a time to reflect on what’s been achieved.  So, can we really “celebrate” Human Rights Day, or is it more appropriate to say that we “commemorate” or “recognize” December 10th as Human Rights Day?  Either way, today is a day to stop & consider how we participate daily in support of human rights.

Perhaps I’m being a bit cynical, and I welcome any gentle nudges in a more positive direction, but, have we really made great strides in the area of Human Rights in the last year?  In the last 50 years?  I am so happy to be a part of a group advocating for Human Rights and Dignity in the field (CIW), and great strides have been made this year by the members of the CIW as well as by the businesses that have recently signed on.  Wal-Mart is a new Fair Food partner (although they have a long way to go on other human rights abuses!).  Many other companies and farms have become partners of the Fair Food Program over the years.  This is progress!   So where are Publix & Wendy’s on this list of supporters?  OK!  Perhaps I’m not cynical, just demanding & impatient?

As Americans, however, I think we have become too indifferent in our response to human rights abuses in our own country and around the globe.  With this year’s high-profile murders of unarmed African-American citizens by the police, the inhumane treatment of children & families at our borders, the human trafficking and other forms of modern day slavery that take place in our country & around the world, I wonder if we have made any progress in improving human rights.  Oh!!!  And don’t get me started on this week’s CIA Torture Reports, and the latest on Brazil’s human rights abuses! (still processing this disturbing information!).  Heartbreaking and unbelievable; I am simply horrified by all of it!

While I ponder human rights abuses and our necessary response to these atrocities and injustices, I will also consider how to actively engage others in recognizing the human rights abuses that have become a part of every-day society.  Please share your thoughts on how you address these human rights issues.

As this years Human Rights Watch slogan suggests:  Celebrate human rights, not just today, but every day!


A Great Hope in Common

Last weekend was Assembly for my Florida Chapter.  Each year around this time Adrian Dominican Sisters & Associates from each of the eight Chapters gather for a one or two day Assembly.  Topics and issues discussed vary each year.  This is my third Assembly & they just keep getting better & better!  A week later I am still trying to process all the wonderful things that were said, the amazing people whom I call family, and all the issues before us that hold both promise and peril.  Our theme this year is “A great hope in common.”

I’ve been busy at school & at home, so I haven’t been attentive to my blogging community for the last month.  While catching-up in my Reader, I was struck  by Carol Hand’s blog post that expresses so perfectly a truth that I’m sure is true for many of us who blog about peace, social justice, and our world.  Although we are bombarded with negativity each day, there really is more beauty and more good in the world than some would have us think.  And, borrowing from this year’s theme, we really do have a great hope in common!  When talking about peace & justice last weekend I tried to encourage the members of my community that “a struggle only feels desperate & hopeless if we feel alone in the struggle.”  We need to remind ourselves & each other that we are not alone.  There is great hope and great promise!

Three peace & justice issues that we in the Florida Chapter are focused on are Immigration Reform, the Environment & Climate Change, and Capital Punishment; Pax Christi posted on their blog a piece about this last one (actually several posts on this issue!).  I am so proud of one of our sisters, Sr. Pat, who holds vigil on the steps of her local courthouse every time this state executes someone in our names.  I respect all life and, like Sr. Pat, I do not want people killed in my name or anyone else’s!  It’s bad enough when lawmakers support legislation that I do not, but to take a life in my name is beyond reprehensible.  It gives me great hope knowing that so many others feel the same and continue to work for an end to this horrible punishment.  Our judiciary system is flawed & humans are not infallible.  Over and over again people are being exonerated of crimes they did not commit.  Thanks, Wobbly Warrior for your efforts on this issue!


 Peace to all of you who work with so much passion to make our world a beautiful place!

Losing My Childlike Innocence

As the violence in Gaza picks-up again, I continue my search for answers to this conflict and solutions to make the madness end once and for all………

I’ve got nothin’!

In 2009 Israel launched an attack on Gaza called “Operation Cast Lead.”  That Israeli “defense” against Palestinian rock-throwers killed over 1,400 civilians.  More than 400 of those killed were children. Today we have not only reached that appalling number again, we’ve surpassed it. Truces, or cease-fires, are called for “humanitarian” reasons and then broken within hours; each side blaming the other.  It’s beyond depressing & frustrating!  It reminds me of my childhood when all the neighborhood kids would get together to play.  We played games like Freeze-tag, Kick-the-Can, Street Hockey, or (in the winter) we’d build snow forts & have snowball battles.  When a “cease-fire” or an “alle, alle, umption free” was called it was usually because someone got hurt or it got late and some of us had to go home for dinner.  So, yet again, another “time-out” in Gaza has ended and the playground bullies have learned nothing.  Nothing’s changed, and the violence goes merrily on with children and innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.  To me the solutions seem obvious, but not to those at the negotiation tables (the Egyptian “principal’s office”).  The whole thing has me feeling overwhelmingly hopeless.

