23.7.15

מעסרה

It was last summer that I first volunteered with MinelBahar camp, and just a year later I found myself walking up to the group of volunteers by the blue water, marching through the sand with tightness in my feet and excitement in my stomach. It was a cloudless day, and as I reached the group out of breath and a bit dizzy from the sun, I was relieved to find that the most trying challenge had already been overcome: some 20 floaties of various colors, prints and sizes were blown up and ready for action. I smiled at my own observation and sat down to listen as Riki, the group leader explained about the town which the campers were coming from and the other tasks ahead.
The town was Al Masara. Rikki explained that the town had developed a strong relationship with an Israeli peace organization Combatants for Peace. With fervor and admiration she described the peaceful protests they had organized, and the efforts they were making to advocate for peace in the west bank. I asked myself why I hadn’t heard of these nonviolent developments before. I guess my ignorance can be attributed to my own laziness but maybe a part of the blame is also on today’s media. With modern news companies’ sensationalistic values, peaceful protest just doesn’t elicit the gasps that juicy, violent headlines can bring.
 
I spent most of the afternoon speaking with two girls, a 23 year old math teacher, and her cousin, an engineering student of 19 years old. We spoke for a while about our studies, and I asked if either of them had boyfriends. As it turned out, the older girl was engaged to a male nurse who she met at university. After dating for a year, they got engaged; next week, three years later, they will finally be married! It was exciting to speak to the girls about their lives. As I sat there accomplishing what was arguably the second hardest challenge of the day, deflating the infinite supply of floaties, I learned a bit more about what a day in the west bank feels like; something which, to me, was difficult to picture before our conversation.
 
But maybe the truest most difficult challenge of the day was really seeing the people I’d talked to. I always wonder how well we really know anyone- the way we see people is like looking through a glass which is tinted, but instead of seeing people in different colors we see them through our own opinions, views and predispositions. Today I understood that the key to looking beyond my own glass lens is to avoid organizing people in my mind. A person is not a cohesive box of qualities that can be labeled and filed away. We are all adventurous and boring, genius and hilarious, moderate or extreme all at the same time. And although it goes against human nature, we must stop ourselves from trying to categorize other peoples’ humanity. People are just people- and of course there are some pretty big differences here and there, but focusing on that humanity, that common thread that wraps around each of our very beings, that ties us all together- that, is the first step to making peace in the west bank. And that is what MinelBahar is all about.
Written by Tamar (Nechda shel Shosh Kane)
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