Writing Silence, Writing Pain, Writing Anger

People are dying.

People are dying.

Do you not understand? Can you no longer feel? People.

Children are frightened. Can you not remember what it felt like as a child to fear the monsters in the closet? Have you no sympathy for children who need not dream to see monsters?

What is wrong with you? People are dying.

Do not accuse me of being emotional. Tears and anger are an appropriate response. They let you know something is wrong. People are dying and you accuse me of being too involved.

It could have been your mother, suffering the pangs of undelivered childbirth. It could have been your brother, stripped naked – dignity peeled off with clothing – made to lie on the ground and head smashed to jelly by execution bullets. It could have been your child burned black as primordial coal as helicopter gunships sent death on the back of missiles. It could have been your best friend left to bleed to death after a high-velocity bullet cracked gentle ribs to rip through a heart finally freed of oppression. You could have been the one wrapped in a dirty white shroud, thrown in among a heap of unknown bodies buried below a road, denied a decent resting place because bodies carry diseases for the living and must be disposed of.

So do not accuse me of being emotional. Do not tell me that I am too angry.

People are dying. My stomach tells me that that is wrong. My stomach tells me that the world is rotting from its core to its outer shell. My stomach turns on the sight of blood and crushed bone where once was a head. My stomach does not lie. It reacts.

People are dying.

What must I say? That they are human? That they have a right to live? What must I do to move you if the sight of a dead child is not enough?

I am not asking for the ultimate sacrifice. I would not ask of you that which I am not myself prepared to give. We have all eaten while others starved. What I ask for are tears, anger and commitment. I ask for a reaction, any reaction to people dying.

What do you need to be convinced? Must you suffer before being awoken? Must death come to you before you understand fear?

Perhaps I should tell you how I become this angry.

I watch the images of death and suffering on the other side of the world at 6 pm sharp just like you. And as I am about to turn my eyes, my mind plays a trick on me …

I see my mother’s face, her beautiful square jaw breaking into the smile that has always protected me. I see it destroyed by the fear only a parent can feel as she runs across a road during the two hour curfew to buy milk and flour to feed me.

I see Shadia, my sister, fifteen years all filled with blooming youth and health. I see her almond eyes reflect the deep brown of the beauty spot on her right cheek. I laugh at her overly sensitive personality, as the missile hits the car she is riding in, freezing her gestures with fire, transforming her into ‘collateral damage’.

I see one of my Canadian friends, Jordan, among the hundreds of international observers in the West Bank. Kuffieh around her neck, green eyes with lashes as long as ocean waves, she walks with others toward the tanks. The live bullets shot at the ground disturb the agonized stones, lifting shattered pieces that sheer her muscle.

I watch as soldiers – hands booming against my door – invite themselves in to pull my father from his shirt sleeves and throw him to the ground of the house he built.

I run, screaming, as Eyad, Ahmed and Nidal, my Palestinian friends, let loose stones of fury and weak bullets – anger and injustice coursing through their veins – against tanks that simply wait. I run, screaming, for they have not seen the soldiers behind them. They are openly vulnerable. I run, screaming, but they cannot hear me amidst the machine gun fire; my voice is muffled by the heavy teargas that weighs down the air. I run, screaming, as a bullet pierces Eyad’s right lung, blood feeding land. I fall down to lift the head of a dying friend, as fury and sadness crush my mind to the point of collapse.

And I think, no way, you bastards, no way. I am never closing my eyes. No way. Because I love these people. Because just thinking of losing them is enough to take the air from my lungs.

People are dying. It is just chance that you do not know them. It is just chance that you do not love them.

So do not accuse me of being emotional. Do not tell me that I am too angry.

People are dying. Have you no shame?