The following poem was written while I was in the West Bank this summer, opposing the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
During that time the stress of experiencing the occupation contributed to me wrecking my eight-year relationship. And somehow the occupation came to be played out in my own heart, with myself playing each of the main actors in a sprawling drama of guilt and redemption.
I am the man who has jumped from a burning building only to land
on the head of another, and cannot admit that I chose him to break my fall.
I am the suicide bomber whose heart implodes, and in its implosion
diminishes the hearts of those he would need to make good his cause.
I am the pilot whose heart contracts as the bombs set sail, and in contracting allows me to fly another mission, but in flying destroys the finer feelings that make my mission matter.
I am the child who is buried in the rubble of his home—it is a mystery how my world has just broken on my head, and in later years I will blame myself.
I am Hamas, who having had enough, lashes out with no clear purpose,
and in lashing out only rains down fire on the things that matter most.
I am the beach dweller who sees only waves—and flees from boundaries by losing herself in an infinite present that makes for a hollow future.
I am the Zionist who seeks security and builds a tough shell,
only to find that shell breaking and slashing him up as he builds a tougher armor.
I am the stone thrower who in protecting my turf helps the world close in but a few inches more on my own life prospects.
I am the smooth Israeli freeways, so easy in the lies I sustain.
I am the cop who brings to the protest his own sense of order and in enforcing that order disrupts the flow of life, thereby making a death of his own.
I am the non-violent protester, who ends up chanting verses of hate, and in failing to love, loses the day.
I am the politician who wants justice but must speak of peace, and in speaking too long of peace has forgotten the meaning of justice.
I am the writer who makes believe he is a part of the battle so he can write with an authority he fails to carry into his heart and in his failure comes to break the hearts of those who are dear.
I am the reader holding destruction at a distance and revealing in my own equanimity as the bombs fall but in maintaining this peace fails to grow her heart and mind.
I am the Nakba, destroyer of homelands: having failed to find my home, I plowed over husbanded fields and started to build where I should not go.
I am the conflict ever sustained because I can’t find the love to transcend justice and in transcending justice put an end to injustice.
To see myself in all of these roles is to recognize my limits and in recognize my limits overcome them through love.
To see myself in all these roles is to recognize my limitlessness and in recognize my limitlessness to see the destruction to which we all are heirs.
To see myself in all these roles is to recognize my interconnectedness and in recognize my interconnectedness to see a path beyond mutually assured destruction.
To see myself in all these roles is to recognize my separateness and in seeing my separateness try to find a way to come together.
I am all of these roles because I am human and in being human cannot help but be all things.
But to see myself in all of these roles is no justification for those who would carry them out.
To be all and yet recognize some things still should not be
Is to love your enemies within yourself even in the heart of the battle.
Author: Theo Horesh
Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: Amir Farshad Ebrahimi at Flickr