A land flowing with blood and tears
My eyes were drenched with tears when I saw a photo of a helpless woman squatting on the debris of her house, in which her family members were killed. A river of tears was flowing from her wearied and hopeless eyes. Her hope is shattered by the bombs and shelling. I was wondering where she would go after all this bloody ordeal. Clearly, she has no house, no family, no money, and no food; has she got any hope left?
It is said, ‘Laugh and the whole world will laugh with you; cry and you will be crying alone.’ We have been disturbed at the gruesome and bloody attacks along the Gaza Strip for the lame reason of protecting the civilians. I have been made to think that there is no value in the life of another human person, and that is why both Hamas and the Israeli forces refuse to agree to a truce along the borders.
It is disheartening to see the pictures of bloodied innocent people lying lifeless in the rubble created by heavy bombing by the militants. It is disheartening to see a lonely woman, man or a child squatting helplessly on the debris of their own homes. It is disheartening to hear that militants have bombed a school, resulting in the killing of scores of children. It is disheartening to hear that priests, nuns and the Catholic community are being asked to vacate Gaza City. It is disheartening to hear that a mosque has been bombed along the Gaza Strip. It is disheartening to hear the number of dead in the last 20 days. It is disheartening to hear that families have lost their beloved children, wives, husbands, grandparents, sisters, brothers and so on.
Where can they go to get help and a warm hug of love and peace? Can they get an empathetic hug on the battle ground? Why are we fighting, to kill our own people? Israeli forces are on the hunt for the militants and their tunnels. In this hunt for liberty, innocent shed their blood. Most international communities ask whether there can be a peaceful solution.
Honestly speaking, we are helpless, just like the people of Gaza and the West Bank who sit on the debris of their homes and weep. Weeping is the only option left for these people. We are also left with that option: to weep until peace is restored in these areas. One of the people who had lost his home in the bombing was standing on the rubble, saying with a faint voice: ‘I have lost everything, where can I go now?’ True, where can he and his family go? Can the militants or Israelis give him shelter or help him to build himself again? This is a daunting question that whizzes through my mind every time I hear the cry of the innocent.
At his audience on Sunday, Pope Francis uttered those heart squeezing words, ‘Please stop! Enough with all these child deaths!’ Emotionally drained, the Pope could not hold back his tears as he uttered these words, which was evident under his spectacles as it was shown on the giant screen at St Peter’s Square in Rome. The Pope wept. He wept at the atrocities and violence done to the innocent people. As we have known from the media: 73% of the people killed are civilians. This is because the civilians live along this war prone area of Gaza and the West Bank.
The Pope also appealed to the people and their leaders to take a path of peace over violence. Violence can be overcome with peace and not violence with violence. No more is it eye for eye or tooth for tooth. It is true that the perpetrators and their followers do not experience the pain of being killed or lost; hence they keep promoting this violence without any human concern. Can God enlighten these people? When every human effort fails, the only option left for us is God. We can humbly implore God to embrace this land where blood flows in the streets.
Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. Jesus was obviously emotional and moved with empathy to Martha and Mary at the death of their brother. But Jesus did not stop at weeping; rather he consoled the sisters by giving life to Lazarus. People in a war-zone have no choice left but to weep. Their tears have no impact on the perpetrators, hence tears roll down into their wonderful land, which is now a weary and dreadful place. What choice do we have as we watch or witness the bloodshed? I think we are also left with a choice to weep and to hope that one day God will restore peace in this land.
By Fr Jerri Dias SJ, Guyana