Voices of Spencer Creek Valley
Rural preservation

Life on the Forty-fifth Parallel

Rain & Ramallah

by Ryan Ramon

I awoke to the sound of rain, a soft wet rushing on new leaves and old roof. It cheered me up. I have been finding the relentless sunshine eerily oppressive this spring when we should have rain, lots of mud making, ground swelling, river filling, sap stretching, seed quickening rain. Laying there in my nice warm clean bed I began to think about what we will do this weekend. Now that the rains have come again, I can plant a couple more trees. It's time to prepare my raised garden beds for the spinach seedlings sprouting on the window still. Better get to the library and return those books and video tapes, and I can swing by the recycling center (Bring). And it struck me that these small tracks of daily life are only possible in a civil society, where there is peace and plenty, more or less. I got up and switched on the radio to listen to NPR news while I mediated on the can. Electricity. I flushed the can. Water. Washed my hands and face. More water, clean water from the spring to our tap. I padded out to the kitchen to put on the kettle. More water and electricity. Ancient Mother Cat extracted her toll of milk. Meow. Milk and refrigerator, more electricity, a farm economy in place, transportation, markets and supermarkets. I knew if I suddenly choked on my cereal or got ill, help from 911 medics was a call away. Phone lines work. Medics and doctors are not being shot at. My son bikes off to school. I am not worried about deadly gunfire, just speeding cars.

As I started my day I heard more tragic news from Israel/Palestine about the unrelenting war on Palestinian civilians by the Israeli military. Where these simple givens of a functioning civil society are not in place, not just absent but the very opposite. No water on tap, no electricity, no medics, can't go to work or school, can't be safe in one's own home and bed, tanks and helicopters everywhere, terror and indiscriminate death everywhere, beyond endurance. Yet people are surviving and trying to mobilize world opinion. I am reminded of another similar situation, a tale told by my mother when I was little, about brave heroic people living and fighting for survival beyond what seemed possible. They were under siege by the Nazi army, being starved out, thousands died and yet they struggled on for freedom and life. For hope. They were the people of the Warsaw ghetto uprising.

Perhaps such an experience doesn't enlighten a group of people. In trying to prevent such a holocaust again, the survivors built a culture of first strike terror. If from the early days of Israel/Palestine, the legitimate desires and history of the Palestinian people had been incorporated into building of a bi-national state, this current war would not exist. Our national government also holds a grave responsibility for this mind-numbing war on civilians. The USA historically uses Israel as its proxy outpost on the "Arab frontier". Geo-political and oil economic concerns have distorted our foreign policy to arm Israel to its high-tech teeth (and maybe in part from guilt that we did nothing to aid the Warsaw ghetto uprising).

I am encouraged by news of the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements. They are very brave and deserved all the support we can muster. They are organizing International Solidarity Movement observers. They are practicing civil disobedience serving jail time because they refuse army service in the Occupied Territories and, they are going to Palestinian cities and villages, trying to stop the bombing war on civilians, hoping the soldiers will think twice about shooting up a neighborhood. They are speaking out when it is dangerous to do so.

When will we make our government listen? The Palestinians have been begging for United Nations observers. Bush speaks in confused messages (Arafat good, Arafat bad...) and the arms manufacturers are very happy. When will we cut our supply of arms for war and put the power of American influence to work for peace and justice for all? The harm of the current war may take generations to untangle. But in the meantime how will Palestinian civil society be rebuilt? What of the water supplies, the farming, the electricity, the phones, the press, the schools, the hospitals, the libraries, the craft factories, the markets, let alone the issues of a permanent homeland or civil government and peaceful coexistence with a secure Israel? How do we influence the first step of calling for total stop to the killing and a withdrawal of troops from the Occupied Territories?

And what of the encouragement of anti-Semitism and of suicide-bombers by oppressive regimes in the region? Those politics of despair won't survive in a climate where there is hope, where there is a challenge and reward in daily life. Do we want everyone to be "just like us"? No, we know that the history and cultures are different. But everyone has the right to work and hope in peace. Where a man can awake in the morning and plan to plant a tree.


For more discussion, information and links - Please see
Voices of Peace.

© Spencer Creek Press, West By Northwest 2000-2002 All Rights Reserved unless otherwise noted.

The opinions expressed by the authors are not necessarily the opinions of the publisher and/or sponsors.



West by Northwest
Spencer Creek Press
PO Box 51251
Eugene OR 97405

West By Northwest

Voices of Peace, Volume VI
Africa: Peace with Justice Northwest Tour
Starhawk's Heresies in Pursuit of Peace: Thoughts on Israel/Palestine.
Sarah Shields asks Please Dad, Tell Me: How Do I Stop Being Complicit?
Peg Morton sharesMy School of the Americas (SOA) Saga.
Web links
Erbin Crowell considers Coffee and Fair Trade.
Illegal Logging Threatens Ecological and Economic Stability.
Ecstasy of Ecology - Penny Livingston and the Permaculture Institute.
Norman Solomon considers India and Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons and Media Fog and the USA's "War On Terrorism": Winking At Nuclear Terror.
M.G. Hudson asks us to Consider the Case of Patricia Sweets: The Failing Safety Net of Publicly Financed Health Insurance.
Patrick Morris, writes on the role of the Royal Pains.
High Plains Films releases This Is Nowhere
Meet Skip Schiel, an remarkable photographer
Delight in Guy Weese's Summer in the City Photos
Doug Tanour's Exodus Poems
Jane Farmer uses the medieval villanelle
Explore a few small presses with big ideas. We look at The Magic Fish, When Spirits Come Calling, Saving Wilderness in the Oregon Cascades and Cradle to Cradle.
Barbara S. Thompson's My Life, Chapter 4, Moving Out West to Los Angeles.
Cogentrix to Aquila, Going from Bad to Worse? by Mary Zemke.
Lois Barton's Sunnyside of Spencer Butte, The Cat That Flew and Sauerkraut and All That.
Jonnie Lauch's electronic debut in Nighttime Intruder.


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