As an artist I inevitably look to the art world for solace, insight, and perspective.  Artists have a way of seeing that goes beyond the surface, and sometimes pushes us out of our comfort zones.  Artists have the ability to stretch our minds in ways we never dreamed possible.  A blessing and a curse to be sure.  In light of this summer’s latest assault on Gaza by the IDF, I am reminded of the 2009 play by Caryl Churchill, “Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza,” and the controversy that surrounded it’s shows in London and the US (This is a link to Part One of Two of the presentation at Rooms Productions in Chicago, March 14, 2009.  In my opinion, one of the better and more compassionate interpretations of Churchill’s play).

To summarize, the play is about 10 minutes long and pretty much slaps you in the face and leaves you gaping at the mouth.  Most of the lines begin with “Tell her” or “Don’t tell her” and the actors are adults engaged in conversation about what to tell a Jewish child, either theirs or a member of the family. There are 7 scenes, or sequences, that lead us in time from the Holocaust to the establishment of the State of Israel, to the 2009 violence in Gaza.  I have revisited this play, its message, and its unfortunate timelessness in relation to this latest eruption of violence in Gaza as a way of looking at the conflict with fresh, compassionate, and impartial eyes (although I anticipate some negative comments for this post).  Tony Kushner and Elisa Solomon wrote an amazing, thoughtful, and scholarly article in response to some of the harsh criticism Churchill received for this work.  In it they comment, “Any play about the crisis in the Middle East that doesn’t arouse anger and distress has missed the point.”  I agree.  When I create political art it is always my intent to arouse emotions.  That’s what artists do!  I am impressed with their analysis of the last lines of that damning monologue that gets the most attention and criticism for being anti-Semitic.  They assert that the following line is not evidence of blood-libel, “Tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel?  Tell her all I feel is I’m happy it’s not her.”  It is, in the words of Kushner & Solomon, a warning:  “You can’t protect your children by being indifferent to the children of others.”

No matter what you think about this conflict, no matter how the IDF spins their right to defend Israel, and no matter how you feel about Hamas, the fact remains that Palestinian children are being killed along with innocent civilians.  This alone is a human rights violation, and what the UN would classify as war-crimes, or crimes against humanity. This “open-air prison” is an oppressive and inhumane reality that needs to end, and both “sides” need to make this happen now!

For me this is just common sense, but there’s my childlike innocence (or is it naivete?) again.  How did Americans in the Jim Crow South or Afrikaaners in South Africa rationalize their dualistic “kissy-smiley-face” with cute little black babies against their brutality of adult people of color?  If you are a dualistic thinker then you will forever be stuck in an “either/or” mentality that supports conflict and the killing of innocents with the mantra “better them than us.”  I think this is where most of our administrators, governments, political & religious extremists, and all rebel/extremist groups are stuck.  Unfortunately for the rest of us, these are the ones with all the weapons and the most power (the bullies on the playground).  We do outnumber them, but we’ve got to get on the “Yes!  We can make change” train, and, like the tired & oppressed people in places like the Warsaw Ghetto, South Africa, Rwanda and Bosnia, and now Gaza and Iraq, we’ve got to demand peace & justice.  Demand it with our whole heart and soul!

I am losing my childlike innocence in the face of all the world’s violence & genocide, but I’m also beginning to see and understand better the practice of non-violence in the face of such extreme violence, hopelessness, and inhumanity.  It really is the only way.  I don’t like it, but this is work, real work!  I’m not Gandhi, King, Merton, or the Dalai Lama, and I’m certainly no Mother Teresa or Dorothy Day, but there is so much to learn from these great saints of peace, justice, and non-violent action.  I only hope that my innocence and idealistic tendencies for a better future, a better planet, and a better humanity are not counted among the casualties of war.

Although “I’ve got nothin’ ” in the way of answers to all of the violence around the world, I have found some helpful resources & organizations on the web.  Jewish Voice for Peace in the US is doing a great job of getting information out about events, actions, and ways to help in Gaza and the West Bank. Other groups are working hard doing the same in other areas of conflict. Follow the links below to their sites to help spread peace and work hard for justice, for (believe me!), it is hard work!  Please add any organizations that I’ve missed in the comments below.

International Crisis Group; Belgium.

SURF/Survivors Fund/UK; Survivors of the Rwandan Genocide.

Facing History and Ourselves National Foundation; USA.  This site is full of good information about the Holocaust; an excellent resource for teachers.

United to End Genocide; USA Network.

If Americans Knew; now here’s a list & a 1/2, and other good info!

Seeds of Peace; based in the US, working with youths from 27 countries suffering the effects of ongoing conflict.

And, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and the BDS (boycott, divest, and sanctions) site offers much in the way of Palestinian non-violent efforts to gain self-determination, freedom, peace and justice.

