Aug 25, 2014

A meaningful life?

We lost three good and famous people this week: Holocaust survivor and humanist Hajo Meyer, Environmentalist broadcaster David Attenborough, and Palestinian Poet Samih AlQasim. I first met Hajo (born 1924 and died 23 August 2014) over 10 years ago and communicated with him frequently via email. And he wrote me 7 years ago when I wrote about the transfer agreement signed between Nazi Germany and the Zionist leaders "Are you aware that besides the Ha'avarah agreement the terrorist and murderer Avraham Stern had written to the Nazis on January 11th 1941 to fight with his Irgun forces together with the Nazis against the British! That is, I think, still stronger stuff." Here is Hajo as I remember him speaking his mind

David Attenborough deep and resonating voice narrating spectacular nature videos impacted many of us. These videos will have a special place in our nascent Palestine Museum of Natural History. I especially liked his series "Wonderful World" on BBC:

We also lost a great Palestinian poet Samih Al-Qasem this week. He was born from a Druze family in 1939 but considered his own date of birth as 1948 because that is when he said he awoke to what was happening to our people. He had a great career contributing words to many now famous Palestinian national songs like this one in Arabic followed by the English translation

منتصب القامة أمشي
مرفوع الهامة أمشي
في كفي غصن زيتون
وعلى كتفي نعشي
وأنا أمشي

Standing upright i walk
Elevated forehead I walk
In my palm a bunch of olives
and on my shoulder my own coffin
and I walk

Here is another poignant poem
تذاكر سفر
وعندما أٌقتَل في يومٍ من الأيام
سيَعثُر القاتل في جيبي
على تذاكِرِ السفر:
واحدة الى السلام
واحدة الى الحقول والمطر
الى ضمائر البشر
ارجوك الّا تُهمِل التذاكر
يا قاتلي العزيز
ارجوك ان تسافر

The day I'm killed,
my killer, rifling through my pockets,
will find travel tickets:
One to peace,
one to the fields and the rain,
and one
to the conscience of humankind.
Dear killer of mine, I beg you:
Do not waste the tickets.
Take them, use them.
I beg you to travel.

We also lost many other good people including a mother (Tasnim Isam Judeh) and her four Children in the ongoing Israeli genocidal campaign against Palestinians in Gaza. These simple people trying to live in
the world's largest open air prison are equally important to remember, to mourn, and to celebrate their lives. I most grieve for children lost who could have had so much future potential. Yet, while we lost good people this week we also gained much and are enriched by life. As David Attenborough reminds us life goes on in all its glory and beauty and death and regrowth. For example Gaza displaced residents in temporary shelters delivered dozens of babies and even held weddings. And some friends here and in Gaza are bringing art, music, culture, beauty to this otherwise mad world. Friends whose homes are demolished promise to rebuild and those injured are heeling. Life goes on in all its pluses and minuses. We have so far studied over 40 species of butterflies in Bethlehem University! We adopted a stray dog at the museum and planted seeds (literal and metaphysical). We note that all life is exquisitely beautiful as it blossoms. Without change and growth and interacting with our environment, we have stagnation. We must all be part of this in a positive way adding to building and wonder and growth. Hence activism and growth are the epitome of living a meaningful life exemplified by those who left us. When it is our time to go, will we have lived this meaningful life?

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Over 200 Israelis living in the US wrote this letter to Jewish community leaders. Worth reading

Holocaust survivors speak out:

Miko Peled tells it like it is on Gaza

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1 comment:

  1. sadly it was not David who passed away, but his brother Richard, apart from that mistake, good post...regards.