In Lak'ech Ala K'in. "I am you and you are me. What I do to you, I do to myself." —Mayan Saying
How Do We Live With Ourselves?
by C.A. Matthews
In this season of supposed “Peace on Earth! Goodwill to All Humankind!” one would hope to see—and experience—some of this peace and goodwill for oneself.
But, of course, that’s not possible in December 2023 because there’s a genocide going on in Palestine, both in Gaza and the West Bank. There are also other genocides occurring elsewhere on the planet—such as in the Congo—but they’re not making the news cycle much, like the one in Rwanda a few years back didn’t. Africans are invisible to Western media outlets. The stacks of dead bodies of black people don’t register on their cameras or consciousnesses.
Criminal, isn’t it?
The fact that Netanyahu and Biden have teamed up to slaughter tens of thousands of Palestinians, including little children, babies in incubators, and the elderly, has caused many Americans to simply shut down emotionally and intellectually. That’s the only explanation I can give to explain the lack of responses I’ve received whenever I post an article, a video, or photo detailing what’s happening in Gaza on my Facebook page. I’m lucky to get one or two likes or comments from the same one or two persons, but mostly I receive zero responses. Crickets.
Even to a video that shows the destruction of Gaza that US tax dollars have paid for (Don't you feel proud?): https://youtu.be/k0pOaRsfxYc?si=CaOByrRvvMFpsJrR
I know it’s foolish of me to even think it’s worth my time posting anything on Facebook, but I feel that the public has the right to hear the whole story and not only the sanitized and twisted narrative the status quo puts out in the mainstream media. I keep hoping some of these posts will get through the blocks and shadowbans. I know a lot of what I’ve posted on X/Twitter has been censored as well, but enough of my X posts must get through because I do receive plentiful responses from online friends and strangers alike.
Of course, the strangers are often accusing me of being “antisemitic” because I voice that I am strongly anti-Zionist/anti-genocide. Somehow people are confusing these two radically different concepts, Semitism and Zionism. Semitic peoples are simply people originally from the part of the world that makes up Gaza/Palestine and the modern state of Israel and speak similar languages. That’s all it really means.
And I’ll admit that I’m very much for Semitic people living and thriving and not being crushed to death in the rubble of their homes while being bombed by the Israeli air force, bombs courtesy of the US military-industrial complex. I’m very much for tiny babies in incubators in hospitals in the Gaza strip to have access to electricity and clean water and to not be left to die alone in the cold and dark because Israeli soldiers forced their doctors and nurses out of the hospitals. I’m very much for Israeli civilians not being burned to death in their cars by missiles shot from Apache helicopters piloted by Israeli Air Force pilots who believe in the “Hannibal Directive”.
I simply want all signatories to the United Nations Convention on Human Rights to follow the rules. I don’t want them to commit war crimes. That’s not too much to ask now, is it?
So, obviously I’m far from being “antisemitic” by the textbook definition. As far as the political ideology of Zionism goes? Nah, I can’t get behind it since it has led to the creation of a horrible ethnostate that has slaughtered the indigenous peoples for decades now without mercy because the Zionists want to steal the natives’ land and natural resources. Any political ideology that supports anything like the 1948 Nakba, apartheid, second class citizenship for native peoples, carpet bombing, and outright genocide isn’t an ideology I can support in good conscience.
And that’s where the problem lies for me. My conscience tells me that genocide is wrong, and that I, as a professing Christian, must do all that I can to “Love my neighbor as myself.” I cannot simply turn a blind eye to the horrors happening to Palestinians since they are my “neighbor.” I must “Do for others as I would like them to do for me.” I must walk a mile in their moccasins and learn what it’s like to be oppressed, to feel the pain of what is happening to them, and then do something about it. I don’t have a choice. It’s what I as a Christian must do.
My conscience says that if I simply ignore others being killed and injured with US provided military armaments then I, as an American citizen/taxpayer, am every bit as culpable as the party to whom we provided the weapons to that is actively doing the killing.
We Americans don’t get a free pass on this. We don’t get to deny that we’re causing untold suffering and agony to our fellow human beings just because we made a private deal with another country that wants to use our military aid to commit a genocide. We must accept the blame and take action to rectify the nightmarish situation before it gets even worse—although it’s already gotten worse, hasn’t it?
