The Great Plotnik

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ferguson and Gaza and a Sad Ending

 So much bad stuff going on in the world, but it's always relative, isn't it?  Ferguson, Missouri is where an unarmed black teenager appears to have been murdered by a super-armed white cop. We've heard this story before, so it doesn't seem like so much unless it's your child or unless the same thing has been happening to others with whom you identify.

It's easy to be on the side of Michael Brown, the weak taken out by the strong.

Yesterday morning we saw the photo in the Morning BirdWrap of a town in Northern Gaza where every building in town is blasted out, there is rubble on the street, no city services and no possible way to rebuild. They had brokered a cease fire, but now that has been abrogated by both sides. With whom do you identify with here? The armed invaders, who are showing the world how mighty they are, or the innocent and defenseless, who have been taken down a dead-end road by their ideological leaders?

Who you identify with determines how you read what you read, how you hear what you hear. Plotnik's Jewish friends for the most part agree with the strong here, that the Israelis would rather not have to do what they are doing, but have been pushed to the limit by the Gazans. It is incomprehensible to Plotnik that intelligent people can see things this way.

But many do. And keep reading.

Last night we heard about the journalist who has been beheaded in Syria. It was bottom of page six this morning, but James Foley turns out to have been a Teach for America mentor who helped prepare many TFA kids, including The Great PD. He was by all accounts a great teacher, who finished TFA and got a journalism degree. Then he went to report in Libya and got captured with several other journalists. He got lucky and escaped. But it must have been in his blood because he went back, this time to Syria. And this time his luck did not hold.

It's easy to identify with this poor man and his family. We have a good guy and some really, really bad guys. The parent in all of us thanks God our kids were not the ones who got captured, that our son had a young family and did not want to parlay his journalism degree into offshore reporting in war zones, that our cousin got out of Sierra Leone before ebola came down the pike, in other words that the miseries of the world befall people from other families.

This is not ideology. This is tribal. This comes from the gut, where all our important decisions are made. Most of us are not iconoclasts, we want to belong to something. A religion, a country, but above all a family.

Who is our family? Who will we live for? Who would we kill for? In the sea of meaningless trivia surrounding us, what, in the end, really matters?


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