Archive for January, 2004

Do Not Worry

January 28, 2004

By Samia Khoury
Wednesday, January 28, 2004

When we read that scriptural passage during one of our recent worship services at the Sabeel Centre, I could not help but reflect closely on those lines and the lines that followed. Christ assures us that we are much more valuable than the birds that the heavenly Father feeds, and the lilies of the field that he clothes.

Indeed we might be more valuable, but certainly not under this brutal military occupation where life has no value whatsoever. People get killed by the dozens and the oppression stifles every aspect of our life. So how are we supposed not to worry?

Indeed, if any being is privileged these days it is a bird. Every time I am stopped at a checkpoint, I wish I could trade places with those birds flying over so freely beyond barriers and walls, and without any identification papers. The ants are even better off than we are, for they manage to crawl their way in between the boots of the soldiers, reaching whichever destination they choose. What a challenge these creatures must be to the military forces.

Sometimes my imagination goes beyond logic as I recall the films we used to watch about the “invisible man.” Would it not be great to experience a crossing at one of those infamous checkpoints as an invisible person?

The beautiful lilies of the field that sway with the pleasant breezes in the air are not likely to be there these days. They have probably been stifled like the lives of those people who cannot tend to their fields anymore. This occurs either because those fields have been separated from their owners by a wall, or because they were confiscated for the building of Jewish settlements and bypass roads. So most likely those lilies have been uprooted along with the crops of those fields.

With all these acts done in the name of security, is it really possible to “not worry”? It is probably easier said than done. What a privilege it would be to go to bed and sleep like a child without any worries. But even children have their worries these days. In fact, the military occupation exacerbates our worries as it turns them into a daily reality while we try hard to go about our lives as normally as possible against all odds. The joy of an expectant mother ends up being a nightmare as she gets near her time to deliver. She is constantly worried about how to reach the hospital or clinic with the reality of passing all the checkpoints and roadblocks. Stories about women delivering at checkpoints are horrific, yet they continue to occur. The woman who lost her twin girls this past month — because the army did not allow the ambulance to get her to the hospital — will haunt many expectant mothers.

The families whose children have to go to school past barriers and checkpoints have every reason to worry when the shooting of Palestinian children has become a daily routine, and does not even hit the media. It was due to this constant worry that Naim from Balata refugee camp near Nablus kept his six-year old child at home recently. Nablus had been exposed to very brutal measures of curfews, shootings, devastation, and the demolishing of homes in historical neighborhoods.

Little did Naim realize that under a military occupation even a home is not safe anymore. The child was shot dead as he sat eating his sandwich on his doorstep.

Sitting by the child’s grave, the father commented, “No child, Jewish or Arab, deserves a life like this or a death like this.” This heartbreaking story was reported by Gideon Levy.

The barbaric act of the Israeli bulldozers demolishing around fifty homes in Rafah this past week left scores of people homeless. The families had very little time to rescue any belongings, so their immediate worry was to decide what to salvage in such a short time. Petrified women and their children were running in circles, and most of them were grabbing mattresses and blankets. The face of a scared young girl pulling a blanket from under the rubble was absolutely tragic. Cooking pots seemed to be another salvaged item. Nothing else mattered at that moment. The priority was to find something to lay one’s head on at the end of the day, and a pot in which a hot meal for the family could be cooked (camping style, of course).

While those dispossessed and oppressed people worry about their survival and about the basic needs and safety of their families, we find comfortable people in free countries in a constant state of worry. Ironically though, they worry about the stock market, they worry about making more money, acquiring more material possessions, obtaining more power. Maybe it is to those people that Christ was addressing his message “Do not worry.” For those dispossessed and oppressed he gave them hope as he read from the book of Isaiah in Nazareth: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).

It is for that reason that we cannot lose hope. For it is our trust in a just God and our firm belief in the justice of our cause that have sustained us throughout these long years of military occupation. The support and commitment of all those who believe in this justice have given us more reason not to lose hope in our quest for liberation, justice and peace.