Summer Break? Not for the Oppressed. Not for Victims of Violence.

Summer break for students and teachers means quality down-time, and this teacher looks forward to summer break even more so than my students. My childhood memories of summer are full of trips to the shore, the neighborhood public pool, bike riding, my dad’s garden, my mom’s freezing & canning assembly line in the kitchen, and just hanging out with friends and family (usually outside). This year’s summer break for me has included swimming, gardening, reading, drawing, and a visit from my daughter who lives very far away. I have been blessed by visits from her once a year since she moved, so when she said she wanted to go to the Keys with my mother and me we made it happen.  Despite the rainy afternoons & evenings we enjoyed our “girl-time” together.  Yesterday my son and daughter and I spent the day at the Rapids Water Park in Florida; my first time at a water park & the first time I’ve been to an “amusement” park in 15 years.  I know!  Shameful!!!  Again, we enjoyed this family time together in spite of the two “storm-delays” that disrupted our pursuit of water-based-thrills.  Rain when we want sunshine is truly a “first world problem” when put in proper perspective.

Summer break for most Americans means some kind of break from the “usual.”  It is a time when we can plan a family vacation, relax, and do things that are enjoyable and, yes, peaceful.  Amidst the news out of Gaza, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine…. (you name a place of conflict, violence, and fear), it’s hard to enjoy such fun and relaxation when you know so much of the world is living in a constant state of violence, terror, anxiety, grief, and oppression.  At least I have a hard time enjoying such tranquility.  As a Justice & Peace Promoter for my community (Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates), it’s become impossible for me to do anything without considering the environmental and human consequences of my actions, inaction, &/or consumption habits.

By the time we returned from our mini-vacation in Key Largo I learned about the tragedy of the Malaysian flight that was shot down in Ukraine, and the escalating violence in Gaza.  I consider it both a blessing and a curse that I empathize so deeply with the victims of such horrific violence.  I cannot hear about such things without shutting down; it’s difficult for me not to feel depressed, powerless, and hopeless.  If just hearing about the horrors of war has this effect on me, I can’t imagine how millions of people the world over endure this kind of existence day after day, year after year.  I have learned how to allow myself the luxury of depression and tears for a day or two, but then I turn to those emotions I call positive anger and outrage.  I believe that when anger’s energy is harnessed to create change or an end to an injustice, then anger can be a highly useful emotion.  Unfortunately for those who live with violence and oppression with no end in sight, they don’t have access to such luxuries as vacations, breaks, or just a day to mourn.

The ongoing oppression in Gaza is most distressing to me, so I began searching for organizations that promote peace and coexistence in Gaza, otherwise known as the world’s largest open-air prison. I have been struck by just how many groups are out there that have been working for peace for years, and how many new ones are being created since this latest crisis between Israel and Hamas erupted.  Many of these groups were created by Jews in America (Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No!), Jews in Israel, and (my favorite partnership) Jews and Palestinians working together for reconciliation, an end to violence, occupation, and oppression in Gaza.  Thank you, Sweden and the Middle East Views for the heads-up on a new Facebook page.  The two groups The Jewish Voice of Peace, and Jews Say No! were again in the news for occupying the NY based offices of the Friends of Israel Defense Force (FIDF).  They sang songs, handed out leaflets, and read the names of the 600 innocent Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli bombs in the past two weeks (as of this date, 7-28-14, the number of civilian deaths in Gaza has risen to over 1,000!).  Several of the activists refused to vacate the premises and were then arrested. Just last night about 7,000 people gathered in Tel Aviv to protest Israel’s aggression in Gaza.  Pax Christi shared an article posted in The Plough, written by Izzeldin Abuelaish.  Abuelaish is a Palestinian doctor who lost 3 of his daughters and a niece when their apartment building was shelled by an Israeli tank in 2009.  What courage in the face of such pain and loss!  I often tell my art students, “You are only limited by your imagination.”  Imagine what kind of a peaceful world is possible if we could all be more dedicated to peace and love rather than violence and hatred.

When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict it is absolutely essential to know the history of the conflict in order to understand the current situation and the violence that continues to spin out of control.  In my understanding of the conflict there hasn’t been a “summer break” in Gaza or the West Bank in more than 60 years, and it’s long overdue.  So many Israeli’s and Palestinians, as well as citizens across the globe, are calling for peace, a two-state solution, and a return of stolen lands to the Palestinian people.  How is it the so-called leaders of nations and the UN can’t seem to make this happen?

And now the latest cease fire has collapsed into more violence, death, and destruction on both sides; although each side blames the other.  As always in cases of occupier vs. oppressed, Israel wants Hamas to give up their weapons while the IDF retains theirs.  When will this insanity end?  When will this conflict be peacefully resolved so that we can all enjoy a summer break that lasts a lifetime?