I can’t imagine a worse scenario than 1.8 million displaced, 7,000 dead children, 20,000 civilians dead or crushed under the rubble of Gaza, murdered simply for the crime of being born Palestinian. Once the "temporary pause" was lifted, over 700 Palestinians were killed within the first 24 hour period by IDF bombing. It bothers my conscience. It hurts my heart greatly. I can’t sleep sometimes. I remember my youngest daughter spending her first week of life in an incubator. How would I feel if she had been left to die alone or buried under a ton of rubble because Zionists wanted her dead?
I was sharing information from one group to another group online, because I thought maybe a few people (not all, just a few) in the second group might be interested in using their musical skills to help out the folks in the first group. So I copied and pasted a request from the first group and sent it along in a group email to the second group. Honestly, I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal. I was in a hurry, and I didn’t edit the paragraph I’d received from the first group because I didn’t want to add words or take away anything from what they were trying to ask help for.
Imagine my surprise (shock, really) the next day when I’m totally blindsided by a heated response posted in the second group that I emailed. Only two persons emailed back on the loop, but their accusations of my “antisemitism” and the “legal ramifications” of assisting the first group this holiday season pretty much told me that they weren’t the decent human beings I’d thought they were. (And the rest of those on the email loop? They’ve remained silent—in agreement? In fear they could be attacked next? Who knows?)
Now here's the real kicker: the second group is a church group, and I’d assumed they were professing Christians as well as musicians. Wouldn’t they as Christians want to stop a genocide being committed with the help of our tax dollars? Don’t their consciences bother them about the genocide going on against the relatives of the first group? Are my friends in the first group seen as being less than somehow because not all of them are the same kind of Christians or aren’t seen as American as the persons in the second group?
I’ll never know the answer to these questions. My emails asking for clarification (and maybe some words of comfort?) from the church's pastor were never answered. And I was apparently dropped from the church music group’s email loop as well.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to put my conscience to sleep—ever—even if I end up friendless. How could I live with myself knowing that I didn’t at least try to help others who are hurting? Why should I become a soulless sociopath just to fit in with present-day, bloodthirsty mainstream American society or a mainline American church denomination that backs those immoral values?
Since I've always followed the teachings of a radical Palestinian of the first century A.D. who preaches the Golden Rule, I think I’ll just walk on water and get the hell away from these hypocrites ASAP.
I doubt I’ll ever be able to forget this upsetting experience or the unkind things my former church associates implied about the Palestinian Americans with whom I associate with through the local activism scene. I enjoy my current work with immigrants as a paralegal and have enjoyed my work as an ESL tutor and citizenship teacher for many years. I don’t see immigrants and newcomers as second class citizens or less than the people who have lived in the US all their lives. When a person or group has a reasonable request and asks for help, why can’t I share this ask with others without the risk of being attacked and accused of made-up charges of antisemitism?
Why are the people who actually support genocide by their actions and non-actions alike getting to call all the shots? I know—it’s because they’re capitalists, right? Money talks, especially in cash-strapped American churches. We can’t be upsetting the folks who write the big checks for the offering plate, can we?
It’s going to be a blue Christmas for yours truly. I get to suffer for putting my neck out there because I care about others. But a big thanks goes out to all those online who have supported me in the past and who will continue to support me in the future. You get me. You have a conscience. Bless you for being you.
Hey—maybe we can get together online and throw a Zoom Christmas carol party? I’ll bring the electronic cookies. (Ha-ha!)
How do we live with ourselves if we can’t even be open to showing love to our neighbor whose relatives are being wiped out in a genocide? We can’t. We die. Inside. Our consciences will be lost. Forever. And the warmongers and genocide supporters will win.
And we can’t let them win. Ever.
Liberationist theologian Herb Montgomery puts the whole Christmas story into a sharper perspective in A Christmas Story for the Marginalized
Reclaimed interpretations of the Christmas story emphasize details that we can’t afford to miss. Jesus being born into immense poverty, being announced to the socially outcast, bypassing the politically, economically, socially and religiously of the day, and his parents becoming violence-fleeing refugees for the well-being of their child—there is an entire foundation here on which to build a framework for Christians who are working toward social justice today.
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