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Die-Hard Politics

I’m sitting at home and listening to the Israeli news through an internet radio station. Around the clock. Calling home, asking about friends and family. Reaching out to Arab friends, asking them how they are doing. Praying to each other, hoping for better days, waiting for this to end.

A few years ago, I heard about a popular movie for kids and families: “How to Train Your Dragon”. I understand that there are several sequels by now… I went and watched the first one, on one of those COVID-nights when there was nothing to do.

It’s a cute movie. I have to say, though, that I was struck by something in the plot: A village is harassed year-in-and-year-out by dragons. One of the village children finds himself befriending one of the dragons, through which he learns that dragons are, in fact, not evil. For a moment I thought I was seeing a story where we learn to see eye-to-eye, and maybe, for once, find ourselves in a peaceful clearing, away from the chaos, away from the wars. Imagine a story that ended like that… But then the movie came to the punchline: These dragons were all being forced into their evil ways by an even BIGGER, even EVILER dragon. And so, to liberate the audience from a plot that could have been perceived as boring or lame, the movie ends in a climactic battle in which the REALLY evil dragon is destroyed - quite spectacularly, I might add.

And I was thinking… Are we, as an audience and a culture, so addicted to the idea of good and evil that even if someone shows us that our “enemies” are in fact ok, we still have to find someone else to blame, and take our anger out on?

This is not an uncommon plot line. We see it all over the place. Look at Star Wars: Darth Vader turns out to be not-so-bad a guy. So we kill the Emperor. There always has to be evil SOMEWHERE.

One of the things that hits me about the violence in Israel is that you can choose your news channel based on who you want to be the “good guy”. Israeli news? They show almost nothing but Israeli casualties and destruction. Mainstream media in the US? Picture after picture of ruins in Gaza, Palestinians being hurt, or Israelis firing at them.

It’s so easy to throw blame. Rhymes with “flame”. Is that a coincidence? I feel like we’ve been keeping this torch lit since the dawn of time, lighting each other’s fires, passing it on from generation to generation. Honestly… it’s so easy to do.

Yesterday morning, I received a text from my mother (in Israel): A group of women was organizing a women-only prayer, live on zoom, each woman in her native language - Hebrew, Arabic, and everything in between. The organizers had found something that they all had in common: They were all mothers. And they were sick of raising their children this way. God Almighty… We could sure use some feminine wisdom right now.

Want to stop passing the torch?

I dare you to post what we have in common, and not what we have to avenge. Because in my experience, both of those are inexhaustible. But I’m sick of one of them.

Photo by Duané Viljoen,


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