by Jean Stimmell
A few years ago, I photographed five vultures attempting to warm up on a cold winter morning by spreading their wings toward the sun. I am using it to illustrate this rant.
The title1 reflects how I feel.
I can’t get images of maimed and bloody bodies out of my mind, first in Ukraine and now doubling down in Israel and Palestine. They are broadcast nonstop on the news and haunt my dreams.
Especially disturbing are the corpses of dead babies. As I write this, 4104 children have been killed so far, just in Gaza, according to the United Nations.2
Seeing their bloody, lifeless bodies was the final straw that broke me, stacked, as they are, on top of a cacophony of other pre-existing existential threats and mind-numbing dysfunctions that we already face. Let me name a few:
Congress is fiddling as the world burns while Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene blathers about conspiracies like Israel using “state-of-the-art Jewish space lasers” to shoot down Santa Claus. Closer to home, our neighbors in Lewiston, Maine are burying their dead struck down by a deranged mass shooter.
Not that New Hampshire has been a guiding light.
Our “Live Free or Die” state is proud to reject all restrictions on assault weapons and reject any red flag laws that might prevent crazy people from getting them. Having no mercy is the New Hampshire way: We tax working people at a rate three times that of the rich, rejecting any broad-based taxes indexed to a person’s ability to pay. And to complete the trifecta, we have a governor who privileges fossil fuel over the dangers of climate change.
Meanwhile, on the national scene, our leading Republican candidate for president is a crook while the democratic one shuffles around, muttering like an old man. Many Republicans want to move on from Trump but don’t dare because they think he is the only one who can win. Sadly, Democrats are doing the same, knowing Biden is not the best candidate but, like the Republicans, supporting him nevertheless.
Looking around at the climate disasters, escalating war, and growing inequality around the world, it’s natural for folks to wonder why God puts up with all this suffering. Jim Palmer, the founder of the Center for Non-Religious Spirituality,3 says we have it backwards: What we should be asking is, why do we put up with it?
That’s an excellent point.
If we are ever going to act, now is the time to pull our heads out of the sand, stand up, and demand change. After all, in so many areas, we, the people, are ahead of the politicians. And what we want most in our hearts is for our children to prosper.
Ayman Odeh wrote recently in the New York Times,4 “A nation is defined as a group of people with a common language, a common past and common dreams.” By this definition, paraphrasing Odeh, any parent will tell you babies are children of a single nation, not a Trump or a Biden one.
But Odeh is not speaking about particular babies. As an Arab Palestinian citizen of Israel and a member of Israel’s Knesset, he is talking about all babies. Due to his unique position, he is able to see a higher truth.
Babies, he says, “have a common language, a common past, common dreams. They speak the same, get angry and cry at the same things, laugh the same way… communicate effortlessly with other babies, no matter the language of the lullabies their parents sang them at night.”
The entirety of this nation of infants—including those who are Jewish, Arab, Palestinian, Israeli, American, Ukrainian, and Russian—“want just one thing: to grow up to a good life. It’s a simple dream. Our role as leaders is simple too: to make that possible.”
For the sake of our babies—all our babies—let us wake up before it is too late.
1 My apologies for amending a line from Winnie Gravitt’s poem “ippokni Sia” She was a Native American poet of Choctaw descent, who was born in 1895. You can read it here: https://tinyurl.com/2reh7kfk
Photo by Jean Stimmell