Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Conflicted Homelands

Yesterday morning, I didn't have much time to pay attention to various news sites--and so I was surprised when I opened the NPR site in the early afternoon and saw a picture of black, billowing smoke.  I thought the volcano in Hawaii had exploded again or in a different way.  I was surprised to see that I was seeing footage of protestors reacting to the U.S. embassy moving to Jerusalem--and I was further surprised to see the death count.

There are many people out there who are much more educated on the topic of Israel who will weigh in.  I am one of the ones who is perpetually confused by it all.  First I agree with the Palestinians, then I agree with the Israeli government.  I am one who feels perpetually adrift in the world, a girl with no home town who dreads the question "Where are you from?"  Part of me doesn't understand the pull of place, while part of me yearns for it.  Part of me doesn't understand why we can't just divide the city of Jerusalem and give everyone a place.

Rabbi Rachel Barenblat gave a Facebook link to this article, which says, "In the real world, west Jerusalem is the capital of Israel; east Jerusalem is a city in waiting. Jerusalem the holy city is in exile."  The rest of the article unpacks these ideas in ways I hadn't considered (but full confession, I haven't spent much time lately considering these issues).

One of the ways that the past 15 months of the Trump administration have left me feeling so whipsawed is that questions/issues I thought were settled have been so easily dismantled.  I might have felt this way during the first year of the Reagan administration, but I was much younger then; I suspect I just assumed that politics was always this way.

As I saw pictures from yesterday's protest, I thought, we have been here before.  And what makes this time in our collective history difficult is that we've been here many times before, which makes it hard to predict where we're headed.  I am thinking of this book review of Jon Meacham's The Soul of America, which argues that "Trump is normal in that he embodies recurring maladies of American public life; perhaps the main anomaly is that he brings so many of them together. Such historical awareness can comfort, especially if you believe, as Meacham does, that every generation considers itself under siege and that, with the right leadership, Americans usually find a way forward rather than back."

Of course, the fact that so many of us have very different views of what constitutes the way forward is not exactly comforting either.

I don't know what the day will bring, except that it will both surprise me and make me wonder why I am surprised.  Let me say a quick prayer for Jerusalem and all of our conflicted homelands.  Let me pray for peace--may it come quickly